Raschilla finding his way at Ohio Dominican

On the go and busy with baseball, Anthony Raschilla never really got the chance to slow down and bond with his younger brother, Mike, until they were 17 and 14, respectively.

“Ever since we started playing together, which was a great time, we’ve actually gotten a lot closer,” Anthony said. “We kind of bashed heads a lot when we were younger.”

Well, they still do – at least 19 times a year. Mike is a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, and Anthony, you guessed it, goes all out for the New York Yankees.

“We get in some arguments back and forth about it,” Anthony said. “It always happens.”

One thing the brothers do have in common, besides a love for baseball, is a dedication to learning. In 2010, Anthony was McDonald’s salutatorian. Now, he’s studying Biology at Ohio Dominican University, with a 3.6 GPA, and plans to attend physical therapy school.

Mike was recently McDonald’s valedictorian for the 2013 class.

“My parents told us ever since we were younger that baseball is not always going to be there,” Anthony said. “It’s not; you always need something to fall back on. Academics have always been a real big deal for us.”

This year was a big deal for the Ohio Dominican baseball program. In 2011, as Raschilla entered his freshman year, the Panthers began play as a Division II school after being in the NAIA. In its first year of postseason eligibility, ODU made it to the semifinal of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament after a 23-25 regular season record.

Raschilla notched 28 hits in 83 at bats with two home runs and 22 RBIs. In high school, he was a First-Team All-Inter-Tri County League selection all four years for the Blue Devils. He also played in the Class B league at Cene Park in Struthers where he was named to the first team in the Continental Amateur Baseball Association and National Amateur Baseball Federation. As a prep player, though, he manned third base and pitched.

“I don’t do either one of those anymore,” said Raschilla, who now plays first base and is a designated hitter. “Off and on whenever they needed a first baseman (in high school) I’d play, but not very often. I kind of learned it on the fly.”

Does he miss being on the mound?

“No, not at all,” Raschilla said. “As bad as that is, my arm is definitely thanking me for not pitching in college.”

As a freshman, he started 24 games for the Panthers and batted .257. His biggest game came on April 13, 2011 when he went 4 for 4 with a home run, double and three RBIs.

“It gave me a lot of experience,” Raschilla said. “Being thrown right in as a freshman was really intimidating. Once I got adjusted, it was fine. You’re playing the same game, you just have to slow everything down.”

He’s spending this summer near ODU’s campus playing in his second season with the Columbus Jets, a wooden bat team in the Ohio Independent Collegiate Baseball League.

Two years ago, Raschilla went to Arizona for his first taste of collegiate summer baseball.

“My coach (Paul Page) kind of arranged it and it was pretty awesome to be able to spend a summer out there,” he said. “It was a totally different experience. I got to meet and play with great kids from all over the county.”

With one more year of college ball left, and Mike beginning his career at John Carroll, Anthony sees a bright future for the Raschilla boys.

“I never really got to play with him or watch him,” Anthony said. “We started practicing when he got to high school and he gets after it and works really hard. He put his time in and it’s paid off for him.

“With him going up to John Carroll and playing this year, we’ll be even closer because we’ll share the experiences of playing college baseball.”

But the rivalry will always remain when the Sox and Yanks hit the field and the brothers turn on the TV.