Bilder’s work paying off
Zach Bilder wasn’t happy with his hitting last year and also during the summer. He spent the winter trying to solve the problem and apparently has reached a solution.
Bilder has been one of the more consistent hitters all season, and he began play this week as the team RBI leader with nine. He recorded five of them generated by pair of doubles, helping his team to an 11-1 rout of Palisades April 8 that was the Roughies’ third consecutive win after an 0-2 start.
Bilder couldn’t recall the last time he notched five RBIs in a game. Through the first five games, Bilder has hit .308 with four doubles, a homer, and a team-high nine runs. In the following game, Bilder had a walk off RBI triple and also knocked in another run in the team’s 4-3 win over Salisbury Monday.
“I really feel that I am seeing the ball well,” said Bilder, a junior and one of a handful of returnees this spring. “ I knew that improving my hitting was a big priority for me. I knew if I could do it, I could really help the team.
“(Head coach Steve) Bradley worked with me all winter. He really spent a lot of time with me, and I believe it has been paying off.”
Bilder provides a potent middle of the lineup for the Roughies along with Rod Berger and Colin Hawk, who both have anchored the top of the rotation. When he isn’t behind the plate catching, Bilder is another likely starter.
Bradley has watched Bilder develop into a steady performer in all aspects of the game.
“Zach is a strong kid with a fantastic attitude,” said Bradley. “He has a laser arm behind the plate, and he has been invaluable as a pitcher. He has been working in the cage on controlling his bat and not pulling everything to left (field).
“He has been developing power to all fields, which has made him more dangerous at the plate. He is fitting in perfectly in the number three hole.”
Unlike most youngsters, Bilder took to catching as soon as he was able. He credited the perseverance and guidance of his father Mark, who also has an affinity to working behind the plate. Bilder also played football, but he devoted all of his time to baseball at the age of 10.
“My dad has had the biggest influence on my baseball career and everything else,” the younger Bilder said. “He took time off from work to spend with me. He worked on throwing and every aspect of the game with me.
“I always wanted to be a catcher. I can probably play all of the position in the infield, but I always have enjoyed catching.”
After their slow start and having the hangover of winnable games getting away from them last year, Bilder is confident he and his teammates can take the necessary steps to get back to district play this spring.
“I felt like we have come together,” he said. “We have good chemistry and we believe we can keep this going.”