BASEBALL: Kilbury tough to hit

Monrovia High’s junior pitcher continues to impress.

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By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
Richard Kilbury of Monrovia High School pitches against Temple City High School at Monrovia H.S. in Monrovia, April 23, 2008. (Correspondent photo by Larry Goren/Sports) MONROVIA – Monrovia High School co-baseball coach Dave Moore often simply refers to him as “the redheaded left-hander.”
Opposing teams have another name for junior Richard Kilbury – hard to hit.
Off the field, Wildcats pitcher Richard Kilbury has the type of personality that would make any parent proud.
But once he’s on the mound between those foul lines, Kilbury transforms into almost a Jekyll and Hyde-type personality.
Ultimately, one word describes Kilbury the best – he’s a competitor.
“He’s just a great competitor,” Moore said. “He’s unbelievably focused when he’s on the mound.”
When it comes to personalities, it’s clear that Kilbury wears more than one hat.
“He does such a good job of being a people person and is a very likeable young man,” Moore said. “At the same time, he has the ability to transform himself into a gamer when he puts that uniform on.”
Kilbury entered the week with an 8-1 record, a 0.41 earned-run average, one save and a team-high 74 strikeouts. He is 6-1 in his eight starts this season.
The 6-foot-1 lefty struck out 10 batters in five innings of work and had a no-decision during his team’s 1-0 loss to Temple City April 23. It was the third time Kilbury had struck out 10 or more this season. He fanned a season-high 14 in a 1-0 loss to La Caada April 3.
In his three years at the school, Kilbury has shown tremendous growth on the mound.
He was 4-0 (1.29 ERA) with a save as a freshman on a team that won the CIF-Southern Section Division V championship, and 3-2 (2.85 ERA) with three saves a year ago as the Wildcats were Division V runners-up.
“My freshman year I was kind of a spot guy and last year I got called on a lot more to pitch in bigger situations,” Kilbury said. “It’s kind of sobering how tough it really is to pitch at this level and that things aren’t always going to go your way.”
Win or lose, Kilbury brings a bulldog mentality each and every time he steps onto the field.
“I’ve always had the drive to be the best and have felt that if you’re not going to go for something all the way, why go for it at all?” Kilbury said.
Added Moore: “His work ethic is second to none.”
Kilbury had an opportunity to observe another competitive player in former Wildcats pitcher Eddie McKiernan for two seasons and was able to learn quite a bit.
“It was quite an advantage for him to pitch on a ballclub with Eddie McKiernan for two years and watch how he acted and performed on the mound,” Moore said. “I said two years ago when Eddie was with us, that I don’t know if I ever coached a kid as competitive as Eddie McKiernan, and I think we have another one in that same mode.”
Added Kilbury: “I learned a lot about his competitive spirit and about leading a team from him.”
According to Moore, Kilbury has adjusted well to the role of team leader quite well.
“He has no problem stepping up and willing the kids to jump on his back and go,” Moore said. “He’s not near as vocal as Eddie was, but his performance alone and the way you watch him work in practice and in games right away says that he’s a leader.”
Kilbury enjoys the leadership role.
“I’ve always been the kind of person that leads by example,” Kilbury said.
“I’m not going to try and force people to listen to me if they don’t want to. I’m going to go out there and work hard every day and hope that people back me up.”
A backup quarterback for the Wildcats, Kilbury dropped football to concentrate solely on baseball.
“I feel like I’m a lot more competitive when it comes to baseball, and I’ve spent a lot more time with it and feel I’m a lot better at it than football,” Kilbury said.
To date, Kilbury’s most memorable moment came when he hurled a complete-game 2-1 victory over Temple City March 28.
But Kilbury feels the biggest game to date for his team was a 6-4 win over highly touted Northview April 8, when he pitched the final three innings to earn the victory.
“That was huge because we were pretty much embarrassed by two pretty good teams,” Kilbury recalled. “To come back against a high-level team like that was huge for our morale and everything.”
With a 4.29 GPA, Kilbury should have plenty of options when it comes time to choose a college.
Kilbury has been contacted by Division I power Cal-State Fullerton, and is also considering Dartmouth of the Ivy League.
“I think right now I’d tend to go towards Dartmouth because of the high academic standing of the school,” Kilbury said.
In the meantime, Moore feels the only weakness Kilbury needs to perhaps work on is at the plate, where he is currently hitting .366 with two doubles and eight RBIs.
“I don’t know how much better he can get on the mound,” Moore said. “He was really coming along last month until he got his stiffness in his back after he pitches. So we kind of cut back on his batting practice.”
When the time does come for Kilbury to move on, Moore is confident the redheaded left-hander will be ready.
“You can teach curveballs and maybe pick up a mile or two on the fastball, but you can’t teach competitiveness, and that’s what he’s got going in,”Moore said. “That’s why I said Eddie would probably do very well in pro baseball because of his competitiveness, I think this kid, at the next level, will do the same.”