Pinellas Park hired Pat Russo, a longtime fixture in Hillsborough County, to take over the baseball program. Russo replaces Bill Ruttencutter, who stepped down at the end of this season.
In coaching stints at Plant, Hillsborough and Tampa Catholic, Russo’s teams have earned five playoff berths, including two state final four appearances.
Russo’s most recent coaching stop was at Tampa Catholic, where he was 33-26 overall and guided the Crusaders to the Class 3A state tournament in 2010 and was one win short of a repeat trip in ’11. He stepped down in part because the school could not offer him a full-time position on staff.
He previously coached at Hillsborough and led the Terriers to the Class 5A state finals in 2006. Four months after that championship game appearance, Russo was fired amid recruiting allegations.
He also coached at Plant, where in six seasons (1996-2001) he compiled a 96-47 record.