When I say it was supposed to be a fairly mediocre season for Brother Rice baseball, I’m probably being a little too kind. The Crusaders are on their third coach in three years and their top two pitchers transferred to other schools over the summer. Did I mention Rice was 14-15 last season with those two pitchers, Arizona recruit Ryan Koziol, now at Providence, and Mike Yacko, now at Oak Lawn? So how could the Crusaders come close to producing a winning season in 2012? I’ll tell you: By hiring an energetic, knowledgeable coach who has the players believing in themselves and his formula. Enter 27-year-old Johnny McCarthy, who succeeded one-and-done Dan Szmergalski and the supremely successful Tim Lyons. Rice is 14-8, matching its win total from last season. The record includes a victory over archrival Marist on April 17. The Crusaders are a solid 5-2 in the Catholic League Blue entering Monday’s game against Mount Carmel. Mighty impressive. While you and I might be surprised, McCarthy isn’t. “I expected success,” McCarthy said. “I honestly expected to be about 18-3 at this point.” McCarthy wasn’t laughing when he said that. That is one of the reasons he was the perfect choice to accelerate the Crusaders’ turnaround. Even if he is a St. Rita graduate.