Category Archives: Baseball

Waubonsee offers fall high school baseball

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College will host a fall baseball league for high school players who are not participating in any fall high school sports. This IHSA-approved league is the area’s longest running and most economical fall league. Over 2,100 players have participated throughout the past 29 years with hundreds going on to compete at the collegiate level.

The league is scheduled to run from Wednesday, Aug. 28, through the end of September. Games will be played on every Tuesday and Thursday during the month of September beginning at 4 p.m. each day. All games will be played on Waubonsee Community College’s baseball diamond in Sugar Grove and all players signed up are guaranteed playing time. Each of the eight game days will provide players the opportunity to use Waubonsee’s outdoor hitting facility that features two astro-turfed batting cages and multiple hitting stations.

Individuals interested in playing should attend an organizational meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 4:30 p.m. on the Sugar Grove campus. The meeting will take place in the college’s Auditorium, located behind Erickson Hall, Waubonsee’s gymnasium. A $60 fee is due at the time of the meeting.

For information, contact Waubonsee Athletic Manager Dave Randall at (630) 466-2527.

DSC_5771

Knights nine close out summer session

KANELAND—It was time well-spent, if you’re Kaneland High School baseball.

The summer session for baseball teams usually involved getting the capable athletes to play in tandem with one another, and hope for better things in nine months time.

Kaneland (20-10-3) was able to see how it was able to play together and how much hope it could have after its performance in the IHSBCA St. Charles East Regional on Monday against Cary-Grove High School and on Tuesday against Batavia.

The Knights fell in a 5-4 squeaker to No. 7 Batavia on Tuesday, after vanquishing the No. 15 seed Trojans by a 4-1 clip on Monday.

KHS coach Brian Aversa felt the Knight lineup acclimated well once school was out.

“Guys were really settling in,” Aversa said. “A lot of these guys are seniors now and they owned it. They know that win or lose, it’s on them.”

Batavia was set for a Wednesday semifinal matchup against St. Charles East/Geneva at regional host St. Charles East. The game was not completed in time for press.

The Bulldogs lineup got to Knights starter Steven Limbrunner early on Tuesday, connecting for five runs in the first three innings of action thanks to a single, three doubles and a triple. Matt O’Sullivan shut the door on Batavia’s lineup in the final four innings.

KHS came back in the third inning as Joe Panico was hit by a pitch and Austin Wheatley singled. Two batters later, a Nick Stratman grounder went under the third baseman’s legs allowing Panico to score. Two batters later, Matt Rosko’s two-run double made it 5-3.

Kaneland would cut it to 5-4 in the fifth after a Stratman RBI groundout scored Wheatley, but that play would close out the scoring for the afternoon.

“Batavia’s a good team,” Aversa said. “It was nice for our guys to battle. There were things we couldn’t control, but I wouldn’t feel bad.”

Kaneland also did battle beginning on July 7 at the Wood Bat Tournament hosted by St. Charles East.

As the fourth seed in Pool A, the July 7 meetings had KHS lose to St. Charles East 3-2 and St. Charles North 5-1. July 8 saw Kaneland best regional final foe St. Francis 7-4 to conclude the Wood Bat festivities.

Additionally, Kaneland had two members of the lineup, catcher Joe Laudont and infielder Danny Hammermeister, get a slot on the 2014 Wayne DeMaar All-Division team that also included players from St. Charles North, Geneva, West Chicago, St. Charles East, Batavia, Larkin and St. Francis.

Before the Wood Bat action, KHS also went on a tour of early-season staple Cincinnati and took second in the Cincinnati Fourth of July Baseball Tournament that went four days. The Knights rattled off four straight wins before losing to the Cincinnati Mustangs 7-3 in the championship.

jake_tickle_388_mba

Tickle earns athletic honors at Coe College

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA—Jake Tickle of Elburn earned an athletic letter for outstanding participation on the Coe College baseball team during the 2013-14 academic year. Tickle, a 2010 graduate of Kaneland High School, is the son of Elizabeth Tickle.

Tickle is a first-year letter winner in baseball. The baseball team is under the direction of 18th-year head coach Steve Cook. The Kohawks qualified for their seventh-straight Iowa Conference Tournament this season.

Kohawk athletics can be followed at www.CoeAthletics.com. Located near the heart of Cedar Rapids, Coe is a selective, private, nationally recognized liberal arts college providing superior quality educational experiences for students since 1851. Coe College has a reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe is dedicated to preparing students for fulfilling careers and graduate study.

Multi-tiered effort highlights summer league win over Batavia

KANELAND—Humid conditions in Maple Park didn’t make things easy for the Batavia Bulldogs baseball lineup.

Neither did the steady inning management of Knights pitcher Steven Limbrunner and the bats of Nick Stratman and Danny Hammermeister, as the KHS brethren walloped Batavia 8-0 in summer league play on Monday.

“To get these guys a look that they deserve and that we need on our end, it’s to see what they can do for us and for the future,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “That’s why we play the bottom of the seventh today. We’ve got guys we haven’t seen yet and starting to gel with these guys that have the experience under their belts.”

Now 5-1-1 in area action since the circuit started in mid-June, the Knights were beneficiaries of a steady mound performance by Limbrunner, who didn’t allow a run in six innings of work.

“Steve looked great today,”Aversa said. “Keeping Batavia at no runs, that’s nice and he had a nice pitch count.”

The party started early for KHS as Austin Wheatley singled and three batters later, centerfielder Stratman jacked a ball over the fence for a 2-0 lead.

“It was good; it was a fastball down the middle and I just barely felt it come off the bat,” Stratman said.

The bottom of the third inning effectively put the game out of reach with the Knights clogging bases on singles from Joe Panico and Joe Laudont and a Stratman walk. Hammermeister hit a towering ball just several feet from leaving the yard, but all three runners came home for a 5-0 edge.

The good fortune of the summer is carrying a bit of the disposition of the 2014 postseason homestretch, which saw the second regional plaque in school history.

“It feels like momentum is carrying over, and we’re starting to get along with all the new kids and everything,” Stratman said.

Kaneland was set to host Class 4A State semifinalist South Elgin on Thursday, June 26, at 3 p.m.

Summer time blues

Kaneland’s Monday meeting with MV ends in loss
GENEVA—In a stuffy setting at Geneva High School, the Knights’ summer league basketball team experienced their second Monday of the Geneva Summer League.

The result didn’t do much to improve the atmosphere.

Playing catchup for the majority of the running-clock tempo, the Knights took on Metea Valley of the Upstate Eight Conference and fell 46-31.

Kaneland fell to 2-3 in the early going of the summer session.

A physical game that saw junior Dylan Vaca contribute 16 points, the Knights and Mustangs each offered different styles of play, with the Mustangs more fast-break inclined.

“It’s a work in progress,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We’re more in a ‘let them play’ mode and have them try to learn our offense. Defensively, we’re not very sharp. This is summer ball and I like to look at it as giving our kids a chance to play.”

A three by Brett Hansen brought an early deficit closer to 12-9, but Metea Valley used quick passes and its speed advantage to go up 18-9. Down 20-12, Vaca’s foul shot trip closed the deficit to 20-14 before the Mustangs cemented the seven-point halftime margin.

The Knights were able to cut it to five at 25-20, and Vaca was later able to bring it to within 32-24, Metea Valley was running on too many cylinders for the Knights attack.

It was an opportunity to see what Kaneland was able to do in the midst of camp action and to see what players like Vaca, David and inside presence Jacob Gomes could bring to the floor.

“You expect up and down during the summer. This is going to be Dylan’s third year. He had big games during the season until he got hurt. He needs to be a big contributor this year, and I think he will be,” Johnson said.

After facing St. Charles East and Naperville Central on Wednesday in Viking territory, the Knights hit Geneva once again to meet both Streamwood and Waubonsie Valley on Monday, June 23, beginning at 5 p.m.

401

Sectional shutdown

Baseball’s quest ends in semifinal against rival Sycamore
ROCHELLE, Ill.—Kaneland’s baseball season came to an end on June 4, not with a bang or a whimper.

Rather, it was the inability to connect aluminum to ball.

In a pitchers’ duel, Kaneland was denied a single hit off Sycamore pitcher Colan Treml, while suffering a Brett Weaver home run in the bottom of the fifth in a 1-0 elimation loss.

The Class 3A Rochelle Sectional semifinal loss ends the Kaneland season at 18-16, while Sycamore (26-12) was set to participate in Monday’s Rock Island Super-Sectional at Augustana College after beating Rockford’s Boylan Catholic on Saturday morning.

Treml’s nine-strikeout day was matched by Kaneland sophomore standout Anthony Holubecki, winner of the regional semifinal against Aurora Central Catholic just eight days prior.

Holubecki (6-3) went 5.1 innings in the loss. The defeat at the hands of Northern Illinois Big XII rival Sycamore knotted up the season series at two games apiece between the two programs.

“It’s tough to take; it’s just one swing,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “(Anthony) pitched a great game, and you can’t ask much more than two hits from your pitcher.”

The recent run by Kaneland helped to offset a little of the late-season blues that saw KHS drop six of its previous eight contests before the playoff run.

The only baserunners Kaneland was afforded in Ogle County were Curtis Thorson reaching on the first at-bat of the game, thanks to a shortstop error, an error that allowed Joe Panico to reach base in the second inning on a play that was originally ruled a hit, and Thorson reaching again on a shortstop miscue in the third inning. Treml then proceeded to retire the final 14 batters of the game.

“We knew Treml likes to throw first-pitch fastballs and obviously his slider and curveball were nasty. We were behind in the count. Obviously, we don’t like being in that position, so we were going to be aggressive with the first pitch,” Aversa said.

With the loss, occurring after the school’s second-ever regional plaque, the Knights say goodbye to seniors Tyler Carlson, Sean Dunphy, Nick Henne, Nate Hopkins, Kevin Kassinger, Nick Stahl, Thorson and Lucas Wolski.

“This last week has been awesome for all of us,” Aversa said. “It’s been a fun ride. These kids could have easily packed it in after Senior Night, but they hung in there and dusted themselves off.”

Photo by Patti Wilk

Sweet revenge leads to Sectional

KHS no-hits ACC, outlasts St. Francis for first Regional crown since ‘11
PLANO—Do you remember what happened the last time Kaneland High School baseball captured a regional?

It led to a pileup on the Silver Cross Field mound in Joliet, Ill.

First things first, however, as the Knights braved the top-seeded St. Francis Saints of Wheaton in the Class 3A Plano Regional final on Saturday morning and won 4-1 in nine innings.

It marks the second regional title in school history and first since the State championship run three years ago. St. Francis beat Kaneland, 3-2 in the Kaneland Regional final of a year ago.

KHS got to exact playoff hurt on St. Francis after beating Aurora Central Catholic by a 12-0 margin in five innings on Friday evening, after losing to the Chargers in the penultimate regular season finale.

KHS also closed out its regular season with a 2-1 win on May 28 in Maple Park over Wheaton Warrenville South.

After losing six out of its previous eight, Kaneland has won three in a row and sits at 18-15 going into the Class 3A Rochelle Sectional.

“It feels really good after last year, losing on our own field. It’s great for our guys to battle, battle, battle and come back, and have heroes you wouldn’t expect. Hats off to Nick Stahl for doing a job today,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

Stahl, a late-inning asset for the Knights this year, pitched 2.1 innings of relief and earned the win after relieving starter Curtis Thorson and Nate Hopkins, but also slammed a two-run homer to centerfield to cinch the game in the top of the ninth.

It was his second varsity at-bat of the year.

“He is a P.O. (pitcher only) to the extreme. They do not waste time in the cages. They know their role. I told him there was a chance he might be coming up and he should be ready. I told him to make sure you swing at something that’s your pitch,” Aversa said.

After tying the game in the top of the sixth inning on a single by Tyler Carlson that resulted in two St. Francis errors and allowed Thorson to score all the way from first, the Knights were able to hold St. Francis scoreless in the sixth, seventh and eighth frames.

In the ninth, Nick Stratman was hit by a pitch with one out. Two batters later, Joe Panico laced an RBI double to left center to give KHS the lead for good.

“It wasn’t just on me, it was a whole team win,” Panico said. “The kid left me a fastball. Confidence grew throughout the game. We treated it like any other game and came out on top.”

Stahl, who gave up just one hit and fanned two, allowed two baserunners but left them stranded in the ninth.

The talk of the game wasn’t his pitching performance, however.

“I was thinking straight fastball because he was down in the count. I’m a P.O. so I don’t really hit that much. I don’t really know what happened,” Stahl said.

In the win over the No. 3 seed Chargers, the No. 2 seed Knights scored four in the first, one in the second, five in the third and two in the fourth to trigger the mercy rule scenario.

“We’ve really been working on our approach at the plate,” Aversa said. “Seeing the ball and seeing the zone, we were just patient today.”

Catcher Joe Laudont went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while Carlson went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI.

Hurler Anthony Holubecki (5-2) earned the win while Nick Henne pitched the fifth for the abbreviated no-hitter.

“That’s not a pushover team,” Holubecki said. “The guys did a great job at the plate. Joe called a great game, and I was pretty decent at working ahead.”

Against WWS, Jacob Bachio’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth cinched the win for reliever Colton Fellows.

Kaneland was set to face Hampshire Regional champ Sycamore, whom the Knights beat two out of three times this season, in Rochelle. The winner of the sectional semifinal would face either Rochelle or Boylan Catholic on Saturday, June 7.

Editor note: Kaneland lost to Sycamore Wednesday 1-0. Anthony Holubecki pitched 5.1 innings and had nine strikeouts, but was outdueled by Sycamore’s Colan Treml who pitched a seven-inning no hitter, striking out 10 Knights. Kaneland finished the season 18-16 overall, 9-6 in NIB-12 play.

DSC_0181

Ironing it out

Photo: Junior Jacob Bachio makes a play on an ACC runner at second base. Kaneland lost the final regular season matchup with ACC, 6-0, and play the Chargers again today at 4:30 p.m. in Plano. Photo by Mary Paulson

KHS diamond boys fall in regular season finale to upcoming playoff foe
KANELAND—If adjustments have to be made, there’s no more ideal time than just before the playoffs.

For KHS baseball, the adjustments in the current layoff will have to do enough before today.

With just one game on the slate this past week, the Knights lost to the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers lineup in Maple Park by a final of 6-0, in what Kaneland hopes is not a precursor to their regional meeting.

KHS finishes the regular season with a mark of 15-15 and 9-6 in Northern Illinois Big XII play. Kaneland is currently in a funk that has seen it drop six out of its last seven contests.

Kevin Kassinger was tagged with the loss in the Friday encounter, going four innings while giving up four runs on six hits.

ACC scored two runs in the first, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth to seal the result.

On the Knights side, Nate Hopkins went 1-for-2 with a walk, while Kevin Fuchs went 1-for-3 in the losing cause.

All that remains is the postseason, which first takes the form of the 3A Plano Regional.

KHS is set to play on Thursday, May 29, at 4:30 p.m. against No. 3 ACC as the second seed. The winner faces either No. 1 St. Francis of Wheaton or No. 4 Sandwich. Sandwich had defeated No. 5 Plano 2-1, while ACC defeated IMSA 17-0 in Monday games.

The regional final would take place on Saturday, May 31, at 10 a.m.
A year ago, St. Francis got the better of Kaneland in the Kaneland Regional final by 3-2 clip, in the Knights’ first regional final opportunity since the State championship run of 2011.

DSC_0391 (2)

Knights baseball makes diamond rough

Photo: Senior Curtis Thorson pitching for the Knights at the Pack the Park Special Event. Photo by Mary Paulson

KANELAND—On Thursday, Kaneland went to the Northern Illinois Big XII well once again for a trip to Morris, but lost 4-1. On Saturday, KHS hosted non-conference rival St. Charles East in Maple Park and lost 4-2.

Kaneland also traveled to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark for its Senior Night in Geneva, and faced Batavia only to lose 10-1. On Tuesday at Cary-Grove High School, the Knights earned a 6-4 win behind junior Nick Stratman’s five-inning effort and Anthony Holubecki’s four strikeouts in relief.

Kaneland sits at 15-14, with a 9-6 record in NIB-12 play, and just one regular season challenge left.

Facing the Redskins, Jacob Bachio went 1-for-2 with a run scored, while sophomore Holubecki was belted with the loss despite six strikeouts.

Against the Saints, Danny Hammermeister had an RBI groundout, and Stratman belted a solo homer in the seventh inning. Colton Fellows was tagged with the loss.

Sean Dunphy went 1-for-2 with an RBI against the Bulldogs, as Nick Henne suffered the loss on the mound.

The honorees before the varsity contest at the home of the Kane County Cougars were Harter Middle School student Drew Hahn, son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, and dealing with Anaplastic Large-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Phil Kassinger—father of Knight baseball player Kevin Kassinger—who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer; and KHS softball coach Brian Willis, battling colon cancer. All proceeds collected were donated to the families.

Tuesday saw Stratman also score two runs and go 2-4 at the plate. Tyler Carlson was 2-4 with a run and an RBI while Hammermeister was 1-4 with a double, run scored and two RBI.

On Friday, the Knights travel to Aurora Central Catholic for the regular season ender.

004

Rivals come together in Cougar-land

Photo: KHS softball coach Brian Willis, who is battling colon cancer, will be honored at Monday’s Pack the Park event at Fifth Third Bank Park in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland-Batavia clash to benefit great causes
KANELAND—Area baseball teams aren’t only mindful of the postseason task ahead. They’re also willing and able to help out their fellow man.

“This annual tradition has given us an avenue to do something bigger than baseball and has allowed each of the programs involved to give back to the community,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

On Monday, May 19, at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, home of the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars, Kaneland and Batavia will do battle for a Senior Night game that will benefit three honorees.

The honorees are Harter Middle School student Drew Hahn, son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, and dealing with Anaplastic Large-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Phil Kassinger, father of Knight baseball player Kevin Kassinger, who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer; and KHS softball coach Brian Willis, battling colon cancer.

“This year, we’ve found multiple needs in our community, and it is unfortunate that we can’t reach all the families that have been touched by this dreaded disease,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

Willis, who is scheduled for his last chemotherapy treatment the day of the game, is thankful of the proceedings.

“Thankfully I am almost done and hope I am cleared of any cancer cells left in my body,” Willis said. “Every day a new struggle starts or continues and that is who we fight for.”

Admission is $5 for adults and students, with kids under 6 able to be admitted for free. All proceeds collected will be donated to the honorees and their families.

The game is also slated to be broadcast on BATV, highschoolcube.com and the radio. Shirts will be available for purchase and multiple silent auctions will be going toward the benefit of the families, as well.

“This will be a very special night for the seniors, their parents, both baseball programs, and the people that we will be honoring,” Aversa said.

First pitch for the sophomore game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., while the varsity is slated to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights.

Visit khs.kaneland.org/content/pack-park for more details.

DSC_0031

May days going OK for baseball

Photo: Senior catcher Sean Dunphy (above) catches a pop-up foul in the first inning against Oswego Saturday. Photos by Mary Paulson

KANELAND—Dealing with some rivalries and non-conference foes this past week, the Knights were tripped up after a close win.

On Monday, Kaneland traveled to Morris and lost 6-3. Tuesday saw the Knights lose again to Morris 4-2.

On Saturday in Maple Park against the Southwest Prairie Conference’s Oswego Panthers, the Knights fell victim to an 8-7 edging. That game was preceded by a trip to Sycamore and a 2-1 win.

Kaneland baseball now sits at a steady 14-11 clip, with a 9-5 mark in the Northern Illinois Big XII.

Facing Morris Monday, it was Nate Hopkins suffering the loss against the Redskins. On Tuesday, Curtis Thorson took the loss, but had nine strikeouts. Hammermeister went 1-1 with two RBI, while Hopkins went 1-1 with a double.

Against the visiting Panthers on Saturday, Thorson was tagged with the loss in the extra eighth inning after surrendering a run in relief.

Kaneland scored two runs in its half of the sixth to go up 7-5 before an unfortunate rally in the top of the seventh sent the game to an extra frame.

For the Knights, Tyler Carlson went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double, while teammate Austin Wheatley went 3-for-4 with a run scored. Both Danny Hammermeister and Jacob Bachio went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.

Against the familiar black-and-gold adversaries last Thursday, KHS benefited from plating a run in the top of the seventh for the difference, thanks to a Joe Panico RBI. Sean Dunphy went 2-for-3 with a double. Nick Henne earned the win to improve to 4-0, thanks to retiring four batters. Nick Stahl earned his seventh save by stifling the final two hitters for Sycamore.

“Our staff has done a nice job of keeping us in games. We have to continue to get better defensively and offensively,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We can hang with anyone in the state if we limit the errors and the extra outs that we give teams. ”

Kaneland treks to Morris for more NIB-12 action on Thursday. On Monday, May 19, Kaneland and Batavia celebrate Senior Night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, benefitting honorees whose families are battling cancer.

“I think we have a great community of former players and their families, and the connection to the community that we always make is a big draw,” Aversa said. “Plus I would like to think that Kaneland and Batavia are a couple of pretty good baseball programs, and we will both put on a good show with some good baseball. ”

DSC_0238

DSC_0213

DSC_0185

DSC_0168

DSC_0129

DSC_0085

DSC_0031

DSC_0007

Pack the Park event at Fifth Third Bank Park May 19

GENEVA—The Kaneland Knights and Batavia Bulldogs baseball teams want to pack the park at Geneva’s Fifth Third Bank Park May 19 to raise money for three honorary families to help them in their battles with cancer.

This year’s honorees include Kaneland softball head coach Brian Willis, Kaneland senior baseball player Kevin Kassinger’s father, Phil, and Drew Hahn, a 12-year-old Kaneland Harter Middle School student, whose father is the head baseball coach at Geneva High School.

The event will also be a senior night celebration.

Admission is $5, and in addition to sophomore and varsity baseball action, the event includes silent auctions. The sophomores play at 4:30 while the varsity teams take the field at 7 p.m.

For general information, donations or sponsorship information, contact Brian Aversa at brian.aversa@kaneland.org or visit Kaneland.org/content/pack-park.

Despite pair of losses, KHS still moving on basepaths

KANELAND—The won/loss percentage may have sunk a tad, but Kaneland baseball has shown it has the talent on all sides of the diamond to work past troubles.

On May 1, defending conference champ Yorkville invaded Maple Park and won 11-1 in five innings, while Friday had the Aurora Christian Eagles slip past the Knights in a 1-0 affair. Saturday had a trip to Crystal Lake, Ill., to square off against the Prairie Ridge Wolves and a comeback win for KHS, 7-4. On Monday, a home-and-home series beginning at Sycamore had a 1-0 loss to the Spartans, while Tuesday saw the Knights turn the tables and beat Sycamore 3-2.

Kaneland is now 13-8, with a 8-3 mark in the Northern Illinois Big XII swing of things.

KHS also needs to spell the loss of catcher and two-hole hitter Joe Laudont, who suffered a broken thumb.

“I think that with the recent loss of Laudont to a broken thumb, we psychologically had a setback,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “Physically, we have the tools to continue to play at a high level of baseball like we did on Saturday against Prairie Ridge. We are trying to find guys to step up and fill that void in the lineup both offensively and defensively.”

Against Yorkville, Nate Hopkins was tagged with the loss after retiring just five hitters. Yorkville had seven runs in the top of the second. Tyler Carlson went 1-for-2 with an RBI to drive in Nick Stratman.

Stratman went 5.1 innings against AC and fell to 1-2, while giving up just three hits. The Eagles’ run came in the top of the sixth. Jacob Bachio went 1-for-2 with a walk.

Prairie Ridge took a 4-1 lead after four innings until Kaneland scored three in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh for the win.

Jordan Bock earned his first win on the mound by pitching the sixth inning, while Nick Stahl earned his fifth save while surrendering just two hits.

Sean Dunphy of Kaneland went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, while Stratman went 1-for-4 with three RBI.

Curtis Thorson was tagged with the loss on Monday against Sycamore.

Hopkins helped the Knights even their series against Sycamore Tuesday, allowing only two runs over six innings. Carlson had a double and an RBI, while Stratman smacked a two-run home run to put the Knights ahead in a big three-run sixth-inning rally.

Kaneland prepares to face the host Sycamore in the final game of the series tonight at 4:30 p.m.

Case of the missing bats


Baseball, Softball levels bear witness to no-hitters, perfect game
KANELAND—To win on the baseball or softball field, many things have to go right.

For a no-hitter or perfect game to be thrown, pitches have to go right past the bats with regularity.

Area residents have been privy to each of those if they’ve ventured out to see Kaneland baseball and softball this 2014 campaign, with softball talent Angie Morrow’s no-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader at Geneva on April 19, and baseball’s Nate Hopkins tossing a no-no at Plano April 9, and sophomore hurdler Matt O’Sullivan’s perfect game for the lower-class level Knights against Yorkville last week.

For Morrow, this pitching feat was nothing new, having thrown a no-hitter against the Hampshire Whip-purs her freshman year as a Burlington Central Rocket. Morrow was able to keep composure during the 3-0 win.

“I had one my freshman year against Hampshire at Burlington. Those games don’t feel different. You don’t usually realize it until someone tells you. I just try to stay within myself,” Morrow said.

The very act of pitching and concentrating can almost serve as a distraction from the daunting task.

“There’s always something you’re working on, and it’s until the end of the game when it’s over and someone says congratulations,” Morrow said.

For Hopkins’ 11-0 win in Plano against the Reapers, the Knights saw no-hit stuff from Hopkins in the six-inning affair, but it was a multi-faceted victory.

“I feel like defense is definitely a big part of it,” Hopkins said. “There was a play at shortstop that saved my no-hitter and really helped me.”

It made for a memorable April Wednesday.

“I think I was dealing, and I feel like I was going really well, and the team’s not supposed to say anything during the game. I didn’t even know there were no hits until the sixth inning.”

Elements from multiple areas need to converge for the noteworthy achievement.

“A no-hitter or perfect game takes a lot to happen,” KHS varsity baseball head coach Brian Aversa said. “It’s not just the pitcher, but defense is very important, as well. You need a few things to go your way. Joe Panico made a diving stop up the middle to save a hit at short. You need to catch a break or two. I think no-hitters are a culmination of many things, not just someone going out there and throwing well.”

KHS also got a glimpse of what could be on the horizon with a “perfecto” tossed by lefty sophomore Matt O’Sullivan against Yorkville last Thursday.

The 21-up, 21-down effort went 11-0 in the favor of the Knights, with O’Sullivan aware of the Foxes’ tendencies.

“The game before, we kind of saw and learned they liked to chase the high stuff,” O’Sullivan said. “I tried to get ahead in the count and then throw the high stuff.”

The sophomore knows that it’s a team effort for a perfect result.

“You’ve got to have defense. There were a couple of diving catches. There’s no way that a no-hitter’s possible without it,” O’Sullivan said.

With the recent rash of exceptional pitching accomplishments, the Kaneland baseball and softball programs have shown what’s possible with all aspects working on the diamond.

109

Steady lineup

Photo: Sophomore Anthony Holubecki went six strong innings Monday against Yorkville. Photo by Patti Wilk

Baseball looks to solidify against Yorkville, DeKalb, Wheaton Academy
KANELAND—Compared to last year’s mediocre season output, it appears this year’s version of the Knights on the diamond has found its footing quite well.

This past week saw a home defense against rival Yorkville on Monday, seeing a 2-0 win at KHS. On Saturday, Kaneland went to West Chicago to face Wheaton Academy and fell 3-1, but managed to snatch a home-and-home with DeKalb, winning 5-3 and 7-3 down the Knights way.

Following Monday’s action, Kaneland is 11-4 and 7-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII landscape.
Anthony Holubecki on Monday took the win after RBIs from Joe Panico and Tyler Carlson in the bottom of the sixth. Nick Stahl earned the save, his fourth.

Saturday’s non-conference affair against the host Warriors saw Colton Fellows (2-1) get tagged with the loss, despite a steady six-inning effort with three strikeouts. Fellows allowed three runs on six hits.

Joe Laudont went 1-for-3 with the lone RBI in the fifth inning.

The Friday matchup with DeKalb had Nate Hopkins earn his second win of the season, allowing three runs on seven hits, while Stahl pitched a perfect seventh for the save.

The Knights were able to pound out 15 hits, including Laudont going 3-for-4 with a double and triple, and Holubecki going 3-for-4 with three doubles to his credit.

Last Thursday, it was a four-run rally to break a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth that helped KHS win out. Nick Henne retired the last four batter to earn his first win of the season.

Jacob Bachio went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored, while Lucas Wolski went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.

The Knights host Yorkville on Thursday, May 1.

Baseball dethrones DeKalb, sits at 8-3

Key second inning, pitching prowess make good recipe for NIB-12 win
KANELAND—It’s good to be a member of Kaneland baseball at the moment.

By that same token, it must be a giant headache to be on the opposite side of the diamond.

With an 8-3 record, and 4-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII, the Knights are seeing timely hitting and borderline dominant pitching at the front and back ends of the depth chart.

On Monday in DeKalb, the Knights endured a 35-minute lightning delay to stifle the host Barbs 7-2.

Earlier action in the week had Kaneland host Geneva and emerge with a 7-6 win in nine innings. In a three-game NIB-12 tussle with the Rochelle Hubs, the Knights engineered a three-game sweep, beating the Hubs 9-2 in Ogle County on Friday, winning 7-5 on Thursday in Maple Park and beginning the series with a 7-5 win on April 16 at home.

On Monday, winning sophomore starter Anthony Holubecki struck out seven in five innings, while walking four. Reliever Nick Stahl was lights out with four strikeouts in a perfect two-inning outing.

Joe Laudont was 2-3 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored, while teammate Tyler Carlson was 3-3 with a walk and a run scored.

Down 1-0, Kaneland poured on a four-run rally. Joe Panico’s sacrifice fly scored Connor Fedderly, while an RBI single by Laudont worked for the eventual game-winning RBI. Carlson reached on a play that resulted in two errors by the DeKalb defense bringing home Bachio and courtesy runner Austin Wheatley for a 4-1 advantage.

The score would remain in stasis through a third-inning lightning delay under threatening skies until the top of the seventh, where the Knights’ three insurance runs came thanks to RBI singles from Laudont and Nate Hopkins, along with an RBI double from Nick Stratman.

‘We’ve got some work to do these next couple days to be happy,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “Anthony is throwing well. Obviously, his pitch count was a little high for our liking. When he’s on, he’s on, and when he’s not, he’s not. He did a good job of coming back after that lightning delay and being a little more efficient than what he was.”

Laudont played a sizable part in the win, with his bat as well as behind the plate.

“Joe (Panico) is always great to hit behind because I know he’ll get on in front of me,” Laudont said. “He’s a great guy to drive in and gets me fired up.”

In the extra-inning win against former conference rival Geneva, Nick Henne earned the win in relief, while Laudont’s RBI single was the game-winning hit.

On Friday, the Knights were amped from a six-run sixth inning to ice the contest in the seven-run win. In Thursday’s two-run squeaker at Kaneland, Fedderly emerged with a 3-for-3 day with two driven in. KHS scored two in the bottom of the sixth to break it open and give Henne the win in relief. Action on April 18, coming a day after snow had hit the area, had KHS put up three runs in the second inning for the win. Carlson had two hits, while Holubecki had 10 Ks in the win.

On Thursday, April 24, Kaneland continues its series with visiting DeKalb.

IMG_8891

Kaneland baseball hits Ohio

KANELAND—Playing at the University of Cincinnati against Ken Griffey Jr.’s former high school team was the highlight of a spring break trip for the Kaneland baseball team that featured more cancelations than games.

The Knights’ ability to get out to a field and get regular season action underway had been hampered by the difficult winter and early spring, but were able to find their way to Ohio for a Friday game against Archbishop Moeller at the Bearcats’ home, Marge Schott Stadium. Moeller defeated the Knights 8-4.

The Knights made the most of a trip down south, where there were more cancellations, even taking in a Cincinnati Reds-St. Louis Cardinals game at Great American Ballpark.

“Even though we didn’t play more than one game, we got a lot accomplished as a team as far as team bonding and having fun goes. We also rented an indoor facility on two different days and got some good practice in,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “The good thing is, we played with the best, we know what we are capable of doing, we just have to go out and do that now. So if anything, this trip got these kids believing in what we are capable of doing.”

On Tuesday, KHS suffered a 7-2 setback at the hands of host West Aurora.

Kaneland is now 0-3 on the young season.

Against Moeller, the 17th-ranked team in the nation in the USA Today rankings, KHS took a 2-0 lead after the top of the 1st and a 4-1 lead after its turn in the 3rd. Moeller returned the favor and then some with five in the 4th and two more in the 6th to ice it.

Hurler Anthony Holubecki (pictured above) was tagged with the loss after 4 1/3 innings and six runs (one earned) on three hits.

Curtis Thorson went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Joe Laudont went 1-for-3 with an RBI triple.

“We will make small adjustments here and there throughout our lineup and our pitching staff,” Aversa said. “The toughest part is going a full week, or in last year’s case, two weeks, without consistently playing games. Once we get into that groove, I think we will be much more comfortable with what we are doing both at the plate and in the field. We’ve played two games and have only had one practice on our field. We just have to take advantage of every opportunity that we have when we can get on a field to practice.”

Against West Aurora, KHS got an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second before surrendering five runs in the bottom of the second. The Blackhawks added another run in both the fourth and sixth innings to claim victory. Joe Laudont and Austin Wheatley went 1-3, while Joey Panico went 1-2 with a run and a walk. Nick Stahl took the loss for the Knights.

The Knights were scheduled for a road game at Plano on Wednesday, followed by a home matchup with Hononegah in Rockton, Ill., on Thursday, April 10, and a Northern Illinois Big XII crossover tussle with host Sterling on Saturday, April 12.

IMG_8861

Knights can’t find friendly diamond

CAROL STREAM, Ill.—Knight baseball were finally able to get out on the field to begin the 2014 regular season.

It shall have to wait a bit longer for its first win to be in the books.

Housed at the American Legion fields in Carol Stream, Ill., the Knights took on former conference rival Batavia, only to lose in a 2-1 squeaker.

“It was nice to see some things that we did well and it was good to see what we need to still work on,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We will be able to figure things out here pretty quickly, and hopefully we can get in a rhythm getting some games in if Mother Nature cooperates.”

The Bulldogs scored single runs in the bottom of the third and fifth innings, while Kaneland plated a run in the sixth inning.

Curtis Thorson led Kaneland with two hits in the losing effort, and Nick Stahl earned the loss on the mound.

The Knights were bound for the Cincinnati area for a three-game spring break trip, beginning on Thursday, April 3, at Bishop Elder. On Friday, April 4, the Knights square off against Archbishop Moeller, alma mater of Ken Griffey, Jr., and face Dixie Heights on Saturday, April 5.

112

2014 Baseball Preview: Big hopes in Big XII

Photo: Junior catcher Danny Hammermeister and senior catcher Sean Dunphy practice indoors with the baseball team. Photo by Patti Wilk

Diamond crew looks to turn page, rebound from a year ago
KANELAND—Knights baseball in 2014 represents, in essence, a new beginning.

One year after getting bumped in its own Class 3A regional final by Wheaton’s St. Francis to finish just 13-18, KHS said goodbye to 15 seniors and the last remnants of the 2011 State champs.

This year, a somewhat new gaggle of varsity players take the field and look to remedy the first losing campaign for Kaneland baseball since 2006.

Bright spots can be located in the fact that the 2013 roster had current contributors around for the first regional game win in two years that occurred over Sandwich High School, and the talent familiar with the winning tradition of the last decade.

“It kind of feels that way every year, we bring in a bunch of guys,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “This class is a junior-dominated baseball class. We have seven seniors, and those guys have experience, but not all are position players. We have a young squad and brought up two sophomores.”

At the head of the positive contribution could be returning all Northern Illinois Big XII standout Tyler Carlson, getting a late jump on things due to basketball. The senior will switch to first base in 2014, putting the pieces in place for other returnees.

“He’s going to move over to first, and he was an all-conference third baseman for us. We see that we can move him around where we need him the most. We lost Joe Komel but, we have guys like Curtis Thorson, who’s going to be great in the outfield and guys like Nate Hopkins who can pitch and play the outfield, and Nick Stahl who we’re going to be leaning on a lot this year,” Aversa said.”

The pitching staff taking the Maple Park mound will be on the young side, as well, but with room to grow.

“We feel confident in what we’re doing with these guys and what we’ve seen so far,” Aversa said.

Hopkins, Anthony Holubecki, Thorson and Stahl look to make up the four-man starting rotation, with a by-committee angle to the late-inning outs until someone emerges.

Juniors Nick Stratman and Colton Fellows could see time on the bump for the Knights during 2014, as well.

“We’re going to feel our way through spring break and see who’s our short-inning relief guy,” Aversa said.

Joining Carlson around the infield are personnel like Joe Panico, Austin Wheatley, Jake Bilotta and Jake Bachio. Sophomore Joe Laudont and senior Sean Dunphy don the “tools of ignorance” behind home plate.

Outfielders include Thorson, Lucas Wolski, Connor Fedderly, Hopkins and Holubecki.

For diamonds in the rough, the head coach feels two of the capable arms could surprise.

“We had two guys we weren’t sure about in the summer in Stratman and Fellows. Both have kind of really opened our eyes off the mound. We’re pleasantly surprised,” Aversa said.

Other Knights looking to make a contribution include seniors River Dunne, Nick Henne and Kevin Kassinger, and juniors Jordan Bock, Kevin Fuchs, Dan Hammermeister and Steve Limbrunner.

The Northern Illinois Big XII landscape will provide a just testing ground for the Kaneland ranks in 2014.

“Sycamore’s always great with a great coach, and Yorkville—they’re the two top teams and everyone’s going to be chasing them,” Aversa said.

The schedule features a spring break trip the first week of April while the area thaws, to the Cincinnati area and schools like Moeller High School—defending state champs and alma mater of Ken Griffey, Jr.

“We’re going to be tested and see what good baseball looks like, and hopefully by the time we get back from our spring break trip, we’ll be going into conference playing at such a high level that teams are going to be ‘holy cow’,” Aversa said.

The season begins on Tuesday, March 25, at Plainfield North, with conference battles beginning on Monday, April 14, against visiting Rochelle. Monday, May 19, has the usual Fifth Third Bank Ballpark matchup in Geneva against Batavia.

photo

Former Knight champs boost CSBL Joliet squad in postseason

Photo: Former KHS baseball player Brian Dixon (left) helped the Joliet Dirtbags baseball team beat the Crestwood Pantheers 14-4 in seven innings on Thursday in Midlothian, Ill. The Dirtbags qualified to compete in the NABF Major Regional tournament, set to begin Thursday, Aug. 1. The team features a pair of former Knights, with pitcher Kyle Davidson also on the team. Courtesy Photo

Davidson on mound, Dixon with glove help Dirtbags to 14-4 rout
MIDLOTHIAN—The Joliet Dirtbags baseball team had some nice moments before its end in the Chicago Suburban Baseball League’s postseason tournament, and two former Knights were the reason why.

Former Knight and current Millikin Big Blue Kyle Davidson pitched a strong six innings and teammate and fellow former Knight Brian Dixon played strong on the infield to propel the team to a 14-4 win over the Crestwood Panthers in seven innings last week.

The league tournament journey came to an end for the Dirtbags by a final of 9-2 on Friday at Madison Meadows in Lombard, Ill. By virtue of their finish, the Dirtbags, with five members of the Millikin team, are set to compete in the NABF Major Regional beginning on Thursday, Aug. 1.

The finals of the CSBL tourney had Lombard beat Beecher on Saturday, 8-0.

The Dirtbags, now 18-19, were faced with a total elimination on Thursday after a 13-3 rout suffered at Homewood-Flossmoor High School to the Beecher Mustangs.

However, the team turned around its fortunes against Crestwood in its big win.

Davidson was able to hold off a rally from the mound after giving up a two-run homer for a 4-3 disadvantage and fanned six members of the Crestwood lineup, giving up four runs on five hits.

“If we lost, we go home, and the same with them,” Davidson said. “We had to come out and play our best game.”

Dixon, who was moved from his usual No. 8 or No. 9 hole, to second in the order by Dirtbags skipper Kevin Campbell, smacked an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score at 4-4.

After a bases loaded walk broke the tie, Dixon (1-for-5, RBI) came home on a two-run single, effectively icing the game at 7-4.

“I was not expecting to bat (second),” Dixon said. “I like it; it’s different and it’s nice to get a different feel, and I took a different approach to it.”

In a do-or-die situation like the one presented on Thursday, Dixon preferred the smart approach to the hacking attack.

“Now is the time to be smart, definitely,” Dixon said. “That’s the way I’m looking at it. If it’s the right pitch and right count, I’m taking it.”

Dixon, at second base, was able to stab a liner off the Panthers lineup with runners on base in the top of the fifth that protected the lead.

Joliet scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth for an 11-4 lead, and scored three more to end it via the mercy rule, the last of which coming on a passed ball.

“Looking at their stats, I knew their top four guys were probably their best, so I tried to pound them, and cruise with the other guys,” Davidson said.

The Dirtbags’ next obstacle, the NABF Major Regional, is hosted by Beecher.

Summer close-out

Boylan Catholic ends Knight baseball’s summer season
KANELAND—After the events of Monday in Maple Park, it seems like the lineup from Boylan Catholic of Rockford was a little better than the No. 13 seed.

Boylan traveled to No. 4 KHS on Monday to compete at the Phil Lawler Classic, which traditionally marks the end of IHSBCA summer competition, and solved the hosts in a 7-3 outing.

The Knights finished the summer with an 18-14-2 record, an acceptable turnaround from a 2013 regular season that ended under .500.

The two schools were part of the St. Charles East Regional, with Boylan scheduled to play Batavia on Tuesday.

Boylan took advantage of select fielding miscues throughout the game. Both teams had to wait 62 minutes to start after a downpour hit the area five minutes before the first pitch.

“They kept just scratching a run across and fighting, fighting, fighting,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We didn’t make the plays we needed to and didn’t get the hits we needed to.”

Boylan managed a run in the first and a run in the second off of starter Nate Hopkins for a 2-0 lead. The visitors plated two more in the fourth and two more in the fifth to go up 6-0 before Kaneland finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth.

Despite Hopkins being on the short end of the loss, Aversa and company value his skills and need him for the future.

“Nate is definitely one of those kids we’ll lean on, and I think our pitching will be one of our strengths,” Aversa said.

After Danny Hammermeister walked with one out, Curtis Thorson drove him in with a single two batters later.

The bottom of the sixth saw KHS convert on the longball thanks to catcher Joe Laudont’s homer to left that closed the deficit to 6-2.

Boylan managed another run in the top of the seventh for a five-run lead. Down five runs with three outs remaining, Connor Fedderly scored on a fielder’s choice play gone awry off the bat of Laudont to get within 7-3. After a walk loaded the bases, however, the visitors coaxed a strikeout and groundout to the pitcher to end the threat and the game.

Dixon

What a ‘dirtbag’

Former Knight Dixon finds role with Joliet Dirtbags men’s team
KANELAND—For countless players of high school baseball, playing for your school is all you can hope for, much less be on a field celebrating a State championship.

Kaneland High School graduate Brian Dixon checked both of those things off his list in 2011.
Now, after suiting up for the Millikin University Big Blue the last two seasons, the former Knight also finds himself in the amateur men’s baseball circuit.

Dixon currently plays for the Joliet Dirtbags, a team that is part of the Chicago Suburban Baseball League. The league features teams from the Chicagoland area, including from Lombard and Oswego, Ill. Home games for the Dirtbags take place at Joliet Catholic High School during the summer.

Featuring players in college or one year out of college, the CSBL has seen a select few make it to Major League Baseball, like most recent examples Ian Krol (Naperville, Ill.) of the Washington Nationals and George Kontos (Lincolnwood, Ill.) of the San Francisco Giants.

Dixon, an Art/Graphics Design major at Millikin, just wanted to be in the best baseball shape he could be.

“I got to know Coach (Kevin) Campbell at Millikin, and when he mentioned there was a spot on the team, I took it,” Dixon said.

Dixon, who patrols second for the fourth-year Dirtbags, has seen a marked improvement in his game in his first year for the CSBL.

“I’ve really improved on hitting and getting on base since Kaneland,” Dixon said. “I’ve gotten stronger and had more confidence.”

Going as far as Waukegan, Ill., for league games, Dixon has become accustomed to the amateur travel setting, helped by his play for Millikin, and the five-strong Millikin connection in Joliet that includes fellow State champ Kyle Davidson.

“There’s a lot of guys from St. Francis in Joliet, and there’s some guys with Millikin, including coach Campbell. It was easy to step into that group right away, and now we’re all familiar with each other,” Dixon said.”

Campbell feels Dixon is a player the 10-8 Dirtbags are fortunate to have.

Dixon is hitting .273 with an on base percentage of .418.

“Guys like him are good to build around, and I’ve seen them in action. You can stick them in the eight or nine-hole and they hold their own against teams with Division I talent,” Campbell said.

For now, Dixon doesn’t seem to mind what pedigree the other teams like the Oswego Cats bring to the diamond. When he’s not working at the Kane County Forest Preserve or hanging with friends, he’s happy to play like a Dirtbag.

“It’s a team with good players, and it’s definitely competitive,” Dixon said.

Tyler Carlson - File photo

Taking summer stock

Photo: Tyler Carlson contributed a couple RBI, but it wasn’t enough as the Knights fell short in their Summer League comeback bid against Sycamore 7-6 on Monday. File Photo

Sycamore bests Kaneland in summer league action
SYCAMORE—It’s never a nice feeling to lose to a close and storied rival like Sycamore, but you can try to find some encouraging developments within.

A back-and-forth tilt on a sunny and breezy Monday in Sycamore off of Airport Road went Sycamore’s way in a 7-6 comeback win during the end of June.

Kaneland, at 7-6, has two more summer league contests before the tournament and IHSCBA postseason circuit begins in one week.

KHS had Colton Fellows, Nick Stahl and Kevin Kassinger get time on the mound, with Fellows working the first half of the action.

“Colton is one of those guys that’ll be right there in the mix, and we expect big things of him,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “He had a strong sophomore season, and we’re feeling him out and seeing what he can do and what pitches he throws well.”

Fellows failed to get much run support early, and the Knights found themselves down 2-0 after single runs in the first and second innings.

The top of the fourth inning saw KHS load the bases on two errors and a single, and Jacob Bachio’s double play managed to bring home the first run. Jake Bilotta’s single brought home Joe Panico to tie the score at 2-2.

Kaneland took a lead with a two-spot in the top of the fifth, thanks to an RBI single by Ty Carlson and an RBI double by Danny Hammemeister.

Sycamore’s double in the bottom of the fifth tied the score at 4-4, and the team managed three more runs to take a 7-4 lead.

That left three outs for KHS to try and rally some runs, beginning with a single, infield error and walk. Carlson reached on an infield single to drive home a run, followed by a Joe Laudont sac fly. However, a double-play stifled the remaining rally and ended the game.

“I told the guys that they’re going to get opportunities, but they’re opportunities to fail or opportunities to succeed. Some guys grasped the opportunities and some need to buckle down,” Aversa said.

[colored_box color=”yellow”]

KNIGHT NUMBERS

3.27

The KHS baseball squad, with a 3.27 GPA for the season, earned an IHSA Team Academic Award. This award recognizes teams that maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout their respective season.

[/colored_box]

limbrunner

2013 Spring Athletic Banquet Awards

The Kaneland High School Athletics Department on Thursday, June 6, announced the award winners for varsity high school athletics.

Below are those winners.

Knight Award

for three-sport athletes:
Ashley Castellanos—Cross Country,
Basketball, Track and Field;
Sarah Grams—Tennis, Basketball, Softball;
Brooke Harner—Tennis, Basketball, Soccer;
Dan Miller—Golf, Basketball, Baseball
Female Athlete of the Year: Sarah Grams
Male Athlete of the Year: Matt Limbrunner
Female Birkette Award: Sarah Grams
Male Birkette Award: Dan Miller

2013 Spring NIBXII
All Conference

Girls Track:
Brianna Bower, Ashley Castellanos, Victoria Clinton, Christina Delach, Allie Heinzer, Jessica Kucera, Amanda Lesak, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Lauren Zick, Abby Dodis, Kyla Goodine, Kaltrina Ismaili, Rachel Steinmiller, Elle Tattoni
Boys Track:
Dylan Kuipers, Kory Harner, Tanner Andrews, Nate Dyer, Brandon Cottier, Brandon Bishop, Ben Barnes, Isaac Swithers, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Luis Acosta, Dylan Nauert
Girls Soccer:
Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek, Madi Jurcenko, Courtney Diddell, Sage Schlehofer
Softball:
Hayley Contorno, Allyson O’Herron, Lanie Callaghan, Lexi Roach, Paige Kuefler
Baseball:
Matt Limbrunner, Dan Miller, Tyler Carlson

2013 Boys
Track and Field Awards

MVP—Track: Dylan Nauert
MVP—Field: Tanner Andrews
Drendel Award: Jay Markuson
Captains:
Conor Johnson, Kory Harner, Brad Kigyos, Brandon Cottier, Marshall Farthing, John Meisenger
Ron Probst Award: Ben Barnes
All Conference:
Dylan Kuipers, Kory Harner, Tanner Andrews, Nate Dyer, Brandon Cottier, Brandon Bishop, Ben Barnes, Isaac Swithers, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, Kyle Carter, Luis Acosta, Dylan Nauert
State Qualifiers:
Conor Johnson and Kyle Carter—
4x800m, 4x400m Relays;
Luis Acosta—4x800m Relay;
Nathaniel Kucera—4x800m,
4x400m relays, 400m Dash;
Brandon Bishop and Brandon Cottier—
4x100m Relay, 200m Dash;
Ben Barnes—4x100m Relay;
Dylan Nauert—4x100m Relay, 4x400m Relay,
110m Hurdles, 300m Hurdles;
Tanner Andrews—Triple Jump;
Marshall Farthing—High Jump;
Nate Dyer—Shot Put;
Dylan Kuipers and Kory Harner—Pole Vault

2013 Girls
Track and Field Awards

MVP: Ashley Castellanos, Lauren Zick
Most Improved:
Murphy Garcia, Kyla Goodine
Captains:
Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos,
Abby Dodis
State Qualifiers:
Brianna Bower—3200m Run;
Victoria Clinton—1600m Run;
Ashley Castellanos—Triple Jump,
4x400m Relay;
Amanda Lesak—4x800m Relay,
4x400m Relay;
Sydney Strang—4x800m Relay;
Lauren Zick—4x400m Relay, Long Jump;
Christina Delach—Pole Vault;
Allie Heinzer—4x400m Relay;
Jessica Kucera—4x800m Relay;
Aislinn Lodwig—4x800m Relay

2013 Varsity Girls
Soccer Awards

Captains:
Jordan Ginther, Anne Marie Giese,
Brooke Harner
Most Improved Player: Emily Grams
Rookie of the Year:
Sage Schlehofer, Kiandra Powell
Coach’s Award:
Courtney Diddell, Heather Ortiz,
Delaney Stryczek
Lady Knights Award:
Michelle Ortiz, Brittany Olson,
Madison Jurcenko
Most Valuable Player: Jordan Ginther
All Conference:
Sage Schlehofer, Jordan Ginther, Delaney Stryczek, Madison Jurcenko, Courtney Diddell
All Conference-Honorable Mention:
Kiandra Powell

2013 Softball Awards
Defensive Player of the Year:
Hayley Contorno
Offensive Player of the Year:
Allyson O’Herron, Lexi Roach
Lady Knight Award: Lexi Roach
Captains: Allyson O’Herron, Lanie Callaghan
NiB-12 All Conference:
Paige Kuefler, Hayley Contorno, Allyson
O’Herron, Lexi Roach, Lanie Callaghan
All Conference Honorable Mention:
Sarah Grams, Ellissa Eckert
Conference MVP: Allyson O’Herron

2013 Boys Baseball Award
Mr. Kaneland Baseball: Dan Miller
MVP Offensive: Matt Limbrunner
MVP Defensive: Joe Pollastrini, Dan Miller
Most Improved Player: Tyler Bellock
NIBXII All Conference:
Matt Limbrunner, Dan Miller, Tyler Carlson
All Conference Honorable Mention:
Joshua Cohrs, Tyler Bellock

491

Baseball spiked by Spartans

Knights nab first postseason win in 2 years, but loses in regional final
KANELAND—After getting upended by DeKalb in the regional semifinal in 2012, to play for a regional plaque in 2013 was a welcome sight for Kaneland baseball.

But the sight of a regional plaque is all that can be afforded, rather than grasping it.

The Knights took a day-long break before getting to the field due to rain in the area, ultimately beating Sandwich on Friday by a final of 6-0. They followed that up with a tough 3-2 loss to St. Francis of Wheaton on Saturday morning.

Kaneland finished the season with a 13-18 record, its first losing campaign since 2006, which ended in a regional loss to Batavia at Oswego High School.

Kaneland has hosted regionals three of the last four years in Class 3A, and been bounced by Hampshire, DeKalb and now St. Francis at the home location.

Before the end of the season, Kaneland was able to tame the Interstate Eight Conference stalwart Indians and Ohio University-bound pitcher Jake Roehn on Friday.

Roehn managed to mow down 10 Knights, but the KHS lineup supported winning hurler Curtis Thorson with five second-inning runs.

Thorson, Zack Martinelli, Ty Bellock, Dan Miller and Matt Limbrunner with a triple all had run-scoring hits in the frame. Tyler Carlson’s RBI single cemented the margin in the fifth inning.

Against the top-seeded Spartans, scheduled to face Burlington Central at the Sycamore Sectional on Wednesday, Kaneland found two runs in the top of the first thanks to a Joe Komel single and a Josh Cohrs fielder’s choice.

St. Francis managed to plate three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning off losing pitcher John Hopkins, and held off Kaneland threats the rest of the way.

With the loss, Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Josh Sitterly, Kyle Pollastrini, Martinelli, Limbrunner, Bellock, Matt Kucera, Hopkins, Cohrs, Miller, Lane Davis, Blake Sowell, Austen Davis, Jake Parry, Joe Pollastrini and Nick Albano.

Photos by Patti Wilk

Senior Joe Pollastrini, leaps to grab a high throw in attempt to make an out at second base during Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Hello, old friend

KHS faces Batavia in Midwest League setting in tail-end of regular season
KANELAND—What’s one more postponement for Kaneland baseball?

In a 2013 campaign rife with cancellations, 19 to be exact, Kaneland baseball wanted to make up its non-conference contest from Friday with Batavia.

It was to get a final tune-up before Class 3A regionals start; it was for a good cause—the Caitlyn Phillips Memorial game—and it was a chance to get some innings in at the home of the Cubs’ Class A team, the Kane County Cougars.

With the match-up moved to Saturday morning, the Knights were not able to withstand the Bulldogs in a 5-3 matchup.

The game was moved in place of a contest with West Aurora.

Tuesday saw the regular season finale with visiting Wheaton-Warrenville South of the Dupage Valley Conference, in which Kaneland fell 10-2.

Kaneland finishes the regular season with a 12-17 mark, with a 7-8 record in Northern Illinois Big XII play. The tally marked the first losing season for Kaneland baseball in seven years.

Against the former Suburban Prairie Conference North division and Western Sun Conference rivals, the Knights gave up single runs in the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, with the one of the fourth breaking a 1-1 tie. Kaneland’s two-spot in the bottom of the sixth closed it within 4-3.

John Hopkins took the loss for the Knights, despite giving up just one run on two hits. Josh Sitterly went 1-for-1, while teammate Jake Parry went 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Against WWS, Kaneland fell behind early, surrendering one in the first, three in the second, and two in the third. The Knights put up a pair of runs in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide.

Kaneland prepares for the Class 3A postseason landscape, with the No. 2 seed Knights facing No. 3 Sandwich in the Kaneland Regional.

The winner of that Thursday, May 23, 4 p.m. contest faces either No. 1 St. Francis of Wheaton or No. 4 Plano (Tuesday) in the regional title game on Saturday, May 25, at 11 a.m.

The Kaneland Regional champ faces the Burlington Central Regional winner out at Sycamore next week for a sectional semifinal.

A year ago, and fresh off a 2011 State crown, Kaneland was dropped by DeKalb on May 21, 2012, in a 9-3 regional semifinal. DeKalb would go onto the Kaneland Regional final only to lose to Marmion Academy 4-1.

The 2013 Kaneland baseball seniors. Photo by Patti Wilk
The 2013 Kaneland baseball seniors.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Varsity Head Coach Brian Aversa addresses the team at the end of the game. Photo by Patti Wilk
Varsity Head Coach Brian Aversa addresses the team at the end of the game.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Joe Pollastrini leaps for a high throw in attempt to make an out at second, while John Hopkins looks on. Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Joe Pollastrini leaps for a high throw in attempt to make an out at second, while John Hopkins looks on.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Dan Miller dives back to first base during the sixth inning. Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Dan Miller dives back to first base during the sixth inning.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Josh Cohrs tags for an out at home plate , but the call was overturned.  Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Josh Cohrs tags for an out at home plate , but the call was overturned.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Kucera makes a flyball catch for an out. Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Kucera makes a flyball catch for an out.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Matt Limbrunner is ready to grab the ball for an out at first base during the third inning of Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Matt Limbrunner is ready to grab the ball for an out at first base during the third inning of Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Zack Martinelli offers a high five to Lane Davis as he arrives at home plate during the second inning of Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Zack Martinelli offers a high five to Lane Davis as he arrives at home plate during the second inning of Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Joe Pollastrini, leaps to grab a high throw in attempt to make an out at second base during Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior Joe Pollastrini, leaps to grab a high throw in attempt to make an out at second base during Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior John Hopkins readies a throw to first base during Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk
Senior John Hopkins readies a throw to first base during Kaneland’s 5-3 loss to Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
Photo by Patti Wilk
The family of Caitlyn Phillips was warmly received by Kaneland Varsity players. Photo by Patti Wilk
The family of Caitlyn Phillips was warmly received by Kaneland Varsity players.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Seniors and their parents are announced and gather on the field to be recognized at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva May 18.  Photo by Patti Wilk
Seniors and their parents are announced and gather on the field to be recognized at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva May 18.
Photo by Patti Wilk
120

Pitching, defense lead to win over Cary-Grove

Baseball beats Streator, falls to Marengo, Sycamore, in big week
KANELAND—Knights baseball may have had a rougher go of it in 2013, but that doesn’t mean the boys can’t put together a stellar performance.

Behind junior Curtis Thorson’s arm, the infield defense and a homer by Matt Limbrunner, the Knights bested the Cary-Grove Trojans in non-conference play, 4-1, on Tuesday afternoon.

Monday brought a loss to invading Marengo by a 2-0 clip, while Saturday had KHS beat crossover foe and host Streator, 2-1. Last Thursday had the host Knights drop a 12-4 loss to the Morris Redskins.

With the regular season homestretch in sight, the Knights are 12-15 (7-8 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Thorson had his best arsenal against the Trojan lineup, and even went through a two inning stretch with just nine pitches thrown. Two key double plays in the field also helped the effort.

“This gives us some momentum going into regionals,” Thorson said. “My fastball was working, and the double plays kept the pitch count low.”

Limbrunner smacked a ball that straddled the inside of the left field foul pole for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. After C-G tied the score in the fourth, a three-run fifth gave the Knights the lead once again. Nate Hopkins and Ty Bellock submitted RBI singles in the frame.

The win serves as a glimpse of what could happen if it all gets put together for KHS.

“I’d much rather have it this way,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “The double plays were a key to getting out of a lot of big innings. They turned it a few times and that was huge.”

Against Marengo, the Knights could manage just three hits in the shutout. Limbrunner went 5.2 innings on the mound for the loss, and also had a hit in the batters box.

Facing the Bulldogs on Saturday morning, the Knights saw a complete-game five-hitter from winner John Hopkins along with eight K’s. Hopkins also helped his cause with an RBI double, while Josh Cohrs also managed a two-bagger.

In the eight-run loss against Morris, Blake Sowell took the loss, and the Morris lineup broke a 5-2 game wide open with seven runs in the seventh inning.

Thorson had two RBI in the loss, while Dan Miller went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

KHS heads to Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva, home of the Class A Kane County Cougars, for a matchup with Batavia on Friday, May 17, for “Caitlyn Phillips Memorial Night”. The sophomore game starts at 4:30 p.m., with the varsity game at 7 p.m.

149

Searching for the sweet spot

KHS baseball sports 3-2 week to even NIB-12 record at 7-7
KANELAND—Seeing Morris, Rochelle and Sycamore during a week of competition can be good or bad, depending on how you handle the field action.

For the most part, KHS acclimated itself well on the local diamonds, trying to scale its way back to .500.

Kaneland (10-13, 7-7) faced off against conference foe Morris on Monday and Tuesday, but lost 4-1 and 7-6, respectively. On Saturday, the Knights battled Rochelle and won 4-2, while Thursday had Kaneland best Sycamore 4-2 before beating Rochelle in 10 innings in Ogle County 10-3.

Tuesday featured a battle at Morris, and Kaneland wasted no time taking the lead with a five-run first inning. Morris chipped away at the lead with a run in the first, two in the second, and then two each in the fourth and fifth to take a one-run lead and, ultimately, the game.

Josh Cohrs led the team in hitting with a 1-for-3 day, including his two-run double in the first.

The previous day, the same teams squared off in Maple Park. Kaneland fell in eight innings, despite the best efforts of hurler Matt Limbrunner, who went 7.2 innings with three strikeouts. He also went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Teammate Ty Bellock went 1-for-3 with a run scored.

KHS put its run on the board in the bottom of the first, before Morris tied it in the third, paving the way for the three-run eighth from the visitors.

In the 4-2 win over the Hubs during the weekend, the visiting Knights saw Blake Sowell even up his pitching record at 2-2, going six innings while fanning six. John Hopkins pitched the final inning for the save.

Kaneland put up two runs in the first, one in the fifth and one in the sixth in the victorious effort, helped along by Tyler Carlson (1-for-2, double) and Limbrunner (1-for-2, RBI).

A three-spot in the fourth inning last Thursday proved to be the winning edge the Knights needed against the visiting Spartans. The runs came after being down 2-0 after the top of the fourth, but the days of Cohrs (2-for-3, RBI), Carlson (2-for-3, RBI) and Joe Komel (1-for-3, double, 2 RBI) proved too much for Sycamore.

On the pitching end, Curtis Thorson went 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts for the win, while Komel acquired his second save of the 2013 campaign by retiring the final two batters.

In the opening game of the week against Rochelle, the Knights initially went up 3-0 , but Rochelle scored a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to tie matters.

Kaneland finally put up a seven-spot in the extra frame of the 10th inning for the win. Limbrunner and Bellock had two RBI each. Anthony Holubecki had six K’s, while Nick Stahl added four in relief for the win. Komel struck a homer for the visitors, as well.

Up ahead for Knights baseball is a home matchup with Morris on Thursday, May 9.

Lengthy layoff ends

Photos by Patti Wilk

KHS baseball team faces full conference schedule
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was familiar territory for Kaneland baseball, trying to tee off against Sycamore, DeKalb and Yorkville pitching.

The Knights had varying degrees of success as the calendar left April.

On Tuesday, Kaneland fell in a tough pitcher’s duel to Sycamore, 2-1. Monday had a home matchup with Sycamore that resulted in a 7-3 loss. On Saturday, a makeup contest with DeKalb ended in a 4-0 win and 4-1 loss in Maple Park. On Friday, Kaneland beat host Yorkville 3-2 and lost 6-3 on April 24.

Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner took the loss on the mound, pitching five innings while surrendering two runs and six hits and collecting five strikeouts. He also went 1-for-3 from the plate with a solo home run.

Against the Spartans on Monday, Blake Sowell was tagged with the loss. Down 4-0, Kaneland scored three in the sixth, but could get no closer. Limbrunner contributed an RBI.

In the positive end of the Saturday split, Kaneland put up two in the first and two in the fourth for the shortened victory. Nick Albano had an RBI, while Kevin Kassinger took the win. The loss featured Kaneland tying the game in the sixth inning off of a Limbrunner RBI, but DeKalb put up three in the top of the seventh for the win. John Hopkins took the loss in relief.

On Thursday, the Knights fell behind 6-0 before posting one in the fourth and two in the sixth. Lane Davis and Joe Komel (two RBI) supplied the run-driving capabilities, while Limbrunner took the loss.

In the April 24 loss, the Knights were plagued by four errors in the field and a difficult strike zone to manage. Tyler Carlson supplied the only hit in the top of the third, while Yorkville scored one in the second, one in the third and two in the fifth to cinch matters.

Sowell was tagged with the loss, while the Foxes’ Kyle Shimp mowed the lineup down with 12 strikeouts.

The last real opportunity to score for KHS was in the top of the fifth when Ty Bellock reached on an error and stole second, but two strikeouts and a grounder to second ended the rally.

It marked the first game after a weather-induced layoff for the Knights, but Aversa knew a bounceback was necessary.

“I wasn’t disappointed in our pitching performance at all,” Aversa said.
“Offensively, we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on, defensively same thing. There were dropped balls and a couple anomalies. We’ve got to shake some rust off.”

The Knights, with a 7-11 overall record and 4-5 mark in conference play, host Sycamore on Thursday, May 2.

KHS basbeball team faces reduced schedule

Knights down DeKalb in only completed game of week
Kaneland—The weather has proved to be the toughest opponent for the Kaneland varsity baseball team.

Following a flurry of cancellations and postponents, the Knights were finally able to take the field Tuesday for an impromptu double-header at DeKalb.

That adjusted schedule was thanks to Monday’s called game following a 30-minute wait in the hopes that Mother Nature would allow the teams to get some field time.

After Kaneland and DeKalb coaches agreed to call Monday’s game and turn Tuesday’s into a twin-bill, KHS head coach Brian Aversa commented on the impact the weather has had on his team.

“As a coach it’s frustrating,” he said. “This is (starting pitcher) Blake Sowell’s fourth or fifth game cancelled when it’s his turn in the rotation, and as a player it’s got to be really mentally tough to stay ready to go.”

Sowell warmed up in the hopes Monday’s game would go as scheduled, but had to redo his warm-up routine the following day.

“It’s one of those things where it’s difficult coming into a game and finding out its been cancelled, especially after I’ve warmed up,” Sowell said on Monday. “But its like going to school or going to work, you just have to go and do it.”

He went out and did it again, getting the start for Monday’s make-up game, moved to Tuesday and this time in DeKalb, as the first game in an intended double-header.

He pitched a complete-game gem, surrendering just one run (unearned) on three hits and three walks. He struck out seven, leading the Knights to a 3-1 victory.

Lead-off hitter Dan Miller led the Knights from the plate, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. John Hopkins and Kyle Pollastrini each went 1-for-3 with a run scored, and Josh Cohrs went 1-for-4 with an RBI to contribute to the winning effort.

The game went scoreless until the Knights knocked first in the top of the third. Hopkins started the offensive output in the third with a hard ground ball single past second. He stole second and then scored on a Josh Cohrs double to center.

Carlson helped add to the lead in the top of the fourth, drawing a lead-off walk and taking second on a Pollastrini single. He took third on a DeKalb error, and then scored on a passed ball, with Pollastrini taking third. Miller’s single to left brought Pollastrini home, and Kaneland found itself with a 3-0 lead.

Sowell and the Kaneland defense stifled DeKalb until the bottom of the sixth, when things became tight. Sowell surrendered a lead-off single in the sixth, but bounced back with two strikeouts in a row. DeKalb then scored on an error, and with a walk to the next batter, DeKalb had two runners on with two outs and the leading run at the plate.

Kaneland shut the potential rally down as Zack Martinelli snagged a fly ball to right field to close out the inning and the game’s scoring.

The second half of the twin bill made it through the end of the fourth inning before being delayed, potentially to be resumed Thursday.

Kaneland’s record currently stands at 5-6.

Casey Crosby fires a pitch from the mound in 2012 action as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens. 					     Photo courtesy of Toledo Mud Hens

Ready for more

Photo: Casey Crosby fires a pitch from the mound in 2012 action as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens. Photo courtesy of Toledo Mud Hens

First big-league start whets Crosby’s appetite
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—Casey Crosby certainly didn’t mind an unexpected change of plans late last May that got him to “The Show,” aka, the Major Leagues.

The former Kaneland High School star, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2007, was to make a scheduled start for the club’s Class AAA affiliate Toledo Mud Hens in Scranton, Pa., on a Thursday night, May 31, 2012, against the Yankees’ farm team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Crosby would then travel back to Toledo after the game on the team bus overnight and meet his wife, Haley, who was driving up from Elburn, so the couple could spend some time together since the Mud Hens had a home stand that weekend.

But that was all before Mud Hens’ manager Phil Nevin paid Crosby a visit on Wednesday. Nevin informed him that his start was being pushed back to Friday, June 1. Crosby instead would be heading north to Detroit to take the place of the injured Doug Fister in the Tigers’ rotation, and thus, be making his first Major League start.

“It was a dream come true,” said Crosby, rated the Tigers’ No. 8 prospect after the 2012 season by Baseball America. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do (since I was a kid) ever since I could talk, really. My hair stood up and heart started racing nonstop after that.”

After getting the good news, he called Haley in Elburn, where the couple makes their home, but downplayed the change of plans.

“I played it off as not a big deal,” he said, “kind of joking with her that my start was being moved back to Friday because throwing against the New York Yankees was better than throwing against Scranton.”

Crosby’s mound opponent for his first big-league start was none other than C.C. Sabathia. However, Crosby said he didn’t allow the fact that he was facing one of baseball’s premier pitchers to affect his mindset before the game.

“If you treat the game bigger than it actually is, you’re going to get eaten up,” said Crosby, who interestingly was called C.C. by his youth travel team teammates because he, like Sabathia, is left-handed and his initials are C.C. “You’re already amped up because you’re there, but you want to calm yourself down. It’s the same game you’ve played as a kid. Since I was a little kid I watched him (Sabathia) pitch.”

Nonetheless, Crosby said it was quite an experience to step onto the field at Comerica Park for his first start in front of over 41,000 fans.

“Going into the stadium onto the field, just taking it in size of stadium, the cameras, it was such an uplifting feeling to know that you made it,” he said, “and doing something that pretty much not every kid can experience when they‘re older.”

Sabathia and the Yanks unfortunately got the better of Crosby and the Tigers that night, beating Detroit, 9-4. However, Crosby was back on the bump June 7, and did pick up his first Major League victory after the Tigers edged Cleveland, 7-5. He gave up three earned runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

“It was great,” Crosby said regarding getting the “W.” “Everything from seeing the last out made to getting the game ball to getting a beer shower, it was an amazing day.”

Fister returned from the disabled list in mid-June, so Crosby went back to Toledo to finish out the season. He was 7-9 with Toledo last year, with a 4.01 ERA, giving up 112 hits in 125 2/3 innings while striking out 112.

Crosby is on the Tigers’ 40-man roster and spent spring training at the team’s facility in Lakeland, Fla. He pitched a total of seven innings. That might not seem like a lot to the casual baseball observer, but Crosby explained there were only so many innings to go around, given the sheer number of pitchers in camp.

“There’s so many guys in spring training that everyone needs to get their reps in,” he said. “It’s hard (to get more innings). Most of guys were around seven innings. They’ve got some solid veteran pitchers.”

Crosby pitched two innings during his final spring outing with the Tigers, giving up one hit and no earned runs vs. the New York Mets. Although Crosby was optioned to Toledo in mid-March shortly after facing the Mets, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland said he liked what he saw from the 24-year- old.

“He started to pitch with a little more confidence in his control,” Leyland told the Detroit Free Press. “Also had a pretty good curveball, so he’s a guy we want down there stretched out. He got his feet wet a little bit last year, got a little bit of an idea what it’s about up here. That’s a good thing.”

“They just said that I showed a lot of improvement from last spring training,” Crosby said of his conversations with those in the Detroit organization prior to him going back to Toledo. “Even though I’m getting sent down doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, that (I won’t) get back into the big leagues. If I’m a guy who’s doing well down here, I’ll get the call (back up), but I just have to keep plugging away and working.”

Crosby’s curveball was rated the best in the Tigers’ farm system by Baseball America after the 2012 season, but he also possesses a fastball that’s clocked in the mid-90s.

“The main thing they told me is keep throwing strikes and not holding back with my fastball,” Crosby said. “Let it go and throw strikes with it.”

Crosby said he’ll be on a pitch count (80 to 90 pitches per start) in Toledo until late April.

“They still project me as a starter,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to spot start a game or two (this year in Detroit).”