Category Archives: Baseball

Kane County Cougars praised by Baseball America

GENEVA—With Major League camps opening in less than three weeks and baseball on the horizon, the Kane County Cougars organization received news on Tuesday afternoon that Baseball America has rated the Kansas City Royals farm system as the best in all of baseball in the soon-to-be-released 2011 Prospect Handbook.

The Cougars are the Class-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and announced a two-year player development contract with Kansas City last September, making for a “KC/KC” relationship and the most Midwest-centered affiliate the Cougars have held since the organization’s inception in 1991. The Cougars have held past affiliations with Baltimore, Florida and Oakland.

“The Royals have one of the deepest and most talented farm systems in recent memory,” said Jim Callis, Executive Editor at Baseball America. “It’s unusual to see a system with three stud hitters like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers, or four quality lefties like John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and Chris Dwyer, and the Royals have both. To show how highly we regard the Royals system, we ranked it No. 1 before the Zack Greinke trade, which netted more top prospects.”

Seven of the Royals’ Top 10 prospects will be in Major League Spring Training camp next month in Surprise, Ariz. The group includes first baseman Hosmer (ranked No.1), third baseman Moustakas (No.3) and left-handed pitcher Lamb (No.4).

The Cougars’ home opener is set for April 11 and tickets for all 70 regular season games, including group outings, season tickets and packages are on sale now.

Royal events planned for next weekend:
The Cougars will host a pair of events next weekend as anticipation for the 2011 season grows and the organization prepares for its first year as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Cougars will host a “Meet the Royals” event on Friday, Feb. 4, beginning at 6 p.m. inside Elfstrom Stadium’s Old Second Bank upper deck level. The event will provide fans a introduction to Kane County’s new affiliation with the Kansas City Royals, complete with a speakers series including Vance Wilson, first-year Cougars manager. Royals coaches are also expected to attend.

In addition to meeting members of the Royals family, fans can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet and complimentary draft beer. A cash bar will be available. Tickets are $30 for the general public and $25 for season ticket and ticket package holders. Fans can purchase tables of 8 for $200. Space is limited and fans are encouraged to get their tickets by visiting or by calling the Cougars at (630) 232-8811.

French goes Under for baseball

KANELAND—On Sept. 21, Drew French, a varsity baseball player at Kaneland High School, made an Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tournament Team in Oak Creek, Wis., after trying out at Milwaukee Technical Institute College.

French is playing on their team that goes to the Arizona Fall Invitational, Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 6-10, in Peoria, Ariz., which is the spring training home of the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres.

French will play third base and also pitch. Besides playing for Kaneland baseball’s Brian Aversa, Drew also plays for Coach Tom Siebert with Team Illinois Baseball.

The Under Armour Baseball Factory sees 10,000 baseball players from around the country each year.

KHS summer baseball includes no-hitter by Van Bogaert

KANELAND—On the surface, Kaneland High School’s summer league baseball squad is moving right along at 16-11, with postseason action in the area ready to heat up.

Look deeper, and you’ll see a young team working on its craft and even a great thing or two.

Case in point: a no-hitter thrown by KHS pitcher Bryan Van Bogaert on Tuesday in Maple Park against the Class 3A runner-ups DeKalb.

Van Bogaert threw a six-inning no-hitter against the visiting Barbs, winning 7-0, and would have a perfect game under his belt if not for two hit batsmen.

In game two of the doubleheader, Drew French went four innings in a 5-1 win.

On Monday in Yorkville, Kaneland tamed the Foxes and held off a late-inning rally in an 8-7 win in game one. The Knights were up 6-0 in the second inning of game two before the rains came.

Eric Eichelberger, Jordan Jones and Brian Maras pitched against the Foxes.

So far, it’s been a valuable chance for KHS coach Brian Aversa to see what lies ahead in the spring of 2011.

“We’ve played decent ball,” Aversa said. “We’re seeing which guys are on the radar and seeing how our pitching and defense is working out, and it’s going alright so far.”

On Monday, July 19, at Kaneland, the Knights will host West Aurora in the second round of the IHSBCA St. Charles East Regional. The winner will play either St. Charles East, Marengo or Woodstock North at a later date.

“We’ve got a lot of youth right now, and we’ll see how it unfolds,” Aversa said.

Photo: Kaneland pitcher Eric Eichelberger deals toward the plate during an 8-7 win at Yorkville during Summer League play on Monday evening. Photo by Ben Draper

All-WSC, team awards handed out at KHS

KANELAND—Kaneland High School dished out end of the year and spring speason sports awards last week.

In Knights boys track and field, Logan Markuson was named the Track MVP, while Nick Sinon, state champ in high jump, was named Field MVP. Edgar Valle, also a state champ as part of the 4×400 relay , was named recipient of the Drendel Award. Markuson, Derek Bus, Joe Levita, Brett Ketza, Justin Choate and Sinon were recognized as captains. Andrew Essex was named winner of the Ron Probst Award. Sinon, Markuson, Taylor Andrews, Valle, Bus, Matt Reusche, Matt Spitzzeri, Sean Paulick, Tommy Whittaker, Dominic Furco, Trevor Holm and Levita were recognized as the final Kaneland representatives for the all-Western Sun Conference team.

Brandon Cottier, Essex, Curtis Secrest, Whittaker, Spitzzeri, Valle, Bus, Taylor Andrews, Markuson, Levita, Holm and Sinon were all lauded for their trip to the Class 2A State Finals in Charleston, Ill.

For girls track, Lisa Roberson and Andie Strang, both State-goers, were named co-Track MVP’s, while Brooke Patterson, fresh off a trip to Charleston, was named field MVP.

Mel Mazuc and Nicole Ketza were part of a group of three named most improved field athletes, along with Briana Stark in long jump. Hurdler Hillary Luse took the most improved track athlete award.

Roberson and Sydney Bilotta were recognized as captains, while Patterson, Ashley Castellanos and Gabby Aguirre were honored for their All-Western Sun Conference performances.

Strang (800 meter run, 4x800m relay), Roberson and Kris Bowen (4x800m), Sara Wallace (pole vault), Jessica Stouffer (4x800m), Patterson (pole vault, triple jump) and Castellanos (long jump) were lauded for their State trip.

For the 20-win softball team, first-year coach Brian Willis gave most outstanding defensive player to Jordan Hester and most outstanding offensive player to Andrea Dimmig-Potts. Samantha Hansen took home the most improved player award, Kristen Stralka and Brittany Davis got in on the Lady Knight Award, while 13-win pitcher Delani Vest was given the most outstanding player award.

In the freshman softball ranks, Elizabeth Eckert and Sarah Grams took the co-MVP honors, while Danielle McCormack won the Kaneland Knight award.

For baseball, Dave Dudzinski and Bobby Thorson were named recipients of the Mr. Kaneland Baseball award.

Jake Tickle, he of the 19-game hit streak during the season, was named offensive MVP, and Steve Colombe was crowned defensive MVP.

The 41 Award, in honor or Jeff Malewig, was given to Tickle and Jake Fiedler.

Thorson, Fiedler, Colombe and Tickle were all recognized for their All-Western Sun Conference honors.

For the 15-win girls soccer team’s history- making season, Megan Gil, Haley Johnson, Shelby Koester, Colleen Gebauer and Emily Heimerdinger were lauded for their captain-ship.

Amy Fabrizius was given the most improved player honor, and freshman goalkeeper Jordan Ginther was named Rookie of the Year.

Sophie Blank, Andie Bruce and Natalie Swieca won the coach’s award. Gebauer and Katie Taylor were co-winners of the Lady Knights Award, while Heimerdinger and Gil took the MVP honors.

For the final awards of the night, the female Birkette award was given to Roberson. Markuson and Bus took home the male Birkette award.

Markuson was honored with the Male Athlete of the Year award, while Roberson was given the Female Athlete of the Year award.

Levita, for his time in cross country, wrestling and track, was honored for his three-sport commitment.

Photo: Lisa Roberson, shown here in relay action in Charleston, Ill., two weeks ago, was awarded Female Athlete of the Year and Female Birkette Award winner at last week’s 2010 Senior Athletic Banquet Awards. File Photo

KHS falls to Hampshire in season-ender

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In Monday’s regional opener play-in game against fifth-seeded Hampshire, the fourth-seeded Knights were bombarded by opposing offense and failed fundamentals.

The Whip-purs put up four runs in the first inning and four runs in the seventh to clinch a 10-6 win, ending the Knights season at 23-13 (14-7 Western Sun Conference) in hot late-spring conditions. KHS committed five errors in the loss. Hampshire improved to 16-17.

The final win total did tie last year’s all-time mark for season wins, however.

Meanwhile, Hampshire was set to take on top-seeded Burlington Central on Wednesday, with the winner facing either Prairie Ridge or Crystal Lake Central in the Hampshire Regional title game on Saturday, May 29, at 1 p.m.

The Whip-purs jumped on starting pitcher Ty Hamer for four runs in the top of the first, but the Knights came back with two in the bottom of the inning, thanks to RBI singles by Dave Dudzinski and Jake Tickle.

Hampshire put up one in the top of the second for a 5-2 lead and chased Hamer after 1.1 innings (7 H, 5 R).

Dudzinski launched a longball to right field in the bottom of the third to close within 5-3, but Hampshire added one in the sixth and four in the seventh off of Tickle to go up 10-3.

In a last-ditch effort, KHS had runners at first and third with three runs already in. Catcher Aaron Hayman, who subbed for an injured Tyler Callaghan, grounded to short to end the game.

“I think these guys had our number today,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. “Hat’s off to them, and it’s too bad we can’t play two out of three.”

In the final regular season contest of the year, the Knights tied the school record for wins with their 23rd in a 4-3 win at Bartlett High School.

Sam Komel earned the win on the mound against his Upstate Eight Conference opponents with a solid 5.2-inning outing. Komel gave up three runs on three hits, while Dudzinski earned the save with 1.1 innings. Dudzinski struck out three of the five batters he faced in relief.

Komel also helped his cause at the plate with an RBI double.

Under consistently rainy skies and trying for a share of the last-ever Western Sun Conference, the Knights, who trailed DeKalb by one win, got a clutch three-run triple in the top of the seventh to buoy an 8-2 win.

Winning pitcher Steve Colombe went 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits in a winning effort, while Jake Tickle struck out three in 1.2 innings of work for his first save of the year.

Dudzinski singled home Joe Camaliere for the first run of the game, while a pitcher’s throwing error allowed Callaghan to reach base and score Dudzinski and Bobby Thorson for a 3-0 edge.

Camaliere doubled home Jake Fiedler to go up 4-1 in the top of the second. The score remained that way until the bottom of the sixth, when the host Barbs scored once.

After the bases were loaded in the top of the seventh on two walks and a hit batsmen, Landers laced a triple that cleared the bases and gave KHS breathing room.

On May 19, at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva, Kaneland surrendered four runs to the Barbs in a less-than-stellar fifth inning enroute to a 5-2 loss under the lights. Colombe went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI, while Hamer was tagged with the loss.

With the conclusion of the season, Kaneland varsity baseball says goodbye to seniors Hamer, Hayman, Tickle, Dudzinski, Colombe and Fiedler.

“Dudzinski came in from basketball again, and we loved his contributions all year. Tickle had the 19-game hit streak; all the seniors had a really good season stepping up,” Aversa said.

Photo: Jake Tickle fires toward the plate in the fourth inning of Kaneland’s 10-6 regional opener loss to Hampshire on Monday. Photo by Mike Slodki

KHS baseball keeps hitting at 21 wins

KANELAND—Kaneland baseball hit the 20-win mark once again and found itself with a chance at Western Sun Conference-glory if things tumble in the right direction.

At 21-11 (13-6 WSC), the Knights split a doubleheader with Sycamore on Saturday afternoon in Maple Park and beat Sycamore on Friday by a 5-2 final.

They followed the weekend’s action with a convincing 9-1 win in DeKalb on Tuesday afternoon.

Kaneland is now in a first-place tie with Geneva in conference play.

In game one of the doubleheader, an 8-7 win, Jake Tickle improved to 8-0, pitching 2.2 innings of relief, and Bobby Thorson nabbed the save.

Thorson also produced at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Jake Fiedler doubled and drove in three runs for the Knights.

Up 4-2 after three innings, Sycamore took a 5-4 lead in the fourth, before KHS scord two in the bottom of the inning. Kaneland led 7-5 in the sixth when the Spartans scored twice to tie matters, before the Knights put up one in the bottom of the sixth.

In the 6-4 game two loss, Sam Komel, in 5.1 innings, gave up six runs and struck out seven.

Joe Camaliere went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI while Thorson went 3-for-4 with a double and run driven in.

On Friday, Kaneland scored two in the first, two in the second and one in the third, before allowing two Spartan runs in the bottom of the third. Illini-bound Ty Hamer went the distance and improved to 5-2.

Fiedler went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored.

Against the Barbs, Thorson improved to 4-2 with a complete game two-hitter, while Thorson, Tickle and Tyler Callaghan all went 3-for-4.

The Knights travel to DeKalb on Thursday, May 20.

Knight sluggers split week with Yorkville, beat OEHS

KANELAND—It looks like the Kaneland baseball roster has no problem scoring runs.
Now, all that’s left is making sure that always translates to wins.

Using a penchant for extra-base hits, the Knights went to Oswego East on Saturday and defeated the Wolves 11-6. That was on the heels of an 11-5 win at Yorkville on Thursday.

The week began with a 14-12 loss to those same Foxes at KHS on May 5.

The Knights now stand at 18-10, with a 10-5 record in the final season of Western Sun Conference play.

The Knights used the strength of an eight-spot in the top of the second inning on Saturday, and the steady arm of Sam Komel (3-2). Komel went six innings and allowed five earned runs on six hits, while striking out four.

Jake Tickle went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, while Bobby Thorson went 3-for-4 with four runs scored, a HR and 3 RBI.

Kaneland was faced with a 2-0 deficit on Thursday but scored one in the third, three in the fourth and five in the fifth to fuel the victory over Yorkville. Steve Colombe improved to 4-3 while giving up five runs in the complete game.

Cory Landers of Kaneland went 4-for-4 with a double, HR and 3 RBI. Teammate Tyler Callaghan went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI.

In the loss against Yorkville, the Knights found themselves down 9-1 in the bottom of the third before scoring four to make it 9-5. After Yorkvile made it 11-5, Kaneland came back to make it 11-10 after four but could get no closer.

Tickle went 2-for-3 with a HR, and Thorson doubled and homered with four RBI.

On the horizon for the Knights is a matchup with Sycamore at Kishwaukee Junior College in Malta on Thursday, May 13, and a battle in Maple Park against those same Spartans on Friday, May 14.

Baseball improves to 16-9

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland High School baseball isn’t in the habit of nice and easy wins, but they’re garnering wins nonetheless against their WSC brethren.

Knight baseball gave its fans some free diamond action on April 28 in Batavia, as it needed 10 innings to take care of the host Bulldogs, 7-4.

Kaneland scored one in the seventh to help send the game to extras before putting up a 3-spot in the 10th.

Jake Tickle pitched the final three for the win, allowing one run on two hits. Tickle also went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Bobby Thorson went 2-for-5 with two RBI.

Kaneland swept the Bulldogs with a 7-2 win on Thursday. Steve Colombe had a complete-game outing (3-3) and fanned five in the win.

Joe Camaliere had a 2-for-3 afternoon with a double and RBI.

Jake Tickle’s RBI single led to extending his hit streak to 18 games.

Against the host Foxes on Tuesday, Kaneland put up eight runs in the first two innings, but saw YHS storm back to tie it with five in the third and three in the fifth. KHS then manufactured a run in the seventh for a 9-8 win.

“I like the way we came out ready to go,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “But we can’t sit back and give up eight runs like we did.”

Tickle improved to 7-0 pitching the final two innings in relief, finding a way to contribute even with his 18-game hit streak coming to an end.

“That’s why Jake’s so valuable, because he’s so versatile. He can come in after being DH and get the win for us,” Aversa said.

“We were just pumped that we got that run in the seventh, and we knew we had to get down to business,” Tickle said.

The Knights take on the host Foxes on Thursday, May 6, at 4:30 p.m., and visit Oswego East High School on Saturday, May 8, at 10 a.m.

KHS Knights play Batmen, put up 11 runs vs. Batavia

KANELAND—After a bump in the road, Knights baseball broke out the bats to get it on the right track once again.

Kaneland (13-9, 6-4 Western Sun Conference) trounced visiting Batavia on Tuesday in six innings, 11-1.

The Knights lost 6-5 on Saturday afternoon to visiting Westminster Christian High School of Elgin by a 6-5 result. The setback ended Kaneland’s five-game winning streak.

The Knights amassed 59 runs during the streak.

After allowing a first-inning run to the Bulldogs, KHS scored one in the second, three in the fifth and seven in the sixth, capped by a Dave Dudzinski (7 RBI) walk-off grand slam.

With a single, Jake Tickle increased his hitting streak to 16 games.

Against WC, KHS was up 5-0 after the second inning, but six runs in the top of the fourth, with five scoring off of errors, spelled doom for the Knights.

Sam Komel took the loss on Saturday, despite giving up only one earned run. Komel (2-2) struck out eight batters on the afternoon.

Dudzinski went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Bobby Thorson went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI.

Kaneland pounded Rochelle on Thursday by a 12-5 score. Steve Colombe, with six innings on the mound, improved to 2-2 and struck out five Hubs.

Bobby Thorson went 2-for-4 with a double and three runs scored and 2 RBI.

Catcher Tyler Callaghan went 4-for-5 with a home run and 4 RBI.

Kaneland scored five runs in the first, three in the second and three in the third to hold the host Hubs at bay.

Rochelle, with seven errors in the field, tallied 16 miscues on the three-game series.

On April 21, Kaneland hosted Rochelle and won 10-3. Thorson went the distance and struck out nine while scattering four hits.

Dudzinski went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a HR, while Callaghan went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Kaneland scored three in the first and three in the sixth to support the winning effort.

Knights come back vs. Hampshire, solve Rochelle

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Knights baseball won any which way it could in a week that saw three of four games in the “W” column.

April 14 had Kaneland produce one hit in a 1-0 loss in Maple Park, but followed that up with an 11-4 win in Glen Ellyn against those same Raiders.

On Saturday, the Knights came back from a 10-1 deficit in the second inning against visiting Hampshire to pull off a 16-15 thriller, and Tuesday saw the Knights hammer the host Rochelle Hubs 10-1.

KHS is now 10-8 and 3-4 in Western Sun Conference play.

Bobby Thorson earned the loss against GS in a complete-game effort with four K’s. The lone Knights hit was Jake Tickle’s double.

Tickle showed his worth on the mound on Thursday and improved to 4-0, thanks to a nine-K outing. KHS, powered by three runs in the third and four in the fourth, got a homer by Tickle and three RBI, while Drew French went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI.

In the comeback against the Whip-purs, Sam Komel earned the win with 4.2 innings of relief (2-0), while striking out eight.

Down 10-1 after two, KHS came back with seven in the third. After Hampshire scored five in the top of the sixth, Kaneland scored eight in the bottom of the frame to secure the wild victory.

Dave Dudzinski went 2-for-4 with a homer and five RBI. Ty Hamer went 2-for-3 with a run scored, two doubles and RBI, while Komel also helped his cause at the plate with a 2-for-3 morning with a double and two RBI.

Hamer mowed down the Hubs on Tuesday. Plagued by eight errors in the field, the Hubs were also mired by Hamer’s (2-2) masterful pitching, which saw 6 K’s in seven innings.

“I really wanted to establish my fastball early and then keep them off guard with a good curveball; I thought the curveball was getting in the zone well,” Hamer said.

Kyle Davidson hit a two-run HR in a three-run third inning, and Tyler Callaghan went yard for a two-run shot in a three-run sixth.

The Knights visit Rochelle again on Thursday, April 22.

Callaghan HR caps comeback at Geneva

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Looks like Kaneland’s plan on the drawing board worked to perfection in order to stop a losing streak to Geneva.

Use a Tyler Callaghan two-run homer in the top of the seventh in order to come back from a 6-1 deficit, and put out a rally in the last of the inning, thanks to a gutsy mound performance by Steve Colombe.

All in a day’s work in an 8-6 win at Geneva on Tuesday to improve to 7-6 (1-2 Western Sun Conference). The Knights also swept host Marengo in a Saturday doubleheader, 5-4 and 12-3. The three-game win streak started after dropping a 12-11 result vs. Geneva on Thursday in Maple Park.

In the seventh inning of a 6-6 tie on Tuesday, Jake Tickle hit a one-out single. After the second out, catcher Callaghan blasted a pitch to left-center field to give KHS an 8-6 lead.

Things got dicey in the bottom of the seventh as the first two runners for Geneva reached base and slugger Michael Monaghan came up to bat. But Colombe (1-2) forced a flyout to right field and then coaxed a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Callaghan knew he had to come through in order to give Kaneland the upper hand going into the bottom of the inning.

“They like to go out there and attack with curveballs,” Callaghan said. “We’ve faced these pitchers before and I just got a good pitch to hit.”

Colombe struck out three and gave up five earned runs on nine hits for his first win of the season.

Jake Fielder went 3-for-4 with an RBI while Callaghan went 3-for-4 with three runs scored.

Down 5-0 in the third, KHS got its first run when Bobby Thorson’s groundout to first scored Ty Hamer who had lead off with a single.

Hamer hit a two-run shot in the fourth to make 6-3. Down 6-4 in the sixth, Callaghan reached on an error, and Colombe’s grounder moved him to third after a misplayed ball. Hamer walked and Fielder drove home Callaghan on a single. Joe Camaliere followed with a sac fly RBI to tie the score and set the stage for late-inning heroics.

Against the host Indians, Drew French (1-0) earned the win in game 1 with 1.2 innings of relief and three K’s. Hamer picked up the save getting the final strikeout.

Down 4-1 after four innings of the first game, Kaneland scored one in the fifth and sixth while putting up two in the seventh.

Fielder went 2-for-4 with a run, while Kyle Davidson went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.

In game two, Tickle improved to 3-0 and allowed only one run on three hits.

Dave Dudzinski went 4-for-4 with three RBI.

Down 1-0 in the second, Kaneland began a streak of five straight innings in the scoring column, including six in the third and two in the fourth.

In last week’s loss to the Vikings, Davidson went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored while Thorson went 2-for-3 with a double.

The Knights went out to a 4-0 lead after two before Geneva scored five in the third. The Knights led 6-5 in the fourth leading to the Vikings scoring three in the bottom frame to go ahead 8-6. With a three-spot in the fifth, the Knights led 9-8 before the two squads exchanged two-run innings in the sixth. The Vikings tagged Dudzinski for two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win.

Awaiting KHS is a road trip to Glenbard South on Thursday, April 15.

Photo: Shortstop Kyle Davidson does his part for a fifth-inning double play in Monday’s 8-6 win at Geneva. Photo by Mike Slodki

Crosby hits Lakeland as a Flying Tiger

Kaneland Class of 2007 member Casey Crosby will start the 2010 campaign in Class A Lakeland for the Flying Tigers in Detroit’s farm system.

The Flying Tigers, considered high-A, play at Joker Marchant Stadium, also the spring training home to the big club.

Crosby was ranked the second-best prospect in the Tigers’ system by Baseball America and the top prospect in the Sporting News’ baseball preview.

Baseball sits at 4-5; hits Ky.

KANELAND—Geneva gave Kaneland baseball a rude enough awakening at the beginning of Western Sun Conference play that made staying in Kentucky look like a better option.

Following an annual road trip during spring break, the Knights (4-5, 0-1 Western Sun Conference) were felled by Geneva on Tuesday, 23-9.

The game, originally marked for Maple Park, was switched to the Vikings’ turf due to unplayable fields at KHS.

Ty Hamer earned the loss, giving up 12 runs on 15 hits, but struck out seven in five innings.

Geneva’s Chris Hipchen had a huge day, going 4-for-4 with five runs scored and three home runs with 4 RBI. Michael Monaghan went 3-for-6 with 2 HR and 4 RBI.

For Kaneland, Dave Dudzinski went 3-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI. Tyler Callaghan went 2-for-3 with a homer and 3 RBI.

On March 31, the Knights began their trip down south and repelled Grayson County by a final of 3-2 on the strength of single runs in the first three innings.

The hosts put up a two-spot in the fourth for the remainder of the scoring.

University of Illinois-bound Hamer (1-2) went six innings on the hill and gave up just one earned run on four hits while striking out nine.

Murray State-bound Tyler Saltsman took the loss. Dudzinski nabbed the save for KHS, scattering one hit.

Knight Bobby Thorson went 2-for-3 with a walk, while Dudzinski helped his cause at the plate with a homer and two runs batted in. Jake Fiedler went 1-for-4 with a double, stolen base and run scored.

On Thursday, the Knights solved the sixth-ranked team in Kentucky, Apollo High School, by a final of 2-1. After Apollo scored one in the second, the Knights got one in the third and one in the fifth. Bobby Thorson (1-0) went the distance and struck out cleanup hitter Nick Laster with the bases loaded to end the game. Thorson fanned seven in the effort. Fielder went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while catcher Aaron Hayman went 1-for-2 with two runs scored.

On Friday against Hancock County, Kaneland fell victim to a 9-7 loss.

Down 5-0 after three innings, Kaneland scored one in the fourth before the hosts put up three in the bottom of the fifth to make it 8-1.

Kaneland scored five in the top of the sixth to make it 8-6 before the two teams exchanged single runs for the remainder of the scoring.

Outfielder Joe Camaliere scored three runs and was hit twice in the batter’s box.

Steve Colombe (0-2) surrendered five runs on four hits to get tagged with the loss.

Against McClean County on Friday, Kaneland put up three runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth to buoy their fortunes in a 10-5 win. Jake Tickle (2-0) went three innings and struck out five.

Fiedler went 2-for-4, Thorson went 2-for-3 with two runs scored along with a double, triple and 4 RBI. Teammate Dudzinski went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI.

The varsity troops try to improve their mark on Thursday, April 8, vs. Geneva and at Marengo on Saturday, April 10, with a doubleheader.

Photo: Junior Tyler Callaghan, shown in earlier action, had a homer and three RBI at Geneva on Tuesday.
File Photo

KHS baseball drops 3 of first 4

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A quarter is nice to have every once in a while, but not when it’s referring to victories in a season.

So far in the early outset, Kaneland has been plagued by big opposing offenses and not being able to drive runners home at critical points.

The initial stage of the season has led to a 1-3 record after losing at Plainfield North on March 24 in a 6-0 no-hitter, 14-3 in five innings on Thursday at Burlington Central, a 7-6 last at-bat win vs. Marmion Academy on Saturday and a 4-3 loss at Harlem on Monday.

Against host Plainfield North, the Knights surrendered one run in the first, one in the third and four in the fourth. PN’s Ben Gorgan struck out 12 batters in five innings.

Facing the Rockets, Jake Fiedler went 2-for-3 with a run, while teammate Tyler Callaghan went 1-for-2 with a double and run scored. Ty Hamer got the loss on the mound after giving up eight runs on four hits. BC scored three in the bottom of the first, but Kaneland put up one in the second and one in the third before the Rockets put up an 11-spot in the bottom of the fourth. The Knights also scored one run in the fifth.

Jake Tickle earned the win in relief against the visiting Cadets, while Callaghan went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Marmion put runs on the board first with three in the top of the second, while Kaneland came back with two in the bottom of the frame. The Knights tied the score in the bottom of the fourth with a run and scored three in the sixth for a 6-3 advantage. With Marmion tying the score with three in the top of the seventh, KHS pulled it out with one in the last of the seventh. Both teams committed three errors apiece.

Near Rockford in Machesney Park, Kaneland used its spring break to tackle the NIC-10’s Harlem Huskies. Gray of the Huskies hit a three-run homer in the first inning to put the Knights behind early. Fiedler doubled and scored on a wild pitch, but after a Joe Camaliere walk and a Bobby Thorson single, the Knights couldn’t push any more home. Harlem then came back with a run in the fourth inning to go up 4-1.

In the seventh, Kyle Davidson singled. With one out, Thorson doubled home Davidson and went to third on an error to make it 4-2. Callaghan hit an RBI single to close within one. Hamer singled to put two runners on, but the Knights could get no further.

“We left a lot of runners on base in the second and third,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We had the bases loaded in the sixth, and couldn’t score. We can’t do that.”

Despite the result and the three of four losses, Aversa is still expecting things to turn in Kaneland’s favor.

“We’re facing some good competition right now. These teams are making us work. We’ll turn it around,” he said.

Lower-class action featured the sophomores losing to Plainfield North 5-3 and beating Burlington Central 7-3, thanks to a 14 K performance by Drew Peters.

The Knights take on Owensboro High School on Thursday, April 1, as part of their three-day Kentucky road trip.

Photos: Reliever Sam Komel launches a ball in the fifth inning during Monday’s 4-3 setback at Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Ill.. Photo by Mike Slodki

KHS spring training baseball camp March 27, 30

Kaneland Knights baseball is holding a Spring Training Baseball Camp on Saturday, March 27 and Tuesday, March 30. The camp, held in the East Gym, is for anyone grades 3-8. Both Sessions are included and walk-ins are welcome.

Session I is on Saturday and goes from 8-9:30 a.m., while Session II goes from 9-10:30 a.m. for grades 3-5 and 10:30-a.m.-12 p.m. for grades 6-8.

The cost of the camp is $40, with checks payable to KHS (put baseball camp in memo). Instruction from KHS coaches and players with a camp T-shirt will be provided to all players.

Bring necessary gym clothes, shoes and a baseball glove (weather permitting). Players can bring their own equipment. Equipment will otherwise be provided.

For more information, contact Brian Aversa at KHS at (630) 365-5100 ext. 379, by e-mail at

Send check to:
KHS Baseball Camp,
Attn:Brian Aversa
47W326 Keslinger Road
Maple Park, IL 60151.

Baseball fills void with new talent

Photo: Catcher Austin Conard prepares to block Brian Evers at homeplate during last week’s baseball practice. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Kaneland High School baseball seems to raise the bar every year, and this season hopes to be no different.

Finishing a school record 23-13 a year ago, the Knights nonetheless finished with a 6-5 regional championship heartbreaker at the hands of Burlington Central.

“That regional game is kind of motivating us and pushing us this year,” fourth-year coach Brian Aversa said. “We’re going to try and top 23 wins this year.”

Gone from the ranks are players like Mike Pritchard, Joe Gura, Jeff Smith and Jay Levita.

“Guys like that are hard to replace, they were something special,” Aversa said.

With arms like Smith gone, it’s up to personnel like senior Steve Colombe to get more mound time.

Pritchard yields way to backstop Aaron Hayman, a senior.

“Aaron learned a lot from Mike and is ready for the rigors of the backstop in general,” Aversa said.

The outfield is projected to have junior Corey Landers in leftfield, and Joe Camaliere returns for his junior year in centerfield, with rightfield an open derby.

Third base will depend on the opposing pitcher, with juniors Drew French and Bobby Thorson hoping for a look, along with fellow junior infielder Sam Komel.

Kyle Davidson and Jake Tickle highlight the shortstop ranks, while Jake Fiedler mans second base.

Dave Dudzinski, Thorson and Komel will guard first base.

‘We have some pretty nice competitions going around that’ll come down to the last couple practices,” Aversa said.

Hayman and Tyler Callaghan, a junior, will see time at the catcher’s spot.

In the pitching rotation, senior Ty Hamer ( a University of Illinois signee), Thorson and Colombe hurl the ball.

“We’ll ride those guys, and they can give us a lot of innings. There’s not an ace, it’s our top three,” Aversa said. “Ty and those guys bring a presence on the mound, and it’s going to be hard getting a hit off them, and it helps the defense.”

Komel and junior Austin Conard also look to be employed in pressure situations.

Other Knights shoring up the varsity ranks are P/1B John Kintz, OF/C Josh Kuefler, P/OF Trevor Wolf, INF Brian Dixon and OF Brian Evers.

The regular season was scheduled to begin on Wednesday at Plainfield North with Western Sun Conference play beginning on Tuesday, April 5, vs. Geneva. The regular season ends at DeKalb on Thursday, May 20.

Crosby named Detroit Tigers’ top prospect

The 2010 Sporting News Baseball Preview magazine, available at newsstands everywhere, lists Kaneland High School alum Casey Crosby as the Detroit Tigers’ top prospect.

“Slowed by Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted in the fifth round in 2007 and eventually signing with the Tigers, Crosby started showing why he was so highly regarded last season,” the magazine said.

Crosby, who went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA for Class A West Michigan in 2008 was also listed as being part of a possible trade for slugger Matt Holliday, then of Oakland, last year.

Kane County Cougars tickets on sale for 2010 season

20th season of Class A baseball hits Elfstrom
GENEVA—Both single-game and group tickets are now on sale for the Kane County Cougars’ 2010 season. The organization’s annual ticket-on sale event, held Saturday morning at Elfstrom Stadium, was the formal kickoff for single-game ticket sales.

Open to all Cougars fans, the event was the first opportunity to purchase individual tickets and secure prime seats for home dates that are consistently popular among Cougars faithful. Fans were also treated to an all you-can-eat breakfast buffet inside the Cougars’ new upstairs Super Suite and were greeted at the door by Ozzie T. Cougar and Cougars staff.

Numerous fans arrived before the first ray of sunshine emerged in west suburban Chicago, including Geneva resident Jay Carroll. Carroll was officially No.1, arriving at midnight to stake his place in line. Carroll was soon joined by Hoffman Estates resident Bill Taylor at 1 a.m. Taylor and Carroll, like many fans this morning, hoped to secure their favorite seats for popular dates such as Saturday evenings, Opening Day and holiday games. Fans both young and old continued to arrive in the pre-dawn hours and throughout the morning to make Elfstrom Stadium a bustling place on a sunny November morning.

Saturday’s event was the formal ticket on-sale kickoff for the 2010 season as fans can now purchase single-game tickets for the 2010 season in a variety of options, ordering online at, by phone at (630) 232-8811 or in-person at the Cougars’ box office during normal business hours.

Season tickets and ticket packages starting at five games are also on sale. All ticket packages include popular fireworks and entertainment nights, along with a complimentary picnic held during the summer. Season ticket holders receive some great perks as well, such as exclusive picnics and access to VIP parties. A new 20-game ticket plan gives fans the ultimate choice in selecting 20 of their favorite dates, to literally customize their entire ticket package.

Group tickets are also on sale for the 2010 season—perfect for all types of groups including businesses, social organizations and family gatherings. Parties ranging from 15 to 2,000 people can reserve their block of seats or picnic area today with a deposit. Groups are encouraged to reserve their outing early as the anticipation of the ’10 season will lead to dates filling up quickly.

Picnic options include fully-catered events for groups of 35 or more while groups of 75 or more can reserve one of the Cougars’ exclusive outfield decks. Cougars staff takes care of the preparation, set-up and clean-up as picnic groups can focus on the most important part: enjoying a memorable, affordable and entertaining event from start to finish.

Groups of any size and type can also enjoy the new upstairs areas of Elfstrom Stadium in 2010, including nightly suite rentals, a Super Suite that accommodates up to 200 people and is sub-dividable for smaller groups, and outdoor rooftop patios for groups in the 75-150 person range.

Theme nights in 2010 include recognition for youth baseball and softball, business, church, scout and union groups, among others. Discounted group tickets are available in limited quantities for these groups on select dates. Groups interested in reserving their outing or obtaining more information can contact the Cougars ticket office at (630) 232-8811.

Hamer commits to U of I

Ty Hamer, a senior at Kaneland High School has verbally committed to pitch for the University of Illinois baseball program. Although the other Division I Big Ten programs of the University of Michigan and Indiana University had also expressed interest in the 6′ 4” right handed pitcher, Hamer selected the University of Illinois following his official visit to the school.

The Illinois baseball team finished this last season with a 34-20 record, placing them in fourth place in the Big Ten, and were ranked as high as 19th in the nation. At the end of the season four players were drafted into the Major League system.

Hamer was a part of theKaneland Varsity baseball team of 2009 which recorded the highest number of wins in Kaneland history.

Ty Hamer came up through the Elburn youth baseball program and the Bulls/White Sox Academy.

Crosby named Minors’ Pitcher of the Year

COMSTOCK PARK, MI—The Detroit Tigers announced Sept. 23 that left-handed pitcher Casey Crosby has been named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Crosby went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 104.2 innings pitched with the Whitecaps this season. He also put together an amazing second half, going 5-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched and was named to the Midwest League Postseason All-Star team.

This is the fourth straight season that a Whitecap has been named the Tigers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Jon Kibler won the award last season. Duane Below took home the award in 2007 and Burke Badenhop was honored in 2006.

Crosby named to postseason All-Star Team

COMSTOCK PARK, MICH.—The Midwest League announced its 2009 Postseason All-Star Team on Tuesday, and two Whitecaps, left-handed Pitcher Casey Crosby, a Kaneland High School graduate, and designated hitter Billy Nowlin, have been named to the squad.

Crosby has been stellar in his first full season of professional baseball. He’s 10-4 with a league-leading 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 104.2 innings with the Whitecaps this season. He was also named the MWL mid-season All-Star team this year.

Nowlin is batting .313 with 12 home runs and 73 RBI in 102 games with West Michigan this season. He is tied for the team lead in home runs and leads the team in RBI. He also sits second in the league in batting average.

Dee Gordon of the Great Lakes Loons took home Prospect of the Year honors and split the MVP Award with his teammate, Kyle Russell. Doug Dascenzo of Fort Wayne and Marty Pevey of Peoria were named Managers of the Year.

The Whitecaps return home Friday, August 28, to take on the Fort Wayne TinCaps at 7 p.m.

Crosby named MWL Pitcher of the Week

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich.—The Midwest League announced on July 27 that West Michigan Whitecaps’ pitcher Casey Crosby has been named Pitcher of the Week.

Crosby, a 2009 Midwest League All-Star, is 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 86.1 innings of work with the Whitecaps this season. On Monday, Crosby tossed five hitless innings against the Kane County Cougars.

Crosby is the first Whitecap since Mike Hernandez in 2006 to win the award twice in a season. Ben Guez, Bryan Pounds, Luke Putkonen, Billy Nowlin and Ronnie Bourquin have each taken home the honor earlier in the season.

Knights baseball a summer job

KHS summer roster getting cuts in league
MAPLE PARK—Infielder Jake Fiedler makes his way to base on a walk, then takes a quick opportunity to steal second out from under the nose of Aurora Christian on Tuesday.

The returning Knight baseball asset’s jersey and pants are already covered with dirt, and he pauses to dust himself off as best he can.

Yep, this is Kaneland baseball.

The Brian Aversa-led crew is getting some needed batting and pitching time as the Knights are cleat-deep into the summer league.

Tuesday featured Kaneland taking on visiting Aurora Christian under overcast-turned-to-drizzly skies and came away with a 12-0 win.

Hurler Kyle Davidson was the winning pitcher, and Jake Tickle showed power with a home run.

Aversa, even with the convincing win, feels a game like Tuesday only tells a small part of the story for these summer warriors, who are currently 14-9.

“We’ve seen great play overall from guys like Tickel and (catcher) Tyler Callaghan and guys like Aaron Hayman,” Aversa said.

While the wins are nice, Aversa stresses that they aren’t looking at the win column as the be-all, end-all in this break before student open the books again.

“We want to get guys some playing time and see what they’re able to do out there,” Aversa said.

With 10 games left in the season, the Knights are still full of pleasant developments.

“Overall, our defense has improved at a surprising pace. We look a lot better on defense,” Aversa said.

Monday, July 20, sees the start of the IHSA summer league playoffs against teams in the area.

Meanwhile, the regular season continues with a matchup against West Aurora on Thursday, July 9, at 5 p.m.

The Knights then travel to a tournament at Northern Illinois University set for Saturday, July 11.

Monday, July 13, is a clash with host St. Charles North, while the regular season ends on Thursday, July 16, vs. Batavia.

PHOTO: Knight Kyle Davidson was all over the diamond during Tuesday’s 12-0 handling of visiting Aurora Christian. Davidson, shown here batting, was the winning pitcher in the game for Kaneland. Photo by Mike Slodki

A-Ram invades Kane Co.

Aramis Ramirez helped fuel a Midwest League record crowd as the Cubs third-baseman joined the Class A Peoria Chiefs on a minor league rehab assignment. 14,872 fans packed Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva to see Peoria beat the Kane County Cougars in a 7-1 affair on Friday.
Courtesy Photo

Crosby fans opponents, grabs MWL honors

COMSTOCK PARK, MI—Casey Crosby was dominant as the West Michigan Whitecaps’ starting pitcher as the Whitecaps trounced the Great Lakes Loons, 8-0, on Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark. The Loons were shut out for just the second time this year, and both occasions were in this four-game series. The ‘Caps took three of the four games.

Crosby was at his best on Sunday. The left-hander threw five innings of no-hit, shutout baseball against one of the best hitting teams in the Midwest League. Crosby walked one batter and struck out six. He improved his record to 6-2.

West Michigan pounded out 13 hits for its eight runs. Gustavo Nunez and Billy Nowlin led the attack with three hits apiece. Bryan Pounds had two doubles. Seven of the starting nine ‘Caps had at least one hit.

The Whitecaps broke the game open in the fourth with four runs against Loons’ starter Jon Michael Redding. Eight ‘Caps came to the plate, and the offense was helped by poor Loons defense.

Redding lasted four innings, giving up eight hits, two earned runs, no walks and three strikeouts. The loss makes his overall record 9-3.

The Midwest League announced Monday that Whitecaps’ pitcher Casey Crosby has been named Pitcher of the Week.

Crosby, a 2009 Midwest League All-Star, is 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 63.2 innings of work with the Whitecaps this season. On Sunday, Crosby tossed five hitless innings against the Great Lakes Loons.

Crosby is the Whitecaps first Pitcher of the Week this year. Billy Nowlin and Ronnie Bourquin were named Player of the Week earlier in the season.

Cougars claim first-half crown

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars, officially at the halfway point of the 2009 regular season, will be heading to the Midwest League playoffs this September as the Western Division’s first half champion. Sunday’s 6-0 blanking of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Elfstrom Stadium punctuated the Cougars’ strong first half play as the team went 41-29 through the season’s first 70 games.

Kane County is postseason-bound for the 11th time in 19 years and the fifth time in seven seasons as an A’s affiliate. The Cougars’ first round opponent will be the Western Division second half wild card champion, and that news will likely not be solidified until late August or early September as the season’s second half winds down.

Team statistics reflect how strong of a first half the Cougars, led by manager Steve Scarsone, put together. Kane County slugged the most home runs in the league (57) while allowing the second-fewest long balls (34). Cougars pitchers also yielded 526 hits, the fewest in the league. Three Cougars are on pace for 10 or more wins in 2009, including Pedro Figueroa (7-2, 3.69), Chicago native Kenny Smalley (6-3, 2.26) and Shawn Haviland (5-3, 3.66), who pitched six strong innings in yesterday’s division-clinching victory on Father’s Day. Pitchers such as Figueroa, Smalley and Haviland have been routinely setting the table for closer Mickey Storey, who has nine saves and a 0.52 ERA while allowing only one earned run to cross home plate this season.

Offensively, the Cougars boast an impressive core of five players with 30+ RBIs, three players with 16 or more stolen bases, and a well-balanced lineup that includes four position players that started in the Midwest League All-Star Game in Clinton, Iowa. Outfielder Grant Desme, despite not being selected to the Western Division All-Star squad, leads the Cougars in home runs with 11 and in stolen bases with 24. Other notable offensive stars for the Cougars include first baseman Steve Kleen (team-high 46 RBI), third baseman Jason Christian (2nd best in RBI with 41), and shortstop Dusty Coleman (30 extra-base hits).

The Cougars commence the season’s second half June 25, opening a four-game set against the Quad Cities River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa. Fans can see the Cougars at home again beginning on June 30 when the club hosts the Peoria Chiefs, a Cubs affiliate for a four-game homestand that includes two patriotic fireworks shows on July 2 and 3.

Cougars host Cancer Survivors Day

GENEVA–More than 2,000 survivors and families attended the Kane County Cougars’ Cancer Survivors Day, presented by Cancer Treatment Centers of America, on Sunday afternoon. As part of Sunday’s 7-1 Cougars win over the Peoria Chiefs, survivors as well as family members and friends enjoyed a day at Elfstrom Stadium to commemorate all those who have courageously fought all types of cancer.

Fittingly enough, early morning rain showers led to clear skies before yesterday’s game as countless fans entered the stadium gates wearing purple—the universal color of all types of cancer. Various cancer treatment, prevention and counseling groups were present at the ballpark before the first pitch to take part in a pre-game victory lap parade around the field, led by Ozzie T. Cougar.

As game time approached, Cougars players and staff stepped onto the field for a pre-game autograph session wearing special purple jerseys to pay tribute to those in attendance, and fans responded with a standing ovation to signify the poignant moment.

Shortly after, the Cougars welcomed Dr. Edgar Staren, Chief Medical Officer from CTCA and cancer survivor himself, as well as David Blain on the field to each throw a ceremonial first pitch. Blain, representing all cancer survivors, was diagnosed with prostate cancer on his birthday in 2006.The purple-clad Cougars certainly got a boost from wearing the new jerseys as the team stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning before settling for the 7-1 victory. Cancer survivors and their families were then invited down onto the field immediately following the game to run the bases and put the finishing touches on the afternoon.

The Cougars have also planned a Breast Cancer Awareness Day for the August 30 game, as well as a Prostate Cancer Awareness Day on Fathers Day, June 21.

Crosby named to Midwest League All-Star game

Former Knight, now 4-0, to suit up on June 23
COMSTOCK PARK, MI—The Midwest League announced today that six Whitecaps players were selected to the league’s annual All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 23 in Clinton, Iowa.

First baseman Ronnie Bourquin, second baseman Brandon Douglas along with pitchers Casey Crosby, Jared Gayhart, Mauricio Robles and Tyler Stohr were among those selected to play in the game. Bourquin was selected to start at first base.

Bourquin is batting .317 with two home runs and 29 RBI this season and has currently put together a nine-game hitting streak. Douglas is tied for fifth in the Midwest League with a .335 batting average. He has also tallied 17 RBI and seven stolen bases.

The Whitecaps boast the most pitchers on the Eastern All-Star Squad. Crosby is having a stellar season after missing most of last season with an injury. He is 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 47.2 innings of work. Robles is leading the league with 70 strikeouts. He is 4-3 with a 3.91 ERA.

Gayhart and Stohr have been anchoring the Whitecaps bullpen this season. Gayhart is 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA. Earlier this season he fired 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings. Stohr leads the team with seven saves and has put together a 2-1 record with a 2.13 ERA.

Both the Whitecaps and the Great Lakes Loons lead the Eastern All-Star team with six representatives each.

Individual and group tickets are on sale and can be purchased at the West Michigan Glass Block Ticket Office at Fifth Third Ballpark, by calling the Whitecaps front office at (616) 784-4131 or by visiting

Baseball sees season end at Rockets home

by Mike Slodki
Monday’s Class 3A regional championship showed Kaneland and Burlington Central’s affinity for the long ball.

It was the Rockets who had slightly more of it.

Three costly homers by BC sent Kaneland baseball home for the season in a 6-5 defeat. The loss in windswept conditions ends the memorable season for the Knights at 23-13.

In a season that was accented by the loss of beloved teammate Jeff Malewig in December, the 2009 season is one that won’t soon be forgotten.

“The way we started with all the emotion, we started with these guys and won 23 games, a school record,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “This team is pretty special.”

For the Knights, it’s the third straight season of being ousted in the regional championship.

In 2007, eventual 2A State champ Neuqua Valley beat Kaneland, 4-1. 2008 had Sycamore oust Kaneland 6-5 in Dixon.

In the bottom of the first inning, Knight Jay Levita hit a home run to right centerfield for a 1-0 edge.

In the top of the third inning, Tanner Scott of the Rockets blasted a two-run shot for a 2-1 lead.

The bottom of the third had Jeff Smith reach on a bunt and Jake Fiedler hit a double to put two runners on. Smith scored on a passed ball to tie the game, and Fiedler came home on a fielder’s choice put in play by Joe Gura to take a 3-2 lead.

BC battled back in the fourth when Bill Rodriguez hit a homer to tie the score. Things got bad for KHS when Austin Jarvis hit a homer off Steve Colombe in the top of the fifth to take a 6-3 lead.

The bottom of the fifth saw life from the Knights when Levita hit a two-run shot to close within 6-5.

Ty Hamer shut the Rockets down in the top of the seventh. With one out, Gura drew a walk, but catcher Mike Pritchard grounded into a double play to end the game.

BC’s Nick Hahn earned the win.

On May 27, Kaneland ousted Western Sun Conference rival Rochelle 10-0 in five innings.

Smith gave up just one hit in his complete game effort. Dave Dudzinski’s second-inning homer, Joe Camaliere’s fourth-inning shot and Pritchard’s fifth-inning blast were plenty for the Knights to coast.

The Knights now say goodbye to a cache of seniors: John Rotella, Joe Spitzzeri, Curtis Lubic, Mike and Troy Pritchard, Levita, Ryan Stout, Gura and Smith.

Photo: Tyler Callaghan slides home safely to end the Knights’ 10-0, five-inning win against Rochelle on May 27. Photo by Mike Slodki

Knights get win No. 22, pound DeKalb

Now that the regular season is done, the stage can set itself for the regionals and beyond.

Looks like the Kaneland baseball team, at 22-12, wants the production to go on for quite awhile.

The Knights, who ended the Western Sun Conference slate with a 13-8 mark, lost their regular season finale to DuPage Valley Conference stalwart Wheaton-Warrenville South on Memorial Day, 9-6.

They closed out the conference side of the schedule with a split against DeKalb, a 14-3, five-inning shellacking at Northern Illinois University and a 5-4 loss to the Barbs on May 20.

Joe Gura went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Mike Pritchard went 2-for-4.

The game was tied at 4-4 until WWS scored one in the third and two more in the fourth to go up 7-4. Gura’s homerun in the seventh was too little, too late. Troy Pritchard fell to 5-3 with the loss.

At the home of the Huskies, Pritchard earned the win, giving up two runs on three hits.

Gura slammed a homerun in the third. Jake Fiedler went 2-for-3. The Knights erupted for five runs in the first, five in the second and four in the third.

Kaneland scored two runs in the third to tie the score at three before DHS came back with a run in the bottom of the inning and never gave up the lead.

Kaneland was set to visit the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional and face off against Rochelle on Wednesday. The Hubs upset Hampshire 5-4 on Monday.

Leveling the playing field

by Lynn Meredith
To put Kaneland on a more equal playing field, the district is considering becoming part of a new conference.

At an informational meeting open to the public where two community members, one student, and 20 coaches attended, the School Board heard a presentation on the reasons for switching from the Western Sun Conference to a newly formed conference with schools as far away as Dixon.

“With the new conference proposal we will still be able to compete against schools of our size and IHSA classification on our area,” Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.

The schools in the farther-reaching districts have enrollments closer in size to Kaneland’s, so presumably Kaneland could win more games than it has been able to do with Geneva, Batavia and Glenbard South, in its current conference.

“It’s in our best interests for what we have. It’s good that every school’s the same size,” head girls cross country coach Doug Ecker said. “The conference will give good competition and Kaneland kids can all compete.”

Board member Cheryl Krauspe had questions about the cost of the switch.

“Here’s the question that I continue to ask—how much is it going to cost? It will cost more to drive to Geneseo than it does to Geneva, and you know transportation is the one area where the state reimbursements are not coming in,” Krauspe said.

Financial implications will be discussed further at the regular board meeting Tuesday, May 26.

Enrollment comparison

Division #1 (new) Ottawa 1,602, LaSalle-Peru 1,280, Streator 1,030, Sterling 1,033, Dixon 969, Geneseo 914

Division #2 (new) DeKalb 1,710, Yorkville 1,295, Sycamore 1,162, Rochelle 1,116, Morris 1,075, Kaneland 1,040

WSC Geneva 1,978, Batavia 1,858, DeKalb 1,710, Glenbard South 1,421, Yorkville 1,295, Sycamore 1,162, Rochelle 1,116, Kaneland 1,040

Travel comparison from Kaneland

Proposed conference (miles) DeKalb 14, Sycamore 16.4, Yorkville 18.6, Rochelle 32.9, Morris 38.8, Ottawa 51.2, Dixon 55, Streator 67.1, Sterling 68.5, LaSalle-Peru 71.4, Geneseo 112

WSC (miles) Geneva 11.3, Batavia 12.2, DeKalb 14, Sycamore 16.4, Yorkville 18.6, Glenbard South 27.5, Rochelle 32.9