Category Archives: Baseball

Knights earn win against Barbs

Kaneland baseball continues to plug away in the season’s homestretch, and in the process eclipsed last season’s win total.

A 3-2 victory on Tuesday over the rival DeKalb Barbs raised Kaneland’s record to 21-10 with a 12-7 tally in the Western Sun Conference.

Righty Steve Colombe improved to 6-2 on the season and went 6.2 innings while Ty Hamer earned save No. 5 by coaxing the final out.

Mike Pritchard’s triple in the fourth inning scored Jay Levita and gave Kaneland a 1-0 edge.

Jake Fielder hit a single in the bottom of the fifth to score Joe Camaliere, and Jeff Smith came home on an error.

The Knights got some face time at Elfstrom Stadium on Monday against rival Batavia, but lost 4-2 on a late comeback by the Bulldogs.

KHS prepares to suit up against DeKalb in a contest scheduled for Northern Illinois University on Thursday, May 21, at 4 p.m.

It all leads to an IHSA Class 3A Regional showdown at Burlington Central High School against either Hampshire or Rochelle. Besides the top-seeded Knights, who would play on Wednesday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m., (2) Sycamore and (3) Burlington Central make up the rest of the regional.

Knights outslug foes, match ’08 win total

by Mike Slodki
Knights baseball dealt with conference and non-conference rivals alike the same way: by nabbing the “W.”

The varsity Knights took it to Yorkville on Thursday afternoon under drizzly-turned-to-sunny skies and made short work of it, 12-2 in five innings.

Then, the Knights beat Yorkville on Friday, 5-2, Oswego East on Saturday 9-6, and Sycamore on Tuesday, 11-9.

Kaneland improved to 19-7 with a 10-5 Western Sun Conference record.

Joe Gura earned the win and struck out four batters while giving up just two runs on four hits on Thursday. Jeff Smith ended up 2-for-3, while Joe Camaliere plated three of the Knights’ runs. Camaliere reached on a three-base error, which allowed Jake Fieldler to score for the first run in the opening inning. By the end of the second inning, the Knights enjoyed a 7-1 lead that was buoyed by a Gura homer in the second. Kaneland scored five more runs in the fourth inning to go up 12-1 before the game was finished after the top of the fifth.

On Friday, the Knights took care of Yorkville in a 5-2 game that was continued from a Thursday stoppage due to rain. Resuming action with Kaneland leading 1-0, Yorkville came back to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. The Knights scored three in the top of the sixth and Fiedler walked, later coming home on a second baseman error. Jeff Smith improved to 4-1 in the win.

Kaneland nabbed its 18th win of the season, just one off its 2008 mark, with a 9-6, come-from-behind win vs. Oswego East on Saturday.

Mike Pritchard went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a homer to left center. Jay Levita went 2-for-3 and Curtis Lubic went 2-for-2.

Lefty Troy Pritchard improved to 4-1 in a five-inning outing.

Kaneland struck first in the bottom of the second, thanks to a two-out RBI single by Lubic for a 1-0 advantage.

After Oswego East scored two in the top of the fourth inning, KHS managed to deadlock the affair on a Smith sac fly in the bottom of the inning. The Wolves took advantage of suspect fielding by the Knights to go up 5-2 after the top of the fifth, but Kaneland came back with four of its own in the bottom of the fifth.
Fiedler doubled and Camaliere walked. An errant pickoff throw put runners at first and third when Gura walked to load the bases. Mike Pritchard made it 5-4 with a two-run double and Levita gave the Knights the lead at 6-5 with a two-run single. Pritchard was up to his old tricks in the bottom of the sixth with his three-run homer in the teeth of a strong wind.

“I was just looking for my pitch with no strikes on me, and I got ahold of it,” Pritchard said.

“We didn’t really feel comfortable until the final out. We came through offensively and defensively at the end. Mike’s home run was a big lift, and he’s a leader out there,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We’re going to tighten up the screws and get some guys going here.”

On Tuesday, Fiedler’s two-run homer keyed the win, played at Road Ranger Stadium in Loves Park, home of the Frontier League’s Rockford Riverhawks.

Baseball continues the homestretch of the regular season on Thursday, May 14, at Sycamore and Friday, May 15, at Batavia.

WSC seeing last days?

In the fall of 2006, Kaneland left the ashes of the Suburban Prairie Conference and joined seven other schools in the brand-new Western Sun Conference.

Now, in the spring of 2009, the Western Sun Conference looks as if its going supernova.

In late-April, Kaneland met with 11 other schools to draw up plans for a new 12-team conference that would kick off in the fall of 2010. The administration will recommend to the Kaneland School Board at the Tuesday, May 26, meeting to exit the eight-team Western Sun Conference.

Joining the exodus of the WSC with Kaneland would be DeKalb, Rochelle, Sycamore and Yorkville.

The proposed unnamed conference would also potentially include old SPC rival Morris, which is slated to join the North Central Illinois Conference in the fall. The new conference would only have Morris as an NCIC school for one year after leaving the Southwest Prairie Conference.

NCIC schools Dixon, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Sterling and Streator, which make up the NCIC’s Reagan Division would round out the rest of the conference.

The shift would lead Western Sun rivals Batavia, Geneva and Glenbard South looking for new conference homes.

In the Western Sun Conference, KHS ranks eighth in enrollment with 1,140. Geneva’s 1,978 was first in the group.

The new conference would have Kaneland sixth out of 12. DeKalb’s 1,710 students would be at the top of the list, while Geneseo’s 914 would be at the rear.

The conference would likely use two six-team divisions, with the WSC schools pairing up with Morris for one of the divisions.

- Have your voice heard -

Kaneland Board of Education
Special Public Workshop
Monday, May 18 • 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Kaneland High School Library

District personnel will address Kaneland’s history of conference affiliations;
several reasons why a change in conferences is being considered at this time;
and, various aspects of the option being considered.
Questions and comments from the public can be heard.
The board will not consider the recommendation for conference change until Tuesday, May 26

Knights baseball earns WSC win over Yorkville

Kaneland High School baseball held off a charging Yorkville Foxes squad on Tuesday in Maple Park, but emerged with a 9-6 win.

With the victory, Kaneland baseball improved to 15-7 with a 7-5 mark in Western Sun Conference play.

The win also offsets the 6-0 loss last Wednesday, April 29 suffered at the hands of Batavia, who’s pitcher Alex Karger, threw a 1-hitter.

Knights hurler Steve Colombe improved to 4-1 on the season, while Ty Hamer earned his first save on the year.

Jake Fiedler went 2-for-4 with two runs driven in, and Jeff Smith went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

In five innings pitched, Colombe allowed six runs, but just one was earned.

Mike Pritchard’s two-run single in the first inning gave Kaneland a 2-0 lead. Smith came home on an error in centerfield in the second for a 3-0 lead, and KHS plated two more runs in the third for a 5-0 lead. Up 7-0 in the fifth inning, Yorkville sent nine men to the plate and scored six runs on just two hits to close within 7-6, but the Knights scored two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to pad the lead.

Upcoming for Kaneland: a home matchup with Yorkville on Thursday, May 7 and a Saturday battle with visiting Oswego East.

Photo: Kaneland pitcher Steve Colombe fires a strike in the first inning of the Knights’ 9-6 varsity home win against Yorkville on Tuesday. The righty improved to 4-1. Photo by John DiDonna

Crosby rides Whitecaps wave

Knights grad adjusting to pro baseball grind for Tigers’ affiliate
by Mike Slodki

If you happen to visit Fifth Third Ballpark just north of Grand Rapids, Mich., and see a 6-foot-5 blonde-haired lefthander who looks vaguely familiar, signing autographs for young fans on the concourse during a rain delay, you’re not going crazy.
crosby_front_4c

For you’ve just located what Casey Crosby is up to these days.

Now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery 17 months ago, the 2007 two-sport athlete from Kaneland High School is the No. 1 starting pitcher for the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps in the Midwest League.

Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round of the 2007 Major League Baseball draft, Crosby is 2-0 with a 2.08 earned run average after four starts, picking up his second win of the season on Sunday afternoon vs. the visiting Lansing Lugnuts.

“My first start here, my adrenalin was pumping, and the last few starts, I’ve been more relaxed,” Crosby said. “I felt comfortable in my first start because my whole family was here and it was better weather. I love pitching here; the fans back you up really well.”

The first baseball player to be drafted out of Kaneland, Crosby is now one of the many young athletes with a shot at eventually throwing to major league hitters. So far, he’s acclimating well in his current situation.

To Whitecaps play-by-play man Steve Lloyd-Jones, Crosby’s laundry list of gifts brought to the Tigers system are obvious from a broadcaster’s point of view.

“It’s obvious that it’s an overpowering arm. His velocity’s just tremendous. He hits the low-to-mid-90s on his fastball with regularity and has shown a good offspeed pitch,” Lloyd-Jones said.

Crosby, with 22 Ks, joins personnel like Mauricio Robles and Matt Hoffman, adding to a rotation capable of big things. The Whitecaps are 13-4 thus far.

“The Tigers’ whole philosophy is to draft power arms. You see it throughout their system. Now we’re on the lower end of that, but they’ve blown away most lineups,” Lloyd-Jones said.

“We’re doing real well. We’re hitting the ball. It’s just cool to see how good this team is and how much talent the organization has. It’s nice going out there knowing that your hitters will come up with a couple of runs.”

* * * * *
During Sunday’s game one of a rain makeup doubleheader, Crosby walks to the mound and gets ready for work. After allowing a single to Lansing’s leadoff man Kenny Wilson, he promptly picks him off. He gets Tyler Pastornicky to fly out to left, but walks Brian Van Kirk. Crosby then treats Yohermyn Chavez like he did any number of Western Sun Conference hitters during his 6-2, 0.88 ERA campaign in 2007 by striking him out to end the top of the first.

* * * * *
“After our games we’ve got to go right on the road. We left Fort Wayne last night and got back to Grand Rapids at 2 in the morning. You have good with bad.

There’s a lot of fun stuff about minor league baseball. I like traveling around, going to the different places, and I like the team chemistry,” said Crosby, who rooms with reliever Erik Crichton while on the road.

In the top of the second, Crosby allows a leadoff single to Mark Sobolewski, but induces Mike McDade to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

* * * * *
“Obviously, I want to stay healthy. That’s the main one. Also, I want to keep the walks down and throw less pitches and throw into the sixth or seventh inning (Crosby is on a 75-pitch count) and just go from there.”

* * * * *
An inning later, the southpaw notches his second strikeout and fans A.J. Jimenez during his first 1-2-3 inning.

* * * * *
“Any pitcher that spends time away or on the DL, it’s a time to look at your whole surroundings. Crosby did a good job of, when he wasn’t throwing, of learning still and not just shutting down. That’s one thing to carry on once you start throwing again. He’s a great listener, great competitor and he has a great arm,” pitching coach Mark Johnson said.

* * * * *
“During the game, my catcher and I talk about what the hitters did last time against me. He’ll come to settle me down if I’m not throwing a lot of strikes,” Crosby said.

* * * * *
The fourth inning proves Crosby’s roughest yet. Pastornicky walks and Crosby commits a throwing error while attempting a pickoff. The next two batters ground out, but Crosby allows a single to Sobolewski before causing McDade to fly out to right field.

* * * * *
“I think they knew that we would have a high strikeout total because we have great arms. They just want us to get the walks down,” Crosby said.

* * * * *
To cap his winning outing, Crosby retires the side by fanning Bryan Kervin. The former Knight’s day ends with five innings, one unearned run, two walks and three strikeouts.

* * * * *
His win on Sunday served as a microcosm of his pro baseball career, facing early setbacks head on and powering out of them. Lloyd-Jones has seen many arms like Crosby’s show their stuff at the West Michigan stop.

“The one guy that immediately jumps to my mind is Joel Zumaya. At this level, he was a flamethrower. I remember watching in May of ’03, he faced the Beloit Snappers with Prince Fielder, and he racked up 14 strikeouts. Casey’s been one of the more pure strikeout pitchers we’ve seen,” Lloyd-Jones said.

Crosby’s odyssey to the big leagues could have a long way to go. For now, his journey took him to a concourse signing baseballs and hurling fastballs on a Sunday in western Michigan.

Photos by Mike and Erika Slodki

Baseball runs into tough week

by Mike Slodki
Through 20 games, Knights baseball has seen more of its share of steady performances.

However, this week provided more difficulty than most.

The Knights (14-6, 6-4 Western Sun Conference) went 1-3 in a week that had them lose to Plainfield South, Rochelle and Batavia.

Kaneland’s lone win was vs. the rival Hubs.

Tuesday saw Batavia beat the visiting Knights 3-2. The Bulldogs scored one in the third, sixth and the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

Joe Gura was tagged with the loss, and went 2-for-3.

On a Saturday visit to the Plainfield South Cougars, Kaneland fell 8-3.

Ty Hamer (1-1) went six innings in the loss and strick out two batters.

Three singles in the bottom of the first led to an early 1-0 deficit. A sac fly and a double in the fourth inning sent the Knights down 3-0. Plainfield South added one more in the fifth and four in the sixth before the Knights finally crossed the plate three times in the seventh inning. Curtis Lubic had two RBI in the losing effort.

On Friday, the Knights defeated Rochelle in Maple Park by a 5-2 score, thanks to a winning effort from Troy Pritchard (3-1) and a bullpen outing by Joe Gura (fourth save).

An RBI double by Gura in the third inning tied the score at 1-1. Two more runs came home in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead.

Two more came home to pad the final margin. Hamer had two RBI on the day.

Last Wednesday vs. Rochelle, Jay Levita’s double gave Kaneland a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Rochelle scored two to knot it up in the bottom of the first inning. Rochelle then scored three runs in the top of the third. Levita’s RBI single in the top of the sixth brought it to 5-3 before Rochelle scored an insurance run in the sixth.

Jake Tickle scored on a wild pitch in the seventh to close within two runs, but KHS stranded runners at first and second when the game ended.

“We can’t make errors like we did in the field today,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “Rochelle took advantage. They hit a couple balls at us and that should have been it, but the inning would keep going. (Steve) Colombe took the loss (3-1), but I think he’ll be alright.”

The Knights travel to Batavia on Thursday, April 30.

No stopping Knights baseball

This Kaneland baseball team is on quite a run.

Four consecutive victories this past week brought coach Brian Aversa’s group to 12-3 (4-2 Western Sun Conference).

Last Wednesday, April 15, the Knights wrote off Glenbard South in a 6-5 road win. Steve Colombe improved to 3-0 while Joe Gura collected save No. 2.

On Thursday, Kaneland more than doubled up on the visiting Raiders in an 11-5 win, and lefty Jeff Smith improved to 2-1.

Friday had Ty Hamer nabbing the win (2-0) and Gura getting his third save. Curtis Lubic went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.

On Saturday, Kaneland beat the visiting Fenton Bison by a 3-0 final thanks to a dominant Troy Pritchard (2-1) and his one-hit shutout.

The Knights were scheduled to visit Rochelle on Wednesday and host the Hubs on Thursday, April 23, and Friday, April 24.

Knights have field day with a three-game win streak

by Mike Slodki
After falling behind 11-0 last Wednesday and narrowly missing a comeback win vs. Geneva, Kaneland just decided to do away with the dramatics through their next three contests.

Thursday saw Kaneland comeback at Geneva after its 12-9 loss with a 7-5 win over the rival Vikings.

Saturday saw the Knights sweep a double-header with opponent to the north Marengo, 9-0 and 10-3.

When the dust settled on the active week, Kaneland was 8-3 with a 1-2 record in Western Sun Conference play.

Falling behind 11-0 in the third inning, the Knights scored single runs in the third and fourth before coming alive with a five-run fifth. With runners at second and third, Jay Levita laced a two-run double. A fielder’s choice then brought another runner home, and Aaron Lamp hit an RBI single to close the deficit.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Joe Gura hit a two-run double to close it to 11-9, but Geneva held on and added another run.

“We did a nice job of bringing guys to the plate on the comeback, but we can’t start a ballgame in a hole like that,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We limited the strikeouts, and we were seeing the ball well when we scored the runs.”

On Thursday, Mike Pritchard hit a two-run blast with Joe Gura getting the win in relief (1-1).

Saturday had Dave Dudzinski go six innings with six strikeouts for the win. Dudzinski is now 1-0. Lamp went the distance in game two while fanning 14.

In lower class play, Sam Komel tossed a five-inning no-hitter for the sophomores, 14-1.

Knights have great road trip, fall at Geneva

Knights baseball played the part of road warriors this week.

For the most part, it was a successful venture.

The Knights sit at 5-2 in the opening part of the season, after having done a road trip through downstate Illinois and Missouri and losing to Geneva on Tuesday 5-3.

Last year’s planned spring break baseball road trip was washed out due to downpours, making the undefeated 2009 road trip a worthwhile venture.

On Thursday, Kaneland thwarted Springfield High School in five innings, 16-4. Friday saw the Knights defeat their Black Knight opponents 7-1, while the JV troops took home a 14-2 win.

On Saturday, the Knights got past St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis by a final of 8-0, while the JV team won by a 15-5 clip.

In the loss against the host Vikings under windy conditions on Tuesday afternoon, Kaneland was fanned 13 times and Viking Riley Perry earned the win (3-0). Kaneland lefty Jeff Smith took the loss to fall to 1-1.

Joe Camaliere scored on a wild pitch in the first inning to go up 1-0. Geneva later took a 2-1 lead. However in the fifth inning, Joe Gura drew a bases loaded walk to tie the score, and catcher Mike Pritchard beat out an infield hit to have Kaneland take a 3-2 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Geneva slugger Cory Hofstetter slammed a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning for the 5-3 lead which stuck.

Kaneland baseball was set to host Geneva on Wednesday at press time and travel to Geneva on Thursday, April 9.

Photo: Joe Camaliere successfully slides into home for the first run of the game during the Knights’ 5-3 loss at Geneva on Tuesday. Camaliere scored on a wild pitch. Photo by Ben Draper

Kaneland Knights baseball remembers

2-1 Knights pay tribute to friends on Opening Day, retire Malewig’s jersey
by Mike Slodki
This opening day was unlike any other, for bittersweet reasons.

There were smiles and tears throught Thursday’s contest between Kaneland and Burlington Central on the diamond, as Kaneland fans and players remembered Jeff Malewig and Blake Denton, who died in a car accident in December.

Before the contest, a moment of silence was observed, KHS coach Brian Aversa led Jeff’s father Tom out to the left field wall where a plaque with Jeff’s number 41 is now placed. The foul poles are now adorned with “BD” and “JM”.

The day’s events, capped by a large crowd in Maple Park, crystalized the relationship between Malewig and the rest of the team.

“He kept them laughing, that’s for sure,” Tom Malewig said. “They all love him. They’re playing real hard out there and from what I can see, it’ll last a while. It’s hard not to get affected by today.”

Wearing jerseys with “41” patches and red wristbands (for Malewig’s love of the St. Louis Cardinals), the Knights took care of business on Thursday against the Burlington Central Rockets by a final of 6-0. Lefty Jeff Smith pitched five innings and righty Steve Colombe finished the final two for a combined three-hitter.

On Saturday, Marmion Academy bested Kaneland in Aurora by a 5-2 final, and the Knights recovered on Monday to handle hosting Plainfield Central 7-3 in eight innings.

The 2009 Kaneland baseball squad will sport a "41" patch on their jersey sleeves and an embroidered "41" on thier caps in honor of Jeff Malewig, who was killed in a car accident last year. Malewig's jersey number 41 was retired by Kaneland in a ceremony March 26. In addition, the initials "JM" for Malewig, and "BD" for Blake Denton, who was also killed in the same accident, will be featured on the outfield foul poles.<em> Photos by Sarah Rivers</em>
The 2009 Kaneland baseball squad will sport a "41" patch on their jersey sleeves and an embroidered "41" on thier caps in honor of Jeff Malewig, who was killed in a car accident last year. Malewig's jersey number 41 was retired by Kaneland in a ceremony March 26. In addition, the initials "JM" for Malewig, and "BD" for Blake Denton, who was also killed in the same accident, will be featured on the outfield foul poles. Photos by Sarah Rivers

Against the Rockets, Joe Gura kicked things off in the bottom of the third with an RBI double and Mike Pritchard hit an RBI groundout for a 2-0 lead. Jake Fiedler smacked an RBI double in the fifth to add on to the lead.

Smith felt his outing was a good way to set the tone for the future.

“We defeated a good team today, and I thought my curveball and control were pretty good,” Smith said.

But the afternoon was about a teammate no longer there.

“We didn’t feel whole out there,” Aversa said. “It didn’t feel right. (Jeff) completed a part of us. It was great to us play with emotion and it was a special day.”

The sophomores fell to Burlington Central, 8-2.

Against the Cadets, Gura was tagged with the loss.

The Knights’ Colombe earned the win against the Wildcats, while Fiedler went 2-for-6. Pritchard went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in.

KHS hits downstate Illinois and beyond for spring break, beginning with a game at Springfield High School on Thursday, April 2, and a game in Farmington, Mo., on Friday, April 3.

Spring Sports Preview: After hard times, KHS baseball answers call for 2009 campaign

by Mike Slodki
The past 12 months have seen curveballs thrown at the players on the Kaneland High School baseball team.

Thrown by life, not by pitchers.

First, Joe Spitzzeri dealt with X-Linked lymphoproliferative disease, but found his way back to health and a spot on the team. Then in December the team dealt with the tragic death of teammate Jeff Malewig.

The events of the past year give way to a squad that is familiar with crises, but also conduct baseball matters with maturity.

Along the way, they hope to build on a good 2008, according to third-year coach Brian Aversa.

The 19-12 Knights of a year ago had a regional comeback win over host Dixon before seeing a rally fall short against Sycamore in the title game.

“The hunger is still there. You see a determination from these guys and a deep work ethic, and it’s not something they talk about, but you know it’s there,” Aversa said.

A switch from previous years is that the Knights will look to pitching to get them through games more than relying on hitting.

Coming back to the squad are senior leaders Mike Pritchard and Joe Gura, both all-Western Sun Conference members a year ago.

Pritchard looks to be behind the plate, following in the footsteps of celebrated backstops Brian Claesson and Kevin McMahon. Gura looks to fill the hole at shortstop.

Pritchard hit .377 as a junior, while Gura hit at a .400 clip, going to Aversa’s hope of good balance of senior leadership along with ability from the juniors.

On the mound for the Knights: a list that looks to include seniors Troy Pritchard, Jeff Smith, Gura and Spitzzeri. Patrolling the outfield are projected to be senior Jay Levita and sophomore Joe Camaliere. Candidates for third base include Curtis Lubic.

Other seniors looking to make a contribution are 3B/P John Rotella, OF/P Ryan Stout. Juniors are OF/P Ty Hamer, OF/P Steve Colombe, 1B/P Dave Dudzinski, IF Blake Kendrick, C Aaron Hayman, 2B/SS Jake Fiedler and OF Aaron Lamp.

Kaneland’s third-place conference mark a year ago is something that was a good benchmark and will look to carry the Knights again if the conference is anything like it was a year ago.

“Up and down, the conference will be tough again,” Aversa said. “There is no one you can overlook; Batavia, Sycamore, Geneva have a lot of guys returning that we look to do well against.”

Aversa thinks whatever lineup he dishes out will have the necessary components to do battle in the WSC and beyond.

“We’re looking for a good balance of pitching and depth on defense, and they’re ready.”

4/2/09 Note on omission
In the Elburn Herald’s baseball preview article on March 26, SS/P/2B Jake Tickle was omitted. The sports department regrets the error.

WBC has Cougar connection

Last Tuesday’s announcement of final rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic includes four former Kane County Cougars players, as well as a current field staff member.

Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera, a Cougar from the Midwest League championship team of 2001, will join Tigers teammates such as Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen in representing Venezuela. One of Cabrera’s infield partners at Elfstrom Stadium in ’01, Adrian Gonzalez will miss a portion of San Diego spring training to don the Mexican team jersey. The Dominican Republic team, one of the heavy favorites to win the tournament, will include outfielder Nelson Cruz, a Kane County alumnus from 2003. Cruz, who has reached the big leagues with Texas, will share a locker room with fellow Dominican Republic teammates Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.

Team Australia will also have Cougars ties with the selection of Brett Roneberg to their national squad. Roneberg was a member of the Cougars during the 1998 and ’99 seasons. Finally, current Cougars athletic trainer Nate Brooks will serve in the same role for the South African team. Former Cougars pitchers Scott Mitchinson (Australia) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic) were originally part of their respective country’s provisional rosters, but were not chosen for the final roster.

First-round play kicks off at several venues beginning in early March, including the Tokyo Dome from March 5-8; Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from March 7-11; and Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City from March 8-12.

The second round is at San Diego’s PETCO Park and Miami’s Dolphin Stadium, with the games being played in those venues from March 14-19.

Dodger Stadium will host the semifinals and finals from March 21-23. Japan defeated Cuba to take home the first Classic championship.

Southpaw Crosby gets press

The 2007 Kaneland grad always gets a look from Kaneland baseball faithful, but as the weather turns, the mentions are getting national.

The 2009 Sporting News Baseball Yearbook is on newstands everywhere, and Crosby, who had Tommy John surgery in November 2007 causing him to miss all but minimal instructional league time, is mentioned in the Detroit Tigers section.

Listed in the “Down on the Farm” section, Crosby is ranked fifth on the list of highly-touted Tigers prospects. The listing reads that Crosby “brings plenty of life to his 86-92-mph fastball and changes speeds well.”