MIKE KORNACKER, St. Laurence, P, Jr.
St. Laurence’s Mike Kornacker earned The Regional News-The Reporter 2013 Player of the Year honors for his all-around efforts on the diamond. The junior hurler was 7-1 with a 0.97 ERA, while batting .421 with 39 runs scored and 37 RBI. Photo by Jason Maholy
• In his third varsity season, Kornacker provided a 28-win Vikings squad with the area’s best season-long individual performance from a combined pitching and hitting standpoint. On the hill, he went 7-1 with a minuscule 0.97 earned-run average and 51 strikeouts over 50 1/3 innings. He issued just nine free passes. Those stats would have been good enough to earn Kornacker a spot on the all-area team, but what elevated him to Player of the Year status were the offensive numbers that complemented his mound ones. Kornacker paced St. Laurence in average (.421) and hits (45), with 18 of the extra-base variety included among the latter total. He posted respective slugging and on-base percentages of .701 and .500, scored 39 runs, drove in 37 more, drew 19 walks and stole 15 bases in 16 attempts. Opposing pitchers fanned Kornacker just nine times in 107 official at-bats.
KEVIN BIONDIC, Brother Rice, 3B, Jr.
• The All-Chicago Catholic League pick was No. 1 among Crusaders in several offensive categories this past season, including average (.413), slugging percentage (.606), on-base percentage (.496), hits (43), RBI (36) and doubles (14). Biondic was second in runs (22), slugged a couple homers and had 63 total bases. Thirteen times he got aboard via a free pass. Biondic was also razor sharp on defense, where he committed only three errors in 71 chances and amassed an impressive .958 fielding percentage.
CODY BOHANEK, Marist, DH, Sr.
• One of only two athletes making a second straight appearance on the all-area first team, Bohanek was unquestionably the RedHawks’ most dangerous weapon in 2013. While Marist’s overall performance was often spotty and it couldn’t duplicate its magnificent postseason run of the year before, Bohanek rose above any prevailing mediocrity to supply the RedHawks with a .410 average, .533 slugging percentage, .466 on-base percentage, 43 hits, 28 RBI and 22 runs. He totaled 90 hits over the past two seasons while fanning just 21 times in 230 at-bats. For good measure, Bohanek swiped 10 bases as a senior and fielded at a .917 clip.
COREY BULTHUIS, Chicago Christian, 1B, Sr.
• Bulthuis, an all-area selection in basketball for the 2012-13 campaign, followed up that exhibition with an equally strong one on the diamond. He topped the Knights in batting with a .369 average, which was built off 35 hits, and also led the club in on-base percentage (.553), walks (33) and steals (16). Other notable numbers included 38 runs scored and a .489 slugging percentage. But Bulthuis’ impact on Chicago Christian baseball went beyond offense — as the Knights’ closer, he established a single-season school record by registering nine saves. He won one game as well and was quite stingy to foes, who coaxed only nine bases-on-balls and hit a meager .177 against him. Bulthuis, who’ll attend Trinity Christian College in the fall, struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings and compiled a respectable 2.38 ERA.
AUSTIN CANGELOSI, Sandburg, SS, Sr.
• The son of former major-league outfielder John Cangelosi, Austin Cangelosi capped his prep career by pacing the Eagles in average (.404), slugging percentage (.737), runs (41), hits (40), homers (eight) and stolen bases (22-of-23). Set to attend Indiana University in the fall, Cangelosi pieced together hitting streaks of 14 and 10 games during the 2013 season and reached base in all 30 contests in which he appeared. Cangelosi, who was named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Area squad, totaled 22 RBI for Sandburg, recorded a .504 on-base percentage and drew 15 walks.
JEREMY DRYIER, Shepard, 2B, Sr.
• The Astros’ attack was somewhat sketchy this spring, but that certainly wasn’t reflected in Dryier’s statistics, which were good enough to make him a first-team all-area pick. Like a few other elite local players, Dryier made his presence felt in multiple ways, starting with his offensive input, where he paced Shepard in the following categories: average (.402), slugging percentage (.500), hits (41), runs (25), doubles (eight) and stolen bases (13). He had an on-base percentage of .451, knocked in 15 runs and whiffed just four times in 102 at-bats. The St. Xavier University recruit augmented his batting with a .947 fielding percentage that included a team-best 64 assists, and also served as the Astros’ No. 1 man on the hill. Although his 3-4 ledger was rather pedestrian, Dryier led Shepard in strikeouts (68 in 49 2/3 innings) and ERA (1.83) and held opponents to a .167 average.
MIKE FARNAN, Stagg, OF, Sr.
• As was the case with Shepard’s Jeremy Dryier and Marist’s Cody Bohanek, Farnan made sure enemy hurlers couldn’t completely ignore his team. He did so by leading the Chargers in every major offensive category. His team-high figures included a .455 average, .696 slugging percentage, .540 on-base percentage, 51 hits, 12 doubles, five homers, 38 runs, 26 RBI, 24 steals in 26 attempts and 19 walks. Farnan’s hit total was the third-highest one ever amassed by a Stagg player in a single season. DePauw University has shown strong interest in Farnan, who struck out only 14 times in 137 plate appearances.
ERIC HALL, Richards, OF, Sr.
• The area’s premier home-run hitter, Hall sent 11 balls over the fence this spring and produced 13 other extra-base hits — including a team-high 12 doubles -- as part of a 55-hit senior campaign on behalf of the Bulldogs. His hit total, .745 slugging percentage, 40 RBI and 35 runs all ranked No. 1 among Richards players. Hall, an All-South Suburban Conference Red selection and University of Dubuque (Iowa) recruit, finished with a .401 average, .443 on-base percentage and .909 fielding percentage.
BOB KAMETAS, Oak Lawn, P, Sr.
• Kametas became the first Spartan ever chosen as the South Suburban Conference Red Player of the Year after leading the Spartans to an unexpected divisional title. He was dynamic on the mound, where he went 8-1 with a 1.23 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. Opponents batted a mere .203 against him. The St. Joseph’s College recruit was no slouch with the stick, either, as evidenced by his .346 average, eight doubles, five homers and 28 RBI, the latter two stats representing team-best efforts. Kametas whiffed only seven times in 97 plate appearances.
ZACH LEWIS, St. Laurence, P, Sr.
• A very viable candidate for Player of the Year honors, Lewis concluded his two-year stay in Burbank by being an able accomplice for teammate Mike Kornacker. Like Kornacker, Lewis positively influenced the Vikings both on the mound and at the plate. As a pitcher, Lewis fired third strikes past 80 batters in 62 2/3 stanzas and posted a 1.56 ERA while going 6-3 with three saves. Offensively, the future Wabash College player led St. Laurence in doubles (14), homers (six) and RBI (40). Lewis, who was runner-up in the voting for the Chicago Catholic League’s Tony Lawless Award, finished with a .404 average, 44 hits, 23 runs, 16 walks, and respective slugging and on-base percentages of .716 and .481.
JOSH NOVAK, Chicago Christian, P, Jr.
• Novak quickly became the Knights’ pitching ace in 2013 and ended the year with a gaudy 8-2 record and 0.88 ERA. He completed four of his starts, threw three shutouts and limited opposing hitters to a .160 average against him. Novak fanned 49 batters in 56 innings and also recorded one save. He’ll enter 2014 with a 12-2 career ledger at the varsity level.
BRAD WOOD, St. Laurence, OF, Jr.
• Wood joins Marist’s Cody Bohanek as a two-time first-teamer on the all-area squad. Previously known best as the younger brother of former two-time Player of the Year Kyle Wood, Brad Wood has taken a backseat to no one during two varsity campaigns. With a heavier emphasis placed on his pitching this spring, his offensive numbers dipped a bit, but they were still plenty good — and Wood’s mound stats were outstanding. He went 7-1 with a 1.77 ERA and boasted a 3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (51-17) over 47 1/3 frames. At the plate, Wood batted .336 with 39 hits, 37 runs, 28 RBI and drew 28 walks. Ten of his hits went for extra bases, he was 17-of-20 in steals, and he constructed slugging and on-base percentages of .474 and .469, respectively.
CHARLIE ZESCHKE, Richards, C, Jr.
• In his first year as a full-time starter, Zeschke led the area with 31 walks and paced the Bulldogs with his .424 average and .589 on-base percentage. Other notable statistics included a .522 slugging percentage, 39 hits, 21 RBI and just 12 strikeouts in 129 plate appearances. Behind the dish, Zeschke was rock solid as he was guilty of only three errors in 153 chances, which translated into a .980 fielding percentage.
CHRISTIAN BOLHUIS, Chicago Christian, P, So.
• The son of Knights football coach Jim Bolhuis and Chicago Christian’s quarterback in the fall, Christian Bolhuis demonstrated that his freshman-year exploits on the varsity diamond were no fluke. After going 5-0 on the hill in 2012, Bolhuis constructed a 10-3 record this spring, which means he’s within 14 wins of matching Trent Overzet’s school standard for career victories with two seasons still to go. He struck out 70 batters in 61 innings as a sophomore while issuing only 14 free passes, and Bolhuis posted a 2.30 ERA. Opponents hit .230 against him.
DAVID CRONIN, Sandburg, 2B, Sr.
• Headed to the University of Illinois-Chicago when school resumes in August, Cronin put together a fine senior prep campaign by batting .391, which left him just 13 points shy of Austin Cangelosi’s team-best showing. Cronin recorded Sandburg’s highest on-base percentage (.534), in part because he received 22 walks and was hit by a pitch seven times. His good batting eye was further proved by his meager total of six strikeouts in 118 plate appearances. Cronin, an IHSBCA All-Area pick, had a .448 slugging percentage, 34 hits, 31 runs and 21 RBI.
MATT DUNNE, Oak Lawn, 3B, Jr.
• Dunne will be the Spartans’ pitching ace next year and was a reliable No. 2 behind Bob Kametas in 2013, despite a ledger (4-5) that appears less than imposing. More telling were some other numbers: 2.61 ERA, .215 opponents’ batting average and 39 strikeouts in 48 innings with only 14 walks. Dunne was perhaps Oak Lawn’s most versatile athlete, as he could handle three of the four infield positions if — or when — needed. At the plate, the All-South Suburban Conference Red selection hit .358, drove in 19 runs and whiffed just five times in 97 plate appearances.
TYLER FORTIER, Richards, P, Sr.
• While Bulldogs coach Brian Wujcik felt the strength of his 2013 pitching staff centered on depth instead of one headlining stopper, Fortier developed into the veteran skipper’s most reliable hurler. Fortier won all but one of his seven decisions and also saved a game, which meant he had a hand in more than one-third of Richards’ triumphs. He fanned 27 hitters in 40 innings, carried a 2.28 ERA and held foes to a cumulative average below .250.
MARCIN KRZYSIAK, Oak Lawn, DH, Sr.
• Krzysiak, who began his prep baseball career at Brother Rice, gave a glimpse of what the future held when he batted a sizzling .517 for Oak Lawn’s summer team in 2012. While he couldn’t continue on such a torrid pace, Krzysiak still led the Spartans in the spring with his .375 average. He also knocked in 17 runs while being tabbed for the All-South Suburban Conference Red squad. Krzysiak was equally dependable on defense, where he handled all but four of his 171 opportunities cleanly and racked up an impressive .977 fielding percentage.
T.J. MARIK, St. Laurence, C, Jr.
• His .297 average may have suggested a sub-par year, but Marik was a valuable member of a Vikings team that claimed both Chicago Catholic League Blue and regional championships. And he came through in the clutch, as evidenced by the fact his RBI total of 30 was the same as his number of hits. Forty percent of those hits were for extra bases, and Marik accrued slugging and on-base percentages of .475 and .385, respectively. He got aboard eight times after getting plunked by a pitch.
MARK MARTIN, Evergreen Park, SS, So.
• Martin, who garnered second-team all-area status for the second consecutive season, is called a “total package” by Mustangs coach Mark Smyth for his combination of on-field and in-the-classroom skills. His 4.14 grade-point average attests to the latter, while Martin paced Evergreen Park with a .343 average that was raised to .419 in South Suburban Conference play. Ten of his team-best 35 hits went for extra bases, and he also supplied the Mustangs with a .404 on-base percentage, 23 runs and 14 RBI. The two-time all-conference choice registered a .909 fielding percentage.
BRIAN MUSIELAK, Brother Rice, P, Jr.
• Musielak became a key figure for the Crusaders in his initial varsity season, as he led them in pitching wins with seven and batted a healthy .376. On the mound, Musielak went the distance in four of his starts, recorded 30 strikeouts and had a 3.24 ERA. He augmented his average with a .430 on-base percentage, .424 slugging percentage, 32 hits and 18 RBI, and he committed only three fielding errors in 99 chances.
ALEC NELSON, Sandburg, 1B, Sr.
• Overshadowed publicity-wise by more-heralded teammates Austin Cangelosi and David Cronin, Nelson nevertheless was on a productive par with them in 2013. Nelson, in fact, was the Eagles’ top RBI man with 35, and that same number of hits left him only five in arrears of Cangelosi’s team-high mark. Nelson finished with a .368 average, .600 slugging percentage, .478 on-base percentage, 23 runs, five homers, seven double and 16 free passes.
SEAN O’MEARA, Chicago Christian, OF, Jr.
• O’Meara wound up only one point behind Corey Bulthuis on the Knights’ 2013 hitting charts, and the former’s .368 average was built on a team-high total of 45 hits, which included 11 doubles, three homers and three triples. The last two stats also led the squad. In addition, O’Meara topped Chicago Christian in slugging percentage (.612), runs (54) and RBI (42) while striking out just 15 times in 144 plate appearances. Other numbers of note were a .444 on-base percentage, 14 walks and 12 stolen bases.
BRYAN PALL, Sandburg, P, Jr.
• When it came to control, few pitchers were better than Pall, who walked only 11 batters in 59 2/3 innings while slipping third strikes past 56 of them. That 5-to-1 ratio was eye opening, but probably not too surprising given a couple of Pall’s other pitching numbers. Of special note was his 1.76 ERA, which went along with a 5-2 record.
MIKE REUTER, Evergreen Park, OF, Sr.
• Reuter rather quietly pieced together a solid season for the Mustangs, one that was particularly welcomed when Dan Duh got sidelined by an injury. With the Illinois Wesleyan-bound Reuter assuming a pivotal role, Evergreen Park righted a season that threatened to spiral downward fast and charged toward the school’s first regional championship in more than a half-century. Reuter paced the Mustangs with 23 RBI while batting .333 with 32 hits and a .429 on-base percentage. He socked seven doubles and tallied 21 runs.
ADAM SAMAD, Shepard, OF, Sr.
• For the second year in a row, Samad amassed a .981 fielding percentage, the third-highest total for any Astros player during coach Frank DiFoggio’s 16 seasons. Along with the steady glove work, Samad, who plans to enroll at Illinois Institute of Technology, led Shepard offensively with 25 RBI and 13 walks. He finished with a .361 average, .466 on-base percentage, .402 slugging percentage, 35 hits, 19 runs and seven stolen bases.
WENDALL FERGUSON, Brother Rice
BRODIE MEYER, Chicago Christian
FRANK MEISL, Evergreen Park
KYLE VENHUIZEN, Evergreen Park
CHRIS RAFACZ, Oak Lawn
BILLY THOME, Oak Lawn
JAKE KENDRYNA, Richards
HARLEY MILLER, Richards
JIM WUJCIK, Richards
MAX STRUS, Stagg
NATE THOLL, St. Laurence
COACH OF THE YEAR
MARK SMYTH, Evergreen Park
• In his 13th season at the helm, Smyth guided the Mustangs to heretofore-unreachable heights, as Evergreen played in a sectional final for the first time. Eventual Class 3A champion Joliet Catholic Academy derailed the Mustangs at that point, but they still collected the school’s first regional crown in 55 years. Making the achievement — not to mention Evergreen’s .700 winning percentage over its final 20 games — particularly noteworthy was that the team had begun the 2013 campaign by losing 10 of its first 13 contests.