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updated: 3/13/2013 10:29 PM

Join the klub: Kyle Kennedy follows family's campus baseball tradition

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  • Warren's Kyle Kennedy will pitch for North Park next spring.

       Warren's Kyle Kennedy will pitch for North Park next spring.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Ryan Kennedy

      Ryan Kennedy

  • Sean Kennedy

      Sean Kennedy

 
 

If North Park University and Valparaiso University can get together for a baseball game next year, you might want to get some giant "K" cards out for three certain pitchers.

Pop out one capital "K" for Sean Kennedy.

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Stick a second, for Ryan Kennedy, next to it.

Flash a third, for Kyle Kennedy, "the opponent" (sorry, brother) by a wall or fence on the other side of the field.

And then let the strikeouts start piling up.

Some Kennedys get together on Cape Cod.

Some Kennedys get together on a baseball field.

With Warren senior Kyle Kennedy committing to play baseball for North Park, Jim and Karen Kennedy will have all three of their strong-armed, athletic sons playing collegiate baseball next year. Sean, a junior, and Ryan, a sophomore, both pitch for Valpo.

The two older Kennedys went a combined 4-0 last year for the Crusaders, with Sean posting a 3.47 ERA in 23 innings, and Ryan allowing just 1 earned run in 15 innings pitched (0.60 ERA).

"It's pretty crazy," Kyle Kennedy said. "I'm hoping (North Park and Valparaiso) schedule a game next year because that would be really cool to play against them."

Little brother, first, has some work to do this spring. Along with fellow veteran Adam Reuss, Kennedy will anchor a staff that should make Warren competitive again. The Blue Devils also return shortstop Dominic Cuevas, designated hitter Nick Orslini, third baseman Ben Dinter and right fielder Justin Cobe.

"It's looking very optimistic," Kennedy said. "We have some kids that are hitting really well in the cages, and our pitching is deep. So I think we have a good shot of winning our conference this year.

"We definitely have a good core."

In Kennedy, the Blue Devils have a kid who could be in line for a big 2013, building on last spring, when he got stronger as the season progressed. The 5-foot-9 righty threw strikes and showed off a rubber arm. He pitched 9 innings in one game, needing just 101 pitches.

Kennedy finished the season with a 1.85 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 44 innings, walking only 16.

"We look to him to throw as much as possible," Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "Kyle, like both of his brothers, wants the ball every day and we have to limit the times he throws during the week. We wish we had more guys that want the ball as much as he does. He recovers very well after he pitches because he takes care of his arm, probably learning from his older brothers. He had some really great games last year."

North Park noticed Kennedy's potential.

The Vikings, who compete at the Division III level, went 32-14 last year, winning the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championship for the third time in four years. Kennedy verbally committed to North Park head coach Luke Johnson this winter.

North Park is located on Chicago's north side, just a 45-minute drive from Gurnee.

"It's beautiful," Kennedy said. "It was a good fit for me."

Guys who keep the ball around the plate make for a perfect fit on any pitching staff. And as for his ability to bounce back quickly after a start?

"I attribute it to hard work in the off-season, keeping my arm in shape and just continuing to stay healthy," Kennedy said.

Sean and Ryan have taught their kid brother a thing or two, too.

"I've pretty much learned every aspect of playing baseball from watching and playing with my older brothers," Kyle said, "from pitching to hitting to even fielding."

(O)K.

jaguilar@dailyherald.com

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