The DuPage County All-Area Baseball Team
Jack Blazevich, Downers Grove South
Blazevich came to Downers South with a plan and, more importantly, a solid work ethic. This junior season it translated into an offensive explosion for the second baseman and shortstop. Blazevich, who is eyeing Ivy League programs, batted .436 with 4 home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.250 OPS. "He had a goal and a plan all along and he just keeps checking off those boxes," coach Darren Orel said.
Bret Bushka, Glenbard East
As if Bushka's inspired play at quarterback wasn't enough, the senior catcher capped an incredible four-year varsity run for the Rams' baseball team. Committed to Butler for football, Bushka might also try to walk on for the baseball team after this season hitting .451 with 37 runs scored, 33 RBI, a 1.204 OPS and 22 steals. "He did so many things well for us for so long," coach Joel Pelland said.
A.J. Casmer, Lisle
A senior with three varsity seasons under his belt, Casmer will continue to play at Lewis. He was most impressive on the mound while posting a 0.97 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 57⅔ innings, but he also hit .333 and stole 28 bases. Late in the season Casmer, an outfielder, played catcher when not pitching. "He's the most versatile player I've coached," coach Pete Meyer said.
Joey Ciero, Glenbard West
Ciero was critical during the Hilltoppers' run to a regional championship. The senior pitcher beat Oak Park twice by shutout in WSC Silver play, then topped St. Charles East in the regional and held Elk Grove without an earned run in the sectional. In 45 innings Ciero had a 1.56 ERA and drove in 13 runs at the plate. "I'd give that kid the ball every single day if I could," coach Andy Schultz said.
Jacob Cyrus, Glenbard South
Cyrus got a taste of varsity play as a sophomore, but hard work in the off-season made the junior a mainstay in this year's lineup. The outfielder and pitcher was a true dual threat while batting .383 with 37 RBI. Cyrus became the Raiders' ace with an 8-2 record, 67 strikeouts and a 2.38 ERA in 50 innings. "Once he realized he had the ability, everything clicked for him," coach Marco Eufrasio said.
Jack Hines, Willowbrook
At times it was nearly impossible to keep the WSC Gold MVP off the bases. For much of the season the senior shortstop batted over .500 and finished at .455 with a .542 on-base percentage. Eleven doubles and 6 triples led to a 1.222 OPS. Hines stole 28 bases and had 31 RBI. "He did whatever it took to get on base," coach Vic Wisner said. "He made every adjustment at the plate."
Tom Jurack, Hinsdale Central
Already committed to University of Illinois as a junior, Jurack put up one of the Red Devils' best offensive seasons in recent memory. The outfielder's defense also improved immensely. Jurack hit .444 with a 1.205 OPS thanks to 9 doubles and 4 home runs. "He's a special hitter," coach Jason Ziemer said. "We expected him to be one of our best hitters and he didn't disappoint."
Jake Karaba, Neuqua Valley
Karaba was a freshman infielder, didn't begin pitching until his sophomore year, became the varsity closer as a junior, then became a dominant starter this senior season. Committed to Lewis, Karaba went 7-2 with 78 strikeouts and a 2.22 ERA in 60 innings. "This season it was time for him to step into the spotlight as a starter," coach James Thornton said. "And he was great."
Jake Kmiecik, Metea Valley
Kmiecik became varsity shortstop as a sophomore and his defense just kept improving. On the mound the senior went 4-0 with 3 saves and a 1.62 ERA. And Kmiecik, of course, had another great season with his bat. He hit .426 with 26 RBI, a 1.172 OPS and 21 steals. "He's a baseball player in every sense of the word," coach Craig Tomczak said. "Just a great all-around player."
Nick Kosmetatos, St. Francis
The Daily Herald's DuPage County All-Area Baseball Captain, Kosmetatos will continue playing at Butler. The senior shortstop and pitcher was a four-year varsity player who this season won nine games on the mound with 102 strikeouts, only 9 walks and a 0.47 ERA. He batted .350 with 7 homers and 22 RBI. "Even as a freshman you could tell he was going to be great," coach Nick Hall said.
Jay McGrath, Lisle
Not bad for his third-best sport. With stellar football and basketball seasons already behind him this school year, McGrath raked at the plate and developed into a key pitcher. The senior outfielder hit .439 with 10 doubles and 25 RBI. McGrath emerged as a valuable pitcher and had 4 wins and a 2.63 ERA in 32 innings. "No matter what the sport is, you want him on your side," coach Pete Meyer said.
Ryan Mintz, Willowbrook
Overcoming last season's lingering back issues was key to Mintz being named the WSC Gold pitcher of the year. The three-year varsity member developed a nasty changeup that helped the senior amass 66 strikeouts in 47 innings. Mintz went 7-2 with a 1.34 ERA and hit .310 with 19 RBI. "He was 'on' every single start," coach Vic Wisner said. "He'd get strike one and be in complete control."
Andy Nelson, Wheaton North
A big difference between last year and this year? Nelson's ability to shake off a bad game and build upon a good one. And there were plenty of good ones for the Iowa-bound junior shortstop and pitcher. He hit .451 with 29 RBI, 7 triples, 7 home runs and 19 stolen bases. He had a 2.52 ERA in 33⅓ innings. "His numbers jumped and a lot of it had to do with confidence," coach Dan Schoessling said.
Ryan Ross, York
From the moment he was promoted to varsity late in his freshman year, Ross hit with authority. The senior shortstop and center fielder, who's headed to play at Cornell, shifted seamlessly from the three hole to leadoff this year. Ross batted .418 with 4 home runs, 23 RBI, 43 runs scored, 22 stolen bases and a 1.224 OPS. "He was without a doubt our catalyst this year," coach Dave Kalal said.
Logan Ryan, Glenbard West
With a competitive edge brought from football season in the fall, Ryan was a bulldog on the mound for the Hilltoppers. The senior pitcher won six games and had 73 strikeouts with a 1.86 ERA in 49 innings. Ryan also had surprising pop at the plate while driving in a team-high 17 runs. "He's fearless," coach Andy Schultz said. "He just goes out there and challenges hitters."
Matt Scherrman, WW South
During a second-half surge by the Tigers, Scherrman saw his ERA drop and his batting average rise. The senior shortstop and pitcher, a three-year starter, closed the season by throwing 16 straight scoreless innings. He notched 5 wins with 48 strikeouts and a 2.22 ERA. Scherrman hit .351 with 23 RBI. "He had an all-around good season for us," coach John Scherrman said. "And he never got rattled."
Michael Sclafani, Montini
As the Broncos head to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005, they'll continue to lean on their junior first baseman and pitcher. Sclafani was the ace of the staff and the three hitter in the lineup, and he excelled in both spots. He hit .414 with 37 RBI and a 1.153 OPS. In 55 innings he struck out 72 with a 2.28 ERA. "He's just a no-nonsense kind of player," coach Rich Janor said.
Anthony Sterchele, Neuqua Valley
At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Sterchele was a formidable presence on the mound. The senior pitcher put up two tremendous varsity seasons for the Wildcats while notching 13 wins. Sterchele touched the low 90s with his fastball, going 9-2 with 51 strikeouts and a 0.86 ERA. "He's a pitching fanatic," coach James Thornton said. "He's got all the physical attributes to be great."
Cade Sullivan, Metea Valley
The junior third baseman had another monster season. Sullivan was pitched around more than just about every other area player, but it didn't matter. His third varsity campaign was still memorable with a .463 batting average, 8 home runs, 31 RBI and a 1.421 OPS. "He's a once-in-a-generation kind of hitter," coach Craig Tomczak said. "He's the best hitter I've coached in 19 years, by far."
Cliff Vickers, Naperville North
The DVC's most valuable player did it all for the Huskies during his three years on varsity. This season the senior outfielder and pitcher put up his best offensive numbers with a .454 batting average, 22 RBI and a 1.202 OPS. He played a stellar center field and became an ace for the pitching staff with a 2.05 ERA in 41 innings. "He's been a huge part of our team," coach Jim Chiappetta said.
Joe Adamek (Wheaton Warrenville South, sr., OF), Bobby Bartlett (West Chicago, sr., P-1B), Michael Betancourt (Glenbard North, so., P), Nolan Clifford (Neuqua Valley, jr., 2B-P), Spencer Collins (Metea Valley, sr., OF), Gino Cozzi (Downers Grove South, sr., P), Peter Crowe (Wheaton Academy, sr., P-1B), Kellan Gilmartin (York, sr., P), Cole Gregorio (Waubonsie Valley, sr., 1B), Joe Hamilton (Glenbard East, so., SS), Connor Hincks (Benet, jr., 3B), Joe Klein (Wheaton North, sr., OF-P), Alex Lemmons (Waubonsie Valley, sr., P), Max Martin (Wheaton Academy, sr., 2B-P), Matt O'Leary (Westmont, sr., SS), James Ruzicka (Hinsdale South, jr., OF), Michael Scali (Addison Trail, sr., SS), Brandon Sfikas (Metea Valley, sr., P), Mike Sullivan (Wheaton North, sr., P), Bo Thomas (York, sr., DH).