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Regional playoffs and 20 wins highlight baseball season

Regional playoffs and 20 wins highlight baseball season

It's been nine years since the Cyclones won 20 games, 12 since they earned 10 conference wins and even more time since they were in the regional playoffs. Reaching those milestones were major highlights for the baseball team this season.

The Cyclones' talent pushed through tough competition, particularly in the playoffs. They faced Madison College, a team that not only made it to the Region IV semifinals but also had some players drafted. Richie Kiernicki (Nazareth Academy) was able to shut down the WolfPack in that game for four innings. He, along with southpaw Timothy Dobrik (Sandburg), Ryan Czajowski (Argo) and Brett Smith (Shepard), were strong on the mound, helping their team all year, said Head Coach Hugh Dennehy, who finished his third season leading the Cyclones.

Moraine Valley finished 20-26 overall and 10-11 in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference. They haven't had a 20-win season since 2010 and 10 conference wins since 2007. "This season was a mix of highs and lows. Getting to 20 wins was a goal, but we wanted closer to 30. We should've won more, and everyone thinks that's easy. I've learned I know less than I thought. Just being good isn't good enough. We need to be smarter on how we approach the game. It's more about technique than ability. We have to put the team before the individual," he said.

Mother Nature was partly a factor in the team's performance. The wet weather removed the Cyclones from ample time on their home field, relegating them to a neutral site or the opponent's diamond. That and a high-level of competition in the conference and region were the culprits. But a number of players made significant contributions.

Sophomore Thomas Moran led the way offensively for the Cyclones, averaging .319 with 35 RBIs, 10 doubles, five homeruns and a .567 slugging percentage. He earned a nod to the All-Region IV second team and was an All-Conference honorable mention. Dobrik and Kyel Alexander (Morgan Park) earned All-Conference second team honors. Alexander, Brenden Butler (Oak Lawn) and Gilbert Jaime-Baez (Puerto Rico) had big hits when needed all season. Butler, Alexander, Moran and Stephen Insley (St. Rita) also were solid defenders.

Dennehy will look to the strength of his returners, including Insley and catcher Nate Villagomez (Reavis), as well as a strong recruiting class next season to elevate the Cyclones even further. He also intends to streamline the team's hitting philosophy, putting everyone on the same page, and delve into the player's mental approach to the game.

"The kids did a good job and worked hard getting after it. We just need to get better," Dennehy said. "We had a great year, and I'm glad for the players to get that experience. If we teach the incoming guys how to get there it'll be a positive move for the program, and I hope we can build on that."