LOMBARD – Showcases are prevalent and relevant for aspiring college baseball players, but the pressure of performing in a short window when dozens of other talented baseball players are on hand can be daunting.
Not everyone can make it count, but recent Glenbard East graduate Nick Vichio thrived under that pressure last summer and it paid off. Vichio impressed at the Stevenson Showcase just over a year ago and everything changed.
“Last summer I wasn’t even sure if I was going to play college baseball,” Vichio said. “Then I went to that Stevenson Showcase and I think I hit 88 or 89 (mph) on the gun. That’s when I started getting calls from schools. Before that I didn’t realize what I was going to do for college.”
One of the schools that spotted him that weekend, St. Louis University, won over Vichio, and the Glenbard East star will continue his career with the Billikens next season.
After completing a senior season that included a .386 batting average and 13 extra-base hits to go with his pitching prowess (1.92 ERA in 54-2/3 innings), Vichio will only pitch at SLU. He said he prefers pitching, but will miss taking his swings as an everyday player.
“I’m definitely going to miss it because I just love baseball, all parts of it,” Vichio said. “I love hitting, but at the same time I think it’s also going to be nice just to be able to focus on pitching and hopefully do my best there.”
Growing up Vichio also played football and basketball before turning his focus solely to baseball during his sophomore year. The extra attention paid off and he’s hoping the same can be said when he drops hitting to improve on his pitching.
Any improvement will be welcome in St. Louis, where the Billikens are losing three key senior pitchers from a team that shared the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and won the conference tournament. Vichio said the coaches told him those absences would give him an opportunity to contribute right away.
“When I went on my visit, the cool thing that really attracted me to St. Louis was I guess they’re losing ... pitchers this year and I have a good chance of getting a good amount of innings in my freshman year,” Vichio said. “There’s definitely a chance that I’m going to play.”
Vichio, who plans to major in sports business, finished his Glenbard East career as an all-conference selection in the DuPage Valley Conference this season.
Meet the 2013 All-Area Baseball North Team:
School: Timothy Christian
Bandemer led the Trojans in batting average (.373), hits (31), RBIs (23) and innings pitched (45-1/3) and shared the team lead in runs scored (20), doubles (seven) and pitching wins (three). He also blasted three home runs and had a 3.55 ERA on the mound.
Bartosz led the Broncos with a .413 batting average and had 10 extra-base hits. The Montini first baseman had 18 RBIs and scored 23 runs this season. He also pitched 33 innings and will continue his career at St. Mary’s in Minnesota.
In addition to his success with the football team in the fall, Battaglia was a major contributor for the Warriors’ baseball team this spring. Battaglia hit .351 with 10 doubles, 17 RBIs, 29 runs scored and was a perfect 30-for-30 in stolen base attempts.
School: IC Catholic
The Knights’ senior also starred on the football team, but he truly excelled on the diamond. Brinkman hit .440 to lead IC and didn’t do it cheaply. He had 15 extra-base hits this season to go with 25 RBIs, 35 runs scored and a 3.30 ERA in 23-1/3 innings on the mound.
Cericola’s standout career concluded this season with a 1.17 ERA, 66 strikeouts and a 6-3 record in 48 innings. Throw in last year’s 0.99 ERA and 94 strikeouts and Cericola, an Olivet Nazarene commit, will go down as one of the most successful pitchers in Willowbrook history.
The St. Mary’s (Minn.) recruit was the player of the year in the Suburban Christian Conference and helped the Broncos win the Blue Division. He hit .391 with five home runs, 25 RBIs and 30 runs scored. Dobosenski was also the ace of the staff with a 1.21 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 46.1 innings.
School: Addison Trail
Garcia, who was also a standout for the basketball team, hit .342 to lead the Blazers. He drove in 23 runs and scored 35 more at the top of the AT order. The senior infielder also had 16 extra-base hits, including five triples.
Johnson scored 33 runs to lead the Warriors and shared the team lead with 10 doubles. He hit .365 with 22 RBIs and also stole eight bases. Willowbrook featured a lot of seniors so Johnson will be expected to play a big role as a returner next spring.
The outfielder led the Warriors in batting average at .375 and triples with three. He had just seven RBIs, but scored 21 runs. Moltzan will travel to Arizona to continue his career at Mesa Community College.
Paparone set the table for the Dukes, hitting .330 from the leadoff spot. He drilled 10 extra-base hits with 17 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Paparone also played solid outfield for York and was one of the team's leaders.
The Butler recruit was a two-way standout for the Dukes. On the mound, where he is expected to be used in college, he posted a 2.69 ERA with 39 strikeouts and just nine walks in 54 innings. When not pitching, he played shortstop and third base and hit .324 with 12 doubles.
Santos became one of the Dukes’ top pitchers as the season wore on and will have high expectations on him next spring. He posted a 1.80 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 35 innings and also hit .308 with 16 RBIs and 23 runs scored.
School: Glenbard East
Spears was a major contributor as a hitter and pitcher and an all-conference pick in the DuPage Valley Conference. As a power-hitting first baseman, Spears hit .298 with four home runs, 16 RBIs and 14 runs scored. On the mound, he had a 3.10 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 70 innings.
Tumpane was expected to be a contributor this year, but had a breakout season offensively. He led the Broncos with 16 extra-base hits, including five home runs. Tumpane hit .352 with 23 RBIs and 26 runs scored.
School: Glenbard East
The Rams’ ace showed off big numbers as a hitter and pitcher. Vichio had a 1.92 ERA in 54-2/3 innings and hit .386 with 13 extra base hits, 15 RBIs and 13 runs scored. The all-conference pick in the DuPage Valley Conference will continue his pitching career at St. Louis next spring.
Addison Trail: Joe Kurucar, Nick Rybarczyk, Bradley Schonder
Glenbard East: Yoanny Gonzalez, Joe Kotch
IC Catholic: Danny D’Angelo, Eric Orozco, Cruz Ortega
Montini: Eddie Bava, Eric Frontzak, Austin Kline, Rhett Wojkovich
Timothy Christian: Brandon Scott
Willowbrook: Jake Cady
York: Pete Doughty