By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – August 18, 2015 – The Midwest Collegiate League has released its 2015 all-league team and postseason awards.
The season finished with the DuPage County Hounds taking two of three in the MCL Championship series against the Lexington Snipes. After three consecutive years of postseason series resulting in nothing but sweeps, all three playoff sets went to a decisive third game this season.
The Hounds, who also won the regular season title, captured their first MCL championship. The Snipes appeared in the MCL Championship Series for the first time since joining the league in 2013. The Joliet Admirals notched their first playoff berth since moving to Joliet and the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 02011. The Northwest Indiana Oilmen reached the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
The 2015 MCL all-league team and postseason awards winners are listed below, with 2015 MCL statistics and notes on each player provided.
Outfield – Joe Kennedy, Michigan City Lakers
Stats: .425 AVG, .496 OBP, 2 HR, 20 RBIs
Resume: Kennedy, who is entering his redshirt sophomore year at Division-I Eastern Michigan, won the Midwest Collegiate League batting title. The MCL All-Star Game MVP earned high praise and respect among players and coaches around the league. He is the only MCL All-League honoree from a non-playoff team.
Outfield – Zac Taylor, DuPage County Hounds
Stats: .387 AVG, .418 OBP, 1 HR, 16 RBIs
Resume: An All-Star starter, Taylor was a steady force for the league-champion Hounds. He stole 11 bases, ranking second on the team to Joe Duncan, who led the league with 24. The Downers Grove native is entering his sophomore year at Division-I Houston.
Outfield - Tyler Sroczynski, Northwest Indiana Oilmen
Stats: .397 AVG, .493 OBP, 3 HR, 31 RBIs, 19 BB
Resume: Sroczynski posted the highest batting average in Northwest Indiana Oilmen history, ranked second in the league in hitting and matched the team record for home runs. He led NWI in average, home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and stolen bases (17).
First base – Trent Carrier, DuPage County Hounds
Stats: .328 AVG, .411 OBP, 2 HR, 24 RBIs
Resume: Carrier launched a home run in the clinching game of the MCL Championship Series, a 7-2 win over Lexington. The Anaheim, California native and Holy Names attendee complimented his offensive prowess with an ability to pitch, going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings.
Second base – Ryan Fitzgerald, DuPage County Hounds
Stats: .333 AVG, 5 HR, 28 RBIs, .397 OBP
Resume: Fitzgerald recovered from a slow start to the season to make an impact during DuPage County’s run to the MCL regular season and postseason titles. He was right at the Mendoza line three weeks into the season and held a .254 average in early July. From there, he took off. Fitzgerald had at least one hit in 15 of his last 16 and had nine multi-hit games during that stretch, becoming perhaps the most vital player on a team loaded with talent. In addition, he batted .346 in the playoffs and scored seven runs in the six games.
Shortstop – Owen Miller, Lexington Snipes
Stats: .343 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBIs, 12 BB
Resume: Miller owned the best batting average on a Lexington team that went to its first league championship series since joining the MCL. Making Miller’s MCL success all the more impressive is the fact that it came right on the heels of his high school career. He is entering his freshman year at Division-I Illinois State.
Third base – Stefano Belmonte, Northwest Indiana Oilmen
Stats: .341 AVG, 2 HR, .434 OBP, 30 RBIs, 13 BB
Resume: In his second year in the MCL, Belmonte again played the role of an RBI machine. He ranked second in the league in RBIs this year after tying for the league lead in 2014 while playing for the Southland Vikings. Belmonte blasted a game-tying home run in Game 3 of the MCL semifinal series against the Lexington Snipes. He has committed to Division-I Florida Gulf Coast for the 2016 season with two years of eligibility remaining.
Catcher – Billy Hayes, DuPage County Hounds
Stats: .329 AVG, .390 OBP, 18 RBIs
Resume: While the catching position has not often been known to produce big offensive numbers in the MCL, the 2015 season proved to be the exception. Some of the league’s finest hitters – including Michigan City’s Jay Resendez and the Northwest Indiana trio of Joe Jumonville, Zack Jones and Josh Turnock – all made their home behind the plate. Leading the way was Hayes, who also did a strong job handling the league-champion Hounds pitching staff.
Pitcher of the Year – Tom Concklin, DuPage County Hounds
Inside the Decision: Although his ERA (2.36) was not quite as strong as Oilmen pitchers Keith Mahler or Enrique Zamora, it was Concklin who seemed to always come through at the right time while helping his team to a title. Concklin’s perfect 3-0 record and 26 strikeouts against 13 bases on balls bolstered his resume. He capped his season with six innings of two-run baseball in Game 1 of the MCL Finals, a 4-2 win over the Snipes.
Reliever of the Year – Ian Hall, Lexington Snipes
Inside the Decision: The Heartland left-hander did not crack a deep Snipes rotation, but his quality work out of the bullpen made his a valuable piece for manager Billy DuBois. Hall struck out 21 while issuing just eight bases on balls. He went 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA in 16 games, all in relief.
Most Valuable Player – Tyler Sroczynski, Northwest Indiana Oilmen
Inside the Decision: Although DuPage County won the regular season and postseason titles, they did so more with team depth than individual stardom. Although Joe Kennedy finished with a slightly higher batting average and on-base percentage, his value – through no fault of his own – is decreased by playing for a losing team. Sroczynski was the player in the league whose team would have likely seen the biggest decrease in win total without him. He is a five-tool player, displaying a solid arm, flashing the leather in center field, running the bases well, getting on-base at a high clip and hitting for power. The Dyer, Indiana native will play for Oilmen manager Adam Enright at Trinity Christian College, where Enright is an assistant coach under former Oilmen manager Justin Huisman.
Manager of the Year – Sean Osborne, DuPage County Hounds
Inside the Decision: It’s hard to argue with the success of the DuPage County Hounds. The Hounds put together their fourth straight winning season and earned a spot in the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. Osborne guided DuPage County to its second MCL regular season title and its first league championship. The Hounds used good defense, speed and fundamentally-sound baseball to claw their way to the league title.
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