Baseball: Local players stay busy this summer
Jack Rogalla’s house in Oak Park is pretty crowded this summer.
The Oak Park-River Forest grad is home for the summer from Binghamton University in New York and like many college students, he is working downtown in the Loop. Rogalla has taken an internship with a commercial real estate company.
But Rogalla has a different job in the evening this summer as a member of the Will County CrackerJacks in the Midwest Collegiate League, an eight-team wood bat league for college-aged players. Rogalla (1-1, 2.19 ERA), a right-hander, is expected to make the start Monday night for Will County at the Southland Vikings at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. The CrackerJacks opened their home schedule with an 11-8 loss to the DuPage County Hounds at Lewis University’s Brennan Field in Romeoville.
Each team is playing more than 40 games in the league this summer, Rogalla has two teammates from Binghamton playing with him on Will County this summer. Infielder Daniel Nevares from Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, and outfielder Shaun McGraw from Brewerton, N.Y. are staying with Rogalla this summer.
Will County President and General Manager Jamie Toole contacted the Binghamton trio and asked if they were willing to play in the league months ago.
“I’m excited about playing summer ball. It’s always fun coming here,” Rogalla said.
Rogalla ranks second on Will County with 15 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings and has allowed only two walks.
Will County is one of the original teams in the three-year-old league. After Friday’s game, manager Vern Hasty was suspended indefinitely due to an off-field altercation with an umpire June 11 and was replaced by former Cubs outfielder Bob Dernier, who served as the CrackerJacks’ associate head coach and director of baseball operations.
Three other former area high school players are in the league, including one of Rogalla’s former OPRF teammates, Frank Picchiotti with the Illinois Lincolns. The expansion Hounds have two local players on their roster with Hinsdale South’s Gary Mayberry and Lyons Township’s Brian Rodemoyer. Mayberry said Rodemoyer missed Friday’s game due to an injury. Rodemoyer (Illinois State) was the starting first baseman for LT’s 2011 state championship team. He is batting .200 in five games and has one home run and two RBI.
Mayberry, who attends NAIA Ashford in Clinton, Iowa, pinch hit to leadoff the eighth inning and hit a double off the fence in right field. He scored the tying run at 7-7 against Will County on Patrick Kustok’s RBI double in the next at-bat.
Mayberry is second on the Hounds in batting average (.342). He leads the team in runs (11), home runs (two) and RBI (nine).
“It’s good to get at-bats with wood bats. It really helps,” Mayberry said.
Mayberry’s connection to the Midwest Collegiate League is through Hounds manager Sean Osborne, a former coach at Mesa Community College in Arizona. Mayberry played for two years at Mesa before transferring to Ashford.
Picchiotti could not attend OPRF’s June 9 Class 4A state championship game against LT due to a game with the Lincolns. Picchiotti’s younger brother, Jack, scored the winning run in that game in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Frank is batting .444 in seven games as a second baseman-outfielder for Illinois, which plays its home games at Joliet Junior College. Picchiotti played for the University of Tampa last season, but will play for Parkland College in Champaign this fall.
“The coaches gave me a call to play with them. It came out of nowhere,” Picchiotti said. “It has been a lot of fun. The guys on the team are pretty great.”