Baseball Enjoys Successful Recruiting Campaign|
Nov. 17, 2000
University of Illinois at Chicago baseball coach Mike Dee had a one-track mind when the 2002 recruiting period began - pitching. Dee's efforts' did not go unnoticed as he inked four pitchers to National Letters of Intent.
"The only position that we brought in this fall was pitching," Dee said. "We didn't bring a single position player in. It was definitely a decision that we made as a staff that we wanted to sign at least three or four pitchers this fall. We were very satisfied with where our position players are right now."
The recruiting class includes Bill Bernabei (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew), Andy Sigerich (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North), John Flood (Mount Vernon, Ill./Mount Vernon) and Ryan Gehring (Burlington, Wis./Central Catholic).
"We are truly excited about the future that all four of these young men have as players and as leaders," Dee said. "They all possess great potential physically and I believe they have a great opportunity to contribute as freshmen. More importantly they all have the qualities of becoming tremendous leaders. That characteristic was the most important attribute that we were looking for in a prospect. Our players liked each one of them and also felt they would be a tremendous fit for what we are trying to accomplish here."
Bernabei, a 6-5, 225 pound righthander, appeared in 14 games in 2000 primarily as a reliever and as a part-time starter. He finished the season with a record of 4-0 and four saves. He struck out 47 batters in 38 2/3 innings and allowed 10 earned runs for an ERA of 1.81.
Andrew head coach Frank Ganser believes that Bernabei made the right decision to attend UIC.
"Bill's got a great future ahead of him because he's coming into his own right now," Ganser said. "He has all the tools and all the potential in the world. His work ethic is amazing. Everything he does is 100 percent."
Dee and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Sean McDermott liked what he saw from Bernabei from the get-go.
"Bill Bernabei was a guy that we really liked a lot last summer," McDermott said. "He's a huge kid and he's going to be even bigger. We saw him throw 87-89, and he's got tremendous potential. He's from one of the best high school programs in the state of Illinois and he's got great composure. He's got a tremendous future ahead of him."
He has the physical skills to help us on the mound. He's a tremendous leader and a great student. We recruit good people and not just good players. He has great potential."
Sigerich, a 6-9, 225-pounder, appeared in nine games for Downers Grove North with seven starts and three complete games for a record of 6-0. The lanky right-hander struck out 54 batters in 36 1/3 innings of work while allowing 27 hits and 17 earned runs for an ERA of 3.28.
Downers Grove North head coach Chad Isaacson said that Sigerich will fit into the UIC program nicely.
"He's a competitor," Isaacson said. "He's a great ballplayer and he will continue to become better and a more complete pitcher."
McDermott feels that the sky is the limit for Sigerich.
"He throws in the middle to upper 80's," McDermott said. "He's a quality player and prospect that could have an impact early on in the program."
Flood, a 6-3, 185-pounder, tossed four complete games in 14 appearances for Mount Vernon for a 4-3 record with three saves and an earned run average of 3.37. He struck out 72 batters in 60 1/3 innings of work.
Mount Vernon head coach Kent Stevens said that Flood has all the tools to be a solid collegiate pitcher.
"He's the type of kid that you want on your team," Stevens said. "He's a very intelligent and athletic individual. The kids on the team look up to him as a leader."
Those qualities presented themselves to Dee and McDermott.
"We saw John at the area-code tryouts, which is really the premier tryout camp in this part of the country," McDermott said. "We really liked his arm action. I think he's a kid that has a chance to help us right away as a freshman."
"He's a very intelligent kid," McDermott added. "He's a tremendous three-sport athlete and we feel that he has the opportunity to become a great leader."
Gehring, a 6-4, 190-pound left hander, compiled a record of 32-4 in four years at the varsity level.
Having a left-hander on the staff is a luxury that most coaches enjoy, including Dee and McDermott.
"He can come and step in right away and compete," McDermott said. "He's a great kid who wants the opportunity to play at a higher level, learn and get better."
While Dee is ecstatic about his recruiting class, the job is not quite finished.
"Potentially, every one of these kids has a chance to get drafted in the spring," Dee said. "So it's not over yet. It's a concern for us, but we felt that we had to go after the kind of a player that had enough ability to potentially get drafted, because we need them to make a contribution next year."