Former Riverside-Brookfield star Ryan Cermak celebrates a grand slam against Western Illinois. Photo courtesy of Illinois State University

Former Riverside-Brookfield star Ryan Cermak celebrates a grand slam against Western Illinois. Photo courtesy of Illinois State University

College report: Former Riverside-Brookfield star homers in four consecutive at-bats

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

Former Riverside-Brookfield baseball standout Ryan Cermak is a leadoff hitter who is belting the ball like a cleanup hitter.

The Illinois State University centerfielder hit three straight homers — including grand slams in consecutive at-bats— and broke a school record with 10 RBIs in a 15-7 victory over Western Illinois on April 6 in Macomb.

“I saw the ball very well today,” Cermak told the Bloomington Pantagraph after the game. “The first grand slam his breaking ball hung a little bit, and I just tried hitting it hard. The second time up, seeing the bases loaded, I of course thought about doing it again but got to two strikes. I finally got my pitch and did it again.

“The next at-bat I was just trying to stay in my approach and hit it hard the other way, and did just that.”

Two days later, the Redbirds played Kansas for the first time in program history. Cermak led off the game with another homer, giving him four home runs in four at-bats.

Through the Redbirds’ first 25 games, he was hitting .389 with 11 homers and 24 RBIs.

The third-year player had 13 starts at third base in 2020 — a COVID-shortened season — and had two homers and seven RBIs. In 2021, he led the team with 11 homers and 40 RBIs and was named a freshman All-American.

At R-B, he was a Metro Suburban Conference Player of the year, had a .396 batting average and was also a top pitcher for the Bulldogs.

 

Locking up the awards

Saint Xavier senior setter Joe Lock was named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year and CCAC Setter of the Year, and also earned All-CCAC first-team recognition.

It is the third consecutive season the Cougars have had a player earn CCAC Player of the Year. Senior outside hitter Grant Ooms won the award in 2020 and former NAIA All-American Aaron Kummer claimed the honor last season.

Lock, a Wisconsin native, also joins Kummer in being named CCAC Setter of the Year. Kummer won the award in 2021.

Ooms and his younger brother, sophomore opposite hitter Shane Ooms, also made the CCAC first team this season.

Sophomore middle blocker Jake McClain, a Marist graduate, was named to the All-CCAC Second Team for the second straight season. Junior middle blocker Drew Ehlers earned All-CCAC Second Team honors for the first time.

In 31 matches and 111 sets, Lock produced 1,124 assists and set the SXU single-season record. He also smashed the program record for services aces with 91, topping the previous best of 56 set in 2015 by Sam Kull (2013-15). Lock added 163 digs, 69 kills and 40 blocks (five solos) for the Cougars. He leads the nation in total assists, total aces and aces per set at 0.82.

SXU (26-9, 13-0 CCAC) was scheduled to open play in the NAIA Men’s Volleyball National Championship Tournament with a match April 12 against Ottawa University and April 13 against Park University.

 

Cyclone celebration

Moraine Valley Community College will host the Athletics 45th anniversary celebration from 1 to 3 p.m. April 30 on the soccer game field, west of the Health, Fitness & Recreation Center, 9000 W. College Parkway in Palos Hills.

This free event is geared toward alumni and members of the community as well as their families. There will be giveaways, food and music, as well as games for children and the opportunity to watch the Cyclone men’s tennis team and softball team compete. The annual Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m.

“We’re very proud of how much our Athletics program has grown over these last 45 years from its humble beginnings. We’ve had many influential coaches, some amazing athletes and supportive staff to make Moraine Valley Athletics so successful,” said Moraine Valley Athletics Director Bill Finn. “We’re really excited to showcase our facilities and athletes while celebrating our proud traditions at our celebration, especially since it’ll coincide with our Hall of Fame ceremony. It’ll be a fun day for everyone.”

For more information, visit mvcyclones.com/45th_anniversary or contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at Vizzam@morainevalley.edu or (708) 974-5742.

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