04/02/2016 11:53 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – April 2, 2016 – The more things change, the more they remain the same for Parkland College sophomore Sam Geraci.
In some ways, this summer will be just like a year ago – as he’s agreed to return for a second season with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
However, this time Geraci will be spending considerably less time at shortstop and considerably more time on the mound. In 2015, he batted .292 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 32 games with the Oilmen. In 2016, the Steger, Ill. native and Illinois Lutheran High School graduate will be used primarily as a pitcher.
“It’ll be different for sure, but at the same time, I got a really good sense of all the great competition in the league,” Geraci said. “I’m really excited to play again. I loved every one of the guys on the team. You got to meet a whole bunch of people from different colleges and see different players and what their paths are.”
The summer will be a transitional one for Geraci, who has committed to Division-II University of Illinois Springfield for the 2017 season. The Prairie Stars, members of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, are under the direction of third-year head coach Chris Ramirez, who has guided the squad to back-to-back 20-win seasons since taking over.
“I went on a visit, and it was a really great atmosphere over there,” Geraci said. “It’s a nice campus and I love the coaching staff. They’ve got a great program, so I loved everything.”
Geraci joins Tyler Sroczynski, Richard Yelnick, Hunter Clark and Joe Bryant as returnees from last year’s team.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to take the summer off and do some training, but I was in contact with coach Adam (Enright) and I came to the realization I really loved the atmosphere of playing at Oil City Stadium, the fans and all that. He offered me a spot as a starting pitcher, so I decided to come back.”
Although he was brought to the Oilmen as a position player, Geraci did make one pitching appearance last season. During the final week of the regular season, Enright used his relief pitchers as starters and saved his usual starters for the playoffs. Therefore, Geraci was needed to work in relief.
The right-hander made his first Midwest Collegiate League pitching appearance on July 30, as he came on to toss the final 3 1/3 innings of a 9-2 win over Michigan City. He allowed one run on three hits to earn the save.
“I wish I would have known he was that good all year,” Enright said after the game. “His curveball was really good. Maybe that’s a guy we end up running back out there in the playoffs, you never know.”
Geraci didn’t end up toeing the rubber in the three-game postseason series against Lexington, but he did thrive at the dish, ranking third on the team with a .364 postseason average.
Before turning his attention to the Oilmen or Illinois Springfield, Geraci has business to attend to at Parkland. The Cobras are 18-7 and 4-0 in conference play. Geraci has pitched 4 1/3 innings over four game thus far, compiling a 2.08 ERA while issuing five walks and striking out five.
Knowing his first chance to make a positive impression on the Illinois Springfield coaching staff is on the horizon will have Geraci locked in this summer.
“I’m trying to earn a spot on a team,” he said. “I know I am making a change to a university now and I’m going to have to earn a spot over there. I want to go into the fall season with a good summer behind me. Ultimately, I want to win.”