The Ohio Monarchs Gold summer college baseball team will get to defend their championship at next month's LineDrive Sportz NABF College World Series presented by BCSN in Toledo.
"We're always talking about going back and winning it again," said Cory Hornyak, a 2006 Genoa graduate who pitches and plays outfield for the Monarchs. "That would be a big thing for us to do. No one's ever done it, so we're hoping to be the first."
This year's NABF World Series will be held Aug. 6-9 at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Owens Community College, Bowman Park and the University of Toledo's Scott Park.
Last year the Monarchs Gold team overcame a loss in round-robin play to finish 5-1 in the tournament. They beat the Long Island (N.Y.) Astros - behind a game-winning hit from Clay grad Casey Winckowski - to claim the title at Skeldon Stadium.
"We lost to a good team in the round-robin, but we battled that whole weekend," Hornyak recalled.
We had a lot of ups and downs during that Series to win it. We went through a lot, and it was a great thing. I had fun. We went out and just played our game."
Hornyak, a 6-2, 225-pound right-hander, hit .458 during the NABF World Series. He scored seven runs with six stolen bases, two RBI, a double and a triple in six games. His diving catch in the outfield in the title game prevented at least one run from scoring, cementing his selection as NABF World Series MVP.
"I thought Casey, getting that game-winning hit, they might have given it to him," Hornyak said. "He had a great Series, too. I was surprised I did win it. It was pretty cool."
Hornyak has played at Youngstown State for the past three years, although his 2009 season was cut in half because of tendonitis in his throwing shoulder. He had just two plate appearances all season and he pitched three games in relief, covering 2 1/3 innings.
"I was injured for half the season," Hornyak said. "I got tendonitis in my shoulder and I had to rest. They sat me down for a month and a half, with no throwing at all. Right now I'm getting back into my throwing program for the summer.
"I didn't hit at Youngstown and I'm just getting back into it. I'm on a pretty good streak. I have arthritis in my left knee, so I get some problems if I play games consistently. I get a little pain. Other than that, I just try to play through it. I just try to rest it as much as I can when I'm not playing."
Hornyak, the 2006 Suburban Lakes League Player of the Year during his senior year at Genoa, said he is in the process of transferring to Division II Tiffin University.
"Youngstown State got a new coach and things just didn't really work out for me," he said. "Tiffin is closer to home and they were really interested in me, even though I've already played three years at Youngstown. I love the program and the facilities, and the coaches are great. I think I'm going to fit in there pretty nice, and I have a couple buddies who play there."
Hornyak, 21, has started two games for the Monarchs this summer and given up six hits in 10 innings. He has seven walks and 12 strikeouts and has not allowed a run. The Monarchs have won both of his starts.
"He's able to throw three or four different pitches for strikes," second-year Monarchs coach Ed Mouch said. "He's got a fastball-slider and he throws a split-finger. He has the capability of throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He looks pretty imposing on the mound."
Hornyak has contributed at the plate and on the basepaths for the Monarchs, who were 24-10 and 8-1 in the Toledo Amateur Baseball Federation as of July 20. Hornyak is hitting .368 (28-for-76) with 20 runs, 22 RBI, 10 doubles, 10 walks, three triples and three home runs.
"He struggled early on because of the total number of at-bats he got at Youngstown," Mouch said. "Since the third week of June he's been hitting extremely well. He has the capability of hitting the ball on the ground for an infield single, and he can hit the ball over the fence.
"He runs real well. He's contributing some havoc even on the basepaths in regards to his legs. He can do a lot of different things offensively. He's 13-for-13 in stolen bases, so he's an offensive weapon in that regard."
Hornyak’s Monarchs Gold team opens the College World Series Aug. 6 with a 12:30 p.m. game against the Louisville Orangemen (Derby City Baseball, Ky.) at Owens Community College. At 4 p.m., the Monarchs Gold play the Michigan Bulls (Livonia Collegiate League, Mich.) at Owens. At 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, the Gold will play the Saratoga, New York regional winner at Ned Skeldon Stadium to complete pool play.
The Monarchs Blue open the CWS Aug. 6 with a 9 a.m. game against the Dubrose Hurricanes (Continental Collegiate League, Pa.), then play at 4 p.m. against the Brunswick Express (Blue Ridge League, Md.) — with both games at the University of Toledo’s Scott Park. On Friday, the Blue team plays the Youngstown regional winner at 4 p.m. at Bowman Park. Quarterfinals are Saturday and final four Sunday at Skeldon.