Former All-Suburban Lakes League and Genoa baseball star Cory Hornyak has made another mark on the area baseball scene.
Hornyak recently earned the National Amateur Baseball Federation College World Series Most Valuable Player award after helping lead the Ohio Monarchs Gold to championship triumph.
Using a wood bat, Hornyak hit .458 in the CWS, held at Ned Skeldon Stadium, the former home of the Toledo Mud Hens in Maumee at the Lucas County Fairgrounds.
He swiped six stolen bases, scored seven runs, clubbed a double and a triple, and played sensational defense in center all tourney long for the Monarchs.
Ohio defeated the favored, defending champion Long Island (N.Y.) Astros 4-3 in the CWS championship game August 11 to bring the Northwest Ohio region its first such college division federation title. No other had ever advanced past the semifinals in the event’s 25-year history.
“It’s an honor winning the award,” Hornyak said. “My bat swing finally came around in the tournament, and I started seeing the ball well by the time the College World Series came around.”
He was equally elated about his summer team’s accomplishment.
“It was exciting to win that as a team, coming in as an underdog,” Hornyak said. “It’s big, good to have a Toledo team do so well. It shows we do have some really good players in the area who can play with anybody in the country.”
Hornyak’s critical performance exhibited an impressive blend of speed, fielding and a keen batting eye not only to fans and opponents, but also to Major League Baseball scouts in attendance.
Those scouts reportedly adored Hornyak’s speed (six stolen bags and a triple) in relation his size (6-2, 210-pounds). He showed extensive range in center throughout the CWS, at no moment better exemplified than when he made a highlight reel, diving catch in left-center to rob the Astros of at least a run and more likely a pair of them in that one-run championship victory.
“I just dove out and made the catch,” Hornyak said. “I had missed one the night before (a 7-2 semifinal win over the Maryland Orioles), so I knew I wanted to make up for that.”
Adding to his appeal, Hornyak dealt six innings of one-hit ball with a single earned run allowed for the Monarchs during the tourney.
On scholarship at Youngstown State University, Hornyak had a somewhat disappointing sophomore season, starting 28 games in the outfield, but hitting just .197 with 15 runs scored and eight doubles. He showed a bit of power with a pair of homers, but that surge came off the more lively aluminum bat.
As Hornyak explained, the Penguin coaching staff geared him more toward pitching his freshman season, but redirected him toward hitting and a spot in center as a sophomore, forcing him to re-focus on learning to hit college pitching.
“Going into my sophomore year I didn’t focus on hitting so much, because I thought they wanted me to pitch,” he said. “I think I struggled for awhile because I hadn’t been working on my hitting as much.”
The fact that his effort to make the readjustment and rediscovery of his swing didn’t manifest until late in the wood bat summer fed ball campaign made his ability to blossom a case study in perfect timing.
“Going into the (CWS) I had no idea the scouts were going to be there,” Hornyak said, “but I figured out they were and just went out and played my game. I started off hot and then slowed down a bit in pool play, then got hot again in those final games.
“It’s pretty nice hitting that well with the scouts looking.”
Now Hornyak figures to be a Penguin who makes a big splash before he’s done playing for coach Rich Pasquale’s Division I program. His NABF CWS performance gave irrefutable indication to his ability.
“I’ve just started getting my swing back this summer, so I have a pretty good feeling going into my junior year,” he said, thanking Monarchs assistant coach Joe Munoz for his teachings.
The gem of a glove Hornyak displayed in the CWS also sparkled during his sophomore college. In 44 total games played, he committed just two errors and owned a.977 fielding percentage.
Hornyak spent just one inning on the YSU hill in 2008, but Hornyak said he still would love to pitch for the Penguins in perhaps a relief capacity.
“I love pitching and would to keep it going,” he said. “I’ll try to pitch more at Youngstown State, maybe as a closer.”
No matter what roles he plays during his remaining college days, the business finance major is clear about one thing. He’s taking stock of his recent emergence on the pro scout radar and continuing to work hard at advancing his diamond savvy as far as he can.
“My goal is to make it in baseball, and I’ve worked my tail off to do just that,” he said. “I just know I’m going to burst out, and I intend to take playing baseball as far as it will take me.”
As a Comet athlete, Hornyak was a four-year letterman in both baseball and soccer.
In baseball he was a first team all-Suburban Lakes League selection and was named Genoa High’s Baseball Player of the Year as a senior.
Hornyak proved to be a natural athletic phenom by earning All-Ohio first team honors in soccer as both a junior and a senior. He owns Comet records for goals in a season (45) and career goals (95).
He helped shoot the Comets to four SLL soccer crowns and one in baseball.