Bryan Hatch of Des Plaines signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play college baseball at Valparaiso University. The Saint Viator senior follows in a long line of Lions to play at Division I programs in college, but his story has an interesting connection.
It turns out that his baseball coach at Saint Viator, Terry Beyna, played high school baseball with his soon-to-be college coach at Valparaiso, Brian Schmack. They played together on a talented team at Rolling Meadows High School, that won the Mid-Suburban League title in 1991. Their love of the sport would propel both Beyna and Schmack into college programs themselves, Beyna at Illinois State and Schmack at Northern Illinois, and ultimately the major leagues.
According to Marty Maciaszek, in his Mid-Suburban Legends and Beyond blog, the two teammates even drove to Florida together, a year after college, seeking out major league tryout camps. Both would eventually end up with big league teams. Beyna was drafted in the 42nd round by the Houston Astros, while Schmack was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1996 by the White Sox. He would bounce around a bit before ending his 10-year professional career with the Detroit Tigers.
Beyna mentioned the coaching connection at the signing ceremony, but he was quick to point out that their relationship played no role in recruiting Bryan.
“We had no contact with each other,” Beyna said of the recruiting process, “but It will allow me to check in on him next year.”
Bryan brings solid offensive numbers to the Valpo Beacons. Consider these stats from last season alone: a .310 batting average, 28 hits, 1 homerun and a .474 on base percentage. Couple that with his impressive .985 fielding percentage as an infielder, mostly playing third base, and it appears he is ready to play at the college level.
He began his high school career playing for East Suburban League Hall of Fame Coach Mike Manno, who moved him up to varsity as an underclassman. Last year was his first season playing for Beyna.
“He has all the physical tools,” says Coach Terry Beyna. “He’s very passionate about baseball, a hard worker and he’ll do well at the next level.”
It sounds familiar. Both Beyna and Schmack had those same traits coming out of Rolling Meadows baseball, and it served them well at every level. Beyna formerly coached baseball for 20 years at Elk Grove High School, while Schmack just finished his 10th season as Valpo head coach.
“They play in a tough baseball conference, the Missouri Valley Conference,” Beyna said of the Valpo Beacons, “but Bryan is dedicated to the sport and will easily make the transition to the next level.”