Baseball: Ryan Sloan, York hold high hopes in return to IHSA state tournament

Projected first-round draft pick leads talented pitching staff for 31-win Dukes

York's Ryan Sloan (26) delivers a 98 mile an hour pitch against McHenry during a Class 4A Kane County supersectional baseball game at Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva in June 2024.

Ryan Sloan does not require a history lesson on York’s last state baseball championship.

His dad covered that.

David Sloan, the father of York’s fireballing senior pitcher, was a starter on York’s 1993 Class AA state title team.

“We drive past Geneva [previously the state tournament host] every once in a while and he gets the ‘1993 state champs’ line out,” Ryan Sloan said. “I get a good remembrance of it.”

Sloan and the Dukes hope to make their own history this weekend.

York, fourth in Class 4A last season, is making its second consecutive trip to the state baseball tournament for the first time in school history.

The Dukes (31-9), who won titles in 1960 and 1993 in the program’s only other state appearances, face Conant (29-7) in a Class 4A semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Joliet’s Duly Health and Care Field. Two-time defending champion Edwardsville (31-8) meets Providence (31-8) in the first semifinal.

Sloan, a strapping 6-foot-4, 225-pound Wake Forest commit and the 18th-ranked prospect in the July MLB Draft by, is a big reason why York could be playing for a state title Saturday night.

He was kept on a reduced pitch count through the end of April with his pending draft status. But Sloan pitched an eight-inning complete game in York’s sectional semifinal win, and struck out three batters in 15 pitches of relief in Monday’s supersectional win over McHenry.

Sloan, who hit 99 mph on the gun Monday, is lined up to throw York’s semifinal game Friday.

“I had a good plan throughout the season to where I can be confident going a full game and not be tired and not risk injury,” Sloan said. “I warmed up slowly, throwing only two innings, but in the playoffs there’s been no leash. The last game I came in to close was my bullpen day.”

Sloan, 2-2 with 82 strikeouts and only one earned run allowed over 40 innings this spring, is the headliner. But York can be confident throwing any of its top pitchers out there.

Senior left-hander Noah Hughes, who tossed six scoreless innings in a 2-0 sectional final shutout of St. Charles North, is 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA and is lined up to start Saturday. Illinois State commit Chris Danko is 6-2 with a 2.23 ERA, and threw 5⅔ innings in Monday’s start.

“Whoever you throw out there, we have a chance,” Sloan said. “In the state playoffs all you need is 2-3 pitchers to make a run and that’s what we have shown. The bats put up a couple runs and we’re good.”

Sloan did not throw for York at last year’s state tournament, but looks forward to the prospect of toeing the rubber this weekend.

“That would be super cool to throw in a big game like that,” he said. “I love huge games. I think I thrive under the pressure and big lights.”

York's Chris Danko (19) delivers a pitch against McHenry during a class 4A Kane County supersectional baseball game at Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva on Monday, June 3, 2024.

Sloan and Danko both said getting swept by Lyons in a three-game series April 15-18 was a turning point this season. The Dukes won five straight games after that, and took two out of three from eventual West Suburban Silver champ Downers Grove North.

“[York] coach [Dave] Kalal really nailed on us how embarrassing it was, and shouldn’t happen. From there we stepped it up a notch,” Danko said. “Our main downfall in that series was our errors in the field and hitting. We had a lot of strikeouts and unearned runs, like 18 of their 20 runs were unearned. Right after that series we cleaned things up.”

Sloan, Hughes and Danko are three of York’s nine seniors, but juniors make up a big part of the lineup. Junior Josh Fleming is hitting .352 with 11 doubles, four homers and 28 runs batted in, all team-highs.

“I feel like we have all the pieces in the puzzle to get the job done,” Danko said. “From the preseason our goal was to get back to where we were. Now that we are we want to get to the next level of the state championship. In all honesty, this is the year that we feel that we can do it.”

On the other side, Conant is making its first state tournament appearance and comes in winners of 13 in a row. Dartmouth commit Bryce Loeger, 11-0 with a 1.00 ERA, was the winning pitcher in Monday’s 6-1 supersectional win over Glenbrook North.

Senior catcher Jake Parpet, committed to defending JUCO national champion Heartland, is batting .427 with 12 doubles, eight homers and 47 runs scored. Senior left fielder Matt Maize is batting .393 with 13 doubles and 35 RBIs, and homered in both sectional wins.

“We are here now to make a statement,” Danko said. “Everybody believes, coach believes in us, our town and community is supporting us. Everybody has the feeling that we can do this.”

Joshua  Welge

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.