May 6, 2024

Corn Dogs Bring Back Stars, Add Fresh Talent for 2024 Season

By Noel Fary

The Lake County Corn Dogs are set to begin their 2024 season, with a roster featuring new, exciting talent, along with some familiar faces.

Following a 2023 season filled with accolades, records and awards, the Corn Dogs look to retain nine players, all of whom contributed to their trip to the league championship series last year.

Corn Dogs returners for the 2024 season

Matt Santana is back as catcher and was a standout on offense and defense last season. He will be looking to make the jump to Division I baseball after his junior college stint.

“Mr. Corn Dog” Tyler Schultz is back for a third season and looks to remain an iron man at shortstop.

Following an All-Northern League campaign in 2023, Owen Winters is set to make his return. Winters plays at Purdue University Northwest, a school featuring a lot of current and past Corn Dogs players.

Adam Walters, the two-way wonder, comes back to the team following an all-star performance in 2023. Walters contributes heavily on both sides of the ball and offers a lot of athleticism.

Pitcher Jake Thometz is another returner who has been with the team from the start. The southpaw is a strong option on the mound who has been featured as a starter, reliever and closer.

Starting pitcher Eric Santaguida, a Crown Point native, is back for another season on the mound. And Gavin Gallagher is back and ready to wreak havoc on the mound once again. An all-star in 2023, Gallagher is a great option to throw at any point.

Austin Pizer looks to return to Lake County currently on a tear at Benedictine University. The experienced righty boasts a 1.93 ERA, a 4-1 record, with 29 strikeouts to just 7 walks on the season. Chris Bachman is another hyper-talented lefty that’s back for another season. Currently playing at St. Xavier University, Bachman looks to be a difference maker this year as well.

Now in their third season, the Corn Dogs look to improve and grow as a franchise and team. Corn Dogs Majority Owner Ralph Flores believes this team might be the most talented yet.

“We’ve had very good teams our first two years, but I think this year’s team could possibly exceed those ball clubs,” Flores said. “The team from our inaugural championship season would be hard to beat, but if it all comes together this roster may be even better. We will be playing new teams this season and expect elevated competition, but I believe we will be hard to beat.”

New Corn Dogs expected to make big contributions

The 2024 Lake County Corn Dogs roster features 21 new players all looking to make some noise in Crown Point.

Joey Russo, a Chicago native, is coming off a freshman season at Morton Community College, where he hit over .300 as a starter. Colin Horneman, a current player at Lincoln Trail High School, is hitting .321, and committed to Division I Eastern Illinois earlier this year. He looks to be a contributor behind the plate.

Robert Tate Jr. is a standout freshman at Jackson State where he starts at shortstop. Tate Jr. currently hits .375 with a .521 on-base percentage. Christian Holmes is geared to have a great season with the Corn Dogs. Holmes offers Division I experience, having played at Kansas State before his current school South Suburban College.

Blake Sabau is another Crown Point native returning home this summer. Sabau currently plays for Spalding University and offers great defense and strong hitting.

John Connors, from Mokena, Illinois, offers a lot of power as a left-handed-hitting corner infielder. He currently plays at John A. Logan. Tyler Stewart is one of the many Corn Dogs players who currently play at South Suburban College. His athleticism will certainly be on display with Lake County.

Denham Kozy is set to return to Lake County after missing the 2023 season due to injury. Kozy is a graduate of Munster High School and is making a name for himself at John A Logan.

Billy Jones plays alongside multiple past and present Corn Dogs at Purdue University Northwest. Jones boasts six extra base hits this season and offers a lot of speed on the base paths with 8 stolen bases.

Jason Ballard is a versatile player who can be placed in any spot in the outfield and thrive. He also plays at South Suburban College and offers a great bat. Luke Diekmann looks to be the next standout two-way player for the Corn Dogs. Diekman plays for Wabash Valley and has plenty of velocity on the mound.

Collin Cirks is a current senior at Lake Central High School, a school that has produced numerous Corn Dogs players. Cirks is committed to play at Parkland College. Jackson Peeler is a standout freshman closer for Kankakee Community College. Peeler currently pitches with a 0.83 ERA and holds 8 saves on the season.

Luka Zakman is a pitcher for South Suburban College. He currently boasts a 2.43 ERA and 30 strikeouts on the season. Josh Warn, also South Suburban Bulldog, offers another lefty arm for the Corn Dogs Warn looks to be a big contributor in a great Corn Dogs pitching attack.

Blake Newell is a Crown Point native and plays for the Purdue Northwest. Newell has 23 strikeouts on the season. Garrett Benko is a graduate of Andrean High School and now pitches for St. Xavier alongside fellow newcomer Chris Bachman.

Aslyn Farinelli is a current senior at Crown Point High School looking forward to a summer at home with the Corn Dogs. Farinelli is committed to Ohio Northern University where he looks to contribute as a two-way player. Joey Merrick is a graduate of Hammond Central High School and now pitchers for South Suburban. Merrick looks to be a nice contributor out of the bullpen for the Corn Dogs.

Carter Green is a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School and is now pitching for Wabash Valley. The hard-throwing left hander will come out of the pen and see some time in the outfield. Kevin Corcoran is a graduate of Illiana Christian High School where he led the team to a State Championship in 2023. Corcoran will be a two-way player for the Corn Dogs this season.

With new faces on the roster also comes new opponents for the 2024 season. The team will “Mustard Up” against some elevated competition this season, now playing teams from the Crestwood Collegiate Legue and Chicago Suburban League.

The 2024 season is shaping up to be the best yet for the Lake County Corn Dogs. With new and returning talent, exciting opponents, great nights of exciting baseball are ahead at Legacy Fields in Crown Point.

The Corn Dogs open their season with a three-game home series against Muskies, Beavers and Thunder, May 23-25. Purchase your tickets at


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