A significantly successful high school baseball season in Ohio would be achieved by reaching 20 wins. Assuming a coach could pull that off for 20 straight years, that would be 400 victories, a very notable achievement.
Then, all you would need is 100 more victories to reach 500, which is where longtime baseball coach Jack Kuzniczci is at Walnut Hills. Oh yeah, throw in a couple of seasons off after he stepped down at Madeira to watch his son Cody play in college.
Then there's the lost season of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, Kuzniczci has reached a major milestone that will place him among Ohio's career leaders.
It took place Saturday, as win No. 500 came against Sycamore. The Eagles avenged an early-season loss to the Aviators, 9-1. Robby Walters threw a complete game and Colin Miller drilled a grand slam.
"It just means I've done it for a long time," Kuzniczci said. "I've had a lot of good players. good people and good parents. 500 is a number. Other people have done it. It's a lot of wins, I know that!"
Kuzniczci now joins an elite group that included Cincinnati Country Day's Tim Dunn at 516, St. Bernard-Elmwood Place's Bruce Bagley at 555, Moeller's Mike Cameron at 767 and the all-time local leader Mason's Ken Gray who won 768 in 40 years between 1973-2013.
Moeller's Cameron actually hung around and coached junior varsity ball for the Crusaders after handing over the reins to Tim Held.
Kuzniczci won't be doing that. He's packing the bags and heading west. After spending time in Buckeye, Arizona (outside of Phoenix and near where the Reds have spring training in Goodyear) Jack and his wife Kelly enjoyed the climate and trails enough to have a home built.
"I've always hated the winters in Cincinnati," Kuzniczci said. "I'll be one exit away from the Reds when they're in spring training. The weather is just beautiful. I can't wait to get 65-70 degree days in the wintertime so I can exercise and do those kinds of things."
His wife has secured a job and Jack will be near Surprise, Arizona, the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals. That's where the best player he ever coached is in February and March.
Kuzniczci was not only blessed to coach his son Cody for four years at Madeira, but also Andrew Benintendi, a four-year phenom in baseball and basketball for the Mustangs. Both of those players led Madeira to a 2011 state runner-up finish and Benintendi went on to crush hitting records and become college baseball's best player at Arkansas.
He then went on to be a first-round pick for the Red Sox and later helped them to a World Series title. Traded to Kansas City in the offseason, "Benny Baseball" will be about a 35-minute drive from "Coach K".
Oddly enough, Benintendi's basketball coach at Madeira also retired and went to Arizona. Jim Reynolds got the coaching bug again in the Tucson area and actually won an Arizona state championship in 2020 prior to COVID-19 shutting all sports down.
Kuzniczci won't rule out a return out west but is currently more focused on finding good hiking trails when he moves.
"I don't know," he said. "I might see what I can do. I may try to volunteer assist or something like that. I don't know if want to work full-time anymore. I might find a job on a golf course and play some golf. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Before coaching, Kuzniczci was a successful player at Anderson High School, then the University of Cincinnati. Professionally, he was able to spend some time in the Montreal Expos organization. Away from high school, he coached for several successful organizations during the summer (Hurricanes, Midland, CBC) and gave countless lessons over the years to young hitters of all ages.
Kuzniczci's wins are spread out over two seasons at Clermont Northeastern, 21 at Madeira and the last six at Walnut Hills. Overall, he's won eight league titles, eight district titles, with four state semifinal appearances, including one state runner-up finish and a state title in 1999.
Much like some football coaches that recollect plays in games from years gone by, Kuzniczci can tell you about all of his milestone wins.
No.1: "It was against Georgetown. Steve Henderson had a big hit. We (CNE at the time) won 8-5."
No. 100: "It was Finneytown at our place (Madeira). Kenny Fields pitched a great game. We beat them 7-0."
No. 200: "We beat Wyoming. We had one of our players pouting. I put in a second-team guy. We were losing by two runs in the last inning. He came up and hit a little dribbler to first. He hustled down the line and they threw the ball by the pitcher covering. Two runs scored and we ended up winning the game."
No. 300: "It was against Mariemont at home. My son (Cody) was a freshman on that team."
No. 400: "It was down in Myrtle Beach and Andrew Benintendi was a senior that year (2013). It's been a long time since 400."
No. 500 came during a week where Walnut Hills squeezed in seven games. After beating Sycamore in the afternoon, the Eagles still had a 7 p.m. Saturday game on the last day of the regular season.
Kuzniczci calls this year's Walnut Hills team the best he's had in his time with the Eagles. They finished tied for third in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference with Anderson, but swept the season series from ECC champs Turpin and split with second-place Kings.
The Eagles also defeated Miami Valley Conference-Scarlet Division champions Cincinnati Country Day in non-conference play and walloped Elder of the Greater Catholic League-South on their own field on Senior Day, 14-2.
"(t's a great group of kids," Kuzniczci said. "It's been a real special year so far."
Walnut plays Edgewood in the first round of the state playoffs Tuesday. Should they win, they would be shooting for their first-ever second-round playoff win. Their opponent would be the Kings/Loveland winner so they will have some familiarity and confidence having defeated both squads during the season.