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Aurora University freshman stars at plate and as "Shota Boy" at Wrigley Field

Aurora University freshman stars at plate and as "Shota Boy" at Wrigley Field
Aurora University freshman stars at plate and as "Shota Boy" at Wrigley Field 03:07

AURORA, Ill. (CBS) – The Aurora University baseball team had another great season come to an end earlier this week and it was a standout year for one of their new players.

Aurora finished its sixth straight season with 30-plus wins. One of the new faces that contributed to the team's 34 wins this season was Joe Lukancic. The freshman stood out at the plate and in the bleachers at Wrigley Field while attending a Cubs game with friends.

Lukancic's first season at Aurora University was nothing short of impressive. The right fielder is the Division III leader in hits and was named the Nothern Athletics Collegiate Conference Freshman of the Year.

"You can never expect that of any player, let alone a freshman," said head coach Adam Stevens. "It's very hard in our program to play as a freshman. It doesn't happen very often, and just from the first day this fall, it was very apparent that Joe was going to be a player for us."

The lefty hitter's consistency quickly led to him earning a few nicknames.

"Yeah, 'The Freak,' 'Ichi Joe,' because I bat like Ichiro [Suzuki] and now I'm 'Joe-ta' because of Shota," he said. "It's just funny going into the batter's box and then having, 'Let's go Joe-ta!' and stuff like that. It's fun."

Lucancic is a Joliet West graduate. He grew up a Cubs fan and frequently attends games with some of his friends from high school. This season, they thought of a way to support new Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga by spelling out his name across their chests, but they didn't anticipate what would happen next.

"We were just expecting Shota to see us, which he did during his bullpen," Lukancic said. "He tossed up baseball to us, so that was cool obviously. We were on Marquee [Network]. We got to go meet him. Joe from Obvious Shirts, he made shirts for us. That was awesome. Shota gave us those, and yeah since then, it's been the 'Shota Boys.' That's our new tag.

Stevens added, "The next day at practice, 'Hey coach, did you hear about Joe?' I was like, 'I don't know where that's going. No.' They showed me pictures. I am a Cub fan. I just didn't watch the game that day, and they showed me pictures, and I asked Joe about it and we were kind of giving him a little grief about it. I think he goes to a lot of Cubs games in the bleachers in the summer, with his friends. They did it that day. The only thing I said to him was 'I hope you didn't have any homework.'"

The future looks bright for Lukancic's career both as a Spartan and a "Shota Boy." His current teammates are even willing to step up if and when a letter is called.

"Oh yeah, anytime I just grab one of them, hopefully just say, 'We have to replace somebody. We'll do it,'" Lukancic said. "It's just supporting Shota."

Radio stations in Japan have even reached out to interview Lukancic about the Shota Boys. While he is fully embracing the newfound attention off the field, his main priority will be on helping the Spartans.

"I came here because the success they've had in the past. They love to win so that was a big part," he said. "Obviously, we all challenge each other here, and that's the best part about it. It's not just me having success but the whole team."

Lukancic finished the season with a .447 batting average. He said he and his friends will try to catch every game Shota pitches this summer.

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