By RYAN CZACHORSKI Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Kaskaskia College’s baseball team has reached heights they’ve never seen before, and two local players are along for the ride.
Effingham’s Nick Gardewine and Teutopolis’ Brandon Hemmen are two of the players for Kaskaskia that will begin play in the NJCAA Division I World Series for the first time ever this afternoon.
It will most likely be Gardewine taking the mound with the ball in the series opener for the Blue Devils.
“From what I’ve understood, I’ll probably throw the first game,” Gardewine said. “I’m the one that’s on the most rest right now.”
If it’s based on merit, it will definitely be the Effingham alumnus.
Gardewine leads the team in wins (9), games started (12), innings pitched (81), strikeouts (79) and earned run average (1.67) for the season.
He has developed into the staff ace, pitching his way to a perfect 9-0 record for the 39-10 Blue Devils.
“I’ve been really successful this season, this is my most successful season both individually and team-wise,” he said.
Kaskaskia opens play at 1 p.m. today, facing off with Midland College (Texas). If they win, they’ll play again at 8:30 p.m. Monday, and will play at 11 a.m. Sunday if they lose in the double elimination tournament.
Hemmen hasn’t seen the kind of playing time Gardewine’s seen, as the freshman catcher is blocked by two other catchers who have split time behind the plate. Hemmen has gone 1-for-6 with a hit by pitch this season in five games.
The Blue Devils qualified for the NJCAA World Series by downing Rend Lake, and then besting Wabash Valley four times over the Region 24 tournament and the district championship.
The pitching staff, even outside of Gardewine, has been fantastic all year long, and Gardewine knows why he and his fellow hurlers have seen the success they have.
“It’s a special experience,” he said. “I couldn’t have expected a better team to work with, our defense is so solid. Every time they hit the ball, I don’t have a worry in the world.”
The tournament begins today and last for a week. To follow along with how the Blue Devils are doing, visit www.njcaa.org.