Austin Blaski is dreaming of one day pitching in the major leagues.
The Marietta College ace right-hander, who helped the Pioneers repeat as NCAA Division III national champions, has an excellent chance of doing so if Etta Express baseball history is any indication.
Of the more than 40 Pioneers who have gone on to play professional baseball, a majority of them have been hurlers. Not all of them reached the Bigs, but guys like Kent Tekulve, Duane Theiss, Terry Mulholland, and Matt DeSalvo did.
The 21-year-old Blaski, a recent 21st-round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, naturally is hoping to be the next one, along with Mike DeMark (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Mark Williams (Milwaukee Brewers), who are currently throwing in the minor leagues.
Even though Blaski, an All-American and pretty much all-everything, was the 665th overall pick in the draft, he will get an opportunity to show his wares.
At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Blaski has the tall, lanky build for a pitcher. And, he also has the arm - and a live one at that.
Blaski probably doesn't throw as hard as DeSalvo or even Williams, but he's fast enough as he fanned a team-high 115 in 110 innings in his senior season. He of course also has other pitches in his repertoire.
Interestingly, Blaski - who played his prep baseball at Pandora-Gilboa in northwest Ohio - almost didn't enroll at Marietta. He was actually going to Heidelberg University in nearby Tiffin until his high school mentor Larry McCullough intervened and directed him to southeast Ohio.
McCullough played for the Don Schaly-coached Pioneers 20-some years ago.
When Blaski arrived on the MC campus as a freshman, he was a shortstop, and also playing the position was a guy by the name of Tim Saunders.
Well, you know the rest of the story as Blaski was converted into a pitcher by the Pioneer coaching staff, and Saunders...well, he recently was drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
Blaski did not become a Pioneer ace overnight. He had to learn and work at it, thanks to the Pioneer coaching staff.
In his frosh campaign, he threw in only 15-plus innings, compiling a 1-0 mark with a 6.89 ERA.
Better days were ahead as Blaski was 9-4 with a 3.18 ERA in his sophomore season. Last year, he was 12-2 with 1.62 ERA, but more importantly, the Pioneers won the World Series.
Guess who was the MVP of that 2011 event in Wisconsin?
Blaski of course.
Capping off his collegiate career, Blaski became the best D3 pitcher in the land, compiling a sterling 13-1 record with a 1.23 ERA. The Pioneers as a team also won another World Series.
As good as Marietta's pitching staff was, it's still hard to imagine the Etta Express repeating as national champions without Blaski on the hill.
Anyways, the Milwaukee Brewers were all along apparently keeping notes on Blaski.
They, I think, won't regret their decision.
Now, Blaski will get his shot.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org