I rarely get out to cover college sports.
Our staff at Pen City Current isn’t built for it and I’m not a fan of “dabbling” here and there.
There’s too much emotion in covering one kids’ college escapades but not another and it would take about six more of me.
But Saturday was a bit of a special day for a couple Fort Madison kids.
Jason and Vasin Thurman were part of the SCC men’s baseball team that punched its ticket to the NJCAA Division II World Series in Edin, Oklahoma starting May 27.
It’s the first time Head Coach Justin Schulte has taken a team to the World Series since 2014 when the Blackhawks went 1-2.
They did it with some late inning small ball and some solid relief pitching at Community Field in Burlington.
But the joy was watching the Thurman brothers play their roles in helping SCC come back in the best-of-three series with Williston State after splitting a doubleheader Friday.
Vasin had a single, that turned into a double on an error in left field, and laid down a sacrifice bunt that led to a run scored. He also scored a run to help push the Blackhawks to the 3-2 win.
After the win the Hawks piled onto the pitchers’ mound at Community Field and the celebration was on.
Buried deep in the pile were the former Bloodhounds.
The win was an emotional one for Schulte, whose father had passed away on Friday after a short illness.
“He had the best seat in the house,” Schulte with a nod to the sky after the game. “Even better than you guys had over there above the dugout.”
My view was spectacular. - through the 300-zoom on the Canon. Catching Vasin on just about every play nestled in at first and for all four at bats.
Jason didn’t get into the game as SCC didn’t need to go to closer Sam Skarich. Jason usually rotates into third base when Skarich is called in to slam the door.
But he was the first one in and out of the dugout between innings and was a vocal role player along with a gaggle of other players perched on the short fence lining the 3rd base dugout.
These kids who I followed around southeast Iowa while playing hoops or smacking tennis balls always give their best effort. They just know how to compete. And you never see just one without seeing the other.
Schulte may have said it best after the game when he said the two know the game of baseball.
“They’re about as athletic as that rake over,” Schulte said with a chuckle. “But those boys know how to play baseball. They’re winners and I like to surround myself with winners.
“Won a lot of games with those two boys on my teams.”
Schulte first started coaching Vasin and Jason when they played on the Junior Blackhawks at 12 years of age.
Eight years later here they are again – winning. Heading to Oklahoma to try and win a national championship.
Vasin was all business – as usual, patrolling the right side of the infield. He moved into the position after an injury sidelined the Blackhawks regular first baseman in April. He has made the most of this opportunity belting a couple solo home runs in the process.
Both Thurmans will be transferring to Mid America Christian University in Oklahoma City to finish their collegiate careers next year.
Schulte said the sophomores will be missed.
“We’re gonna miss them so much for their leadership. This team won’t be the same next year without those guys,” Schulte said.
Watching them both celebrating in the red and black took me back a couple years when they anchored the resurgent Bloodhounds under Head Coach Ron Walker, who’s close friends with Schulte.
Seeing Vasin coming off yelling, “Let’s goooo” made me think the past two years were more like two days. I’m sure their mother, who as always sat quietly in the stands behind dark sunglasses and a constant smile, feels that the past 12 years seem like a few days. She worked her way onto the field to join in the celebration.
She grabbed Jason first.
“You’re my favorite,” she said with a laugh, and then said the exact same to Vasin as he came in for his hug.
A quick vacation is now put on hold as she changes plans and will head to Edin for a week.
The boys are more than ready for the trip. In the post-game they both said it’s just another chance for them help a team win.
They’re uber-competitive and love to win. Whether on the tennis courts, the basketball courts, or the baseball fields, these kids want to win – because it’s fun.
That will probably be seen again this summer in the Hounds crimson and black as both will take on coaching responsibilities under new Bloodhound coach Albert Schinstock.
There’s just a feeling here that these boys are never going to be too far away, but wherever they are they’ll assuredly be steely-eyed to the win.
With the athleticism of a rake, you know they know the game – but that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current. He can be reached at email@example.com
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