MCC infielder makes plans to play at Lindsey Wilson College

They were opponents on the diamond last weekend.

By Monday, it was clear the Tiger-Falcon rivalry doesn’t exist beyond the field.

Receiving a recommendation from Indian Hills assistant coach Brett Monaghan, Marshalltown Community College sophomore Daryl Blaskovich signed his National Letter of Intent Monday to continue his baseball career at Lindsey Wilson College, an NAIA school in Columbia, Ky.

The Falcons got the best of the Tigers Saturday and Sunday by claiming three of four games, but Blaskovich still came out a winner as Monaghan helped match up the shortstop with his next venture on the basepaths.

“They’re a good program and it sounded like a good fit,” Blaskovich said. “(Monaghan) is the one that kind of mentioned my name to them. I’m grateful for that. Their center fielder (Edgar Lebron) is going to play there and they’ve sent a couple guys there in the past so it sounds like a good place to go, I’m excited.”

The Brentwood Bay, Victoria, Canada, native chose Lindsey Wilson over the University of Illinois Springfield, noting the warmer weather as one factor he considered.

And it didn’t hurt the Blue Devils’ chances that Monaghan, a former assistant on the MCC staff, had a connection with Lindsey Wilson coach Jonathan Burton.

“The head coach down there is a friend and he calls me often about players,” Monaghan said of Burton. “We see these kids eight times a year. Daryl is a good player, he plays hard all the time and you appreciate that as an opposing coach.

“At the end of the day I don’t care if he’s playing for us or someone else. You just try and give kids a hand, that’s what I’m in this business for.”

Blaskovich has helped his own cause at the plate and currently leads the Tigers in hits (46) and batting average (.309) as they enter the NJCAA Region XI Division I Baseball Tournament in Centerville Saturday and Sunday.

The 5-foot-10 right-hander also ranks among MCC’s top five in several other categories with 25 runs scored, nine doubles, five stolen bases, three home runs and 22 RBIs in addition to a .355 on-base percentage and .430 slugging percentage.

About the only thing that has slowed the shortstop is a nagging hamstring injury that first sprang up in his final season at Lambrick Park Secondary School. Though it has rarely stopped the two-year standout from contributing at the plate and in the field.

“He’s second to none, he’s one of the best we’ve ever had,” MCC coach Rich Grife said. “He’s been banged up all year but he’s played through it for the most part.”

Blaskovich has posted a .902 fielding percentage and turned 19 double plays at shortstop this year after serving as the Tigers’ second baseman in his freshman campaign. He garnered second-team all-region honors in 2013 after racking up 39 RBIs – third best in the ICCAC – while also finishing among the league’s top-10 in hits (49), runs (41) and doubles (10).

“He’s been a solid player for two years, he can play anywhere in the infield,” Grife said. “They’re getting a good student, a great kid and a very good player.”

The athletic training major was recognized on the academic all-region first team in 2013 and joins Indian Hills pitcher Aaron Doubty and Lebron as incoming freshman at Columbia. The current Blue Devil roster also features four other Falcon alums.

While Burton didn’t have the opportunity to see Blaskovich in person, the recommendations of Monaghan and MCC assistant Chris Beall raised his awareness. The sophomore’s highlight video took care of the rest.

“I saw the tools and the mechanics of what he does well and I knew immediately that he was going to be able to help our team get better,” Burton said. “He’s very athletic. He’s not just set on playing one position, he can play a couple different spots. You like versatility with your players because you know you’re going to have injuries and you want an athletic team that’s able to fill a lot of different roles.”

While Blaskovich could man multiple positions, he’ll start fall practice at his favorite – shortstop.

Burton reset the school record for wins in each of his first two seasons with 43 in 2012 and 45 in 2013. The Blue Devils claimed a Mid-South Conference title in Burton’s first year and an MSC Tournament title in his second, while making the school’s first-ever NAIA National Tournament appearances in both campaigns.

After last year’s 26-29 record and 12-14 mark in the MSC, Burton is hopeful Blaskovich will be one of the pieces in helping a Lindsey Wilson resurgence. He shared that belief with the Tiger standout and Blaskovich was right on board with putting the work in to get the program back atop the MSC.

“I know Daryl has those same kind of visions, he’s going to have that same kind of work ethic to help us get back to the top next year,” Burton said. “I’m very eager to get started and really looking forward to working with him. He’s a very good talent for us to have.”