Eureka College baseball

Tom Batters
Nick Eeten

When asked to look back on their careers at Eureka College, Metamora High School graduate Tyler Glaub and Eureka High School graduate Nick Eeten said they will miss one part of Red Devil baseball the most.

Craig Gerdes.

Gerdes, a former standout basketball player at Eureka College, who coached baseball, basketball and track at Eureka Middle School for more than 30 years, was named baseball coach for the Red Devils prior to this season.

In just one season, he left an indelible impression on Eeten and Glaub.

“He’s the best,” Glaub said. “He cares so much about the players, and everybody loves playing for him.”

Eeten, who played for Gerdes in seventh and eighth grade, said, this year Gerdes made the game fun and instilled confidence, which was lacking after a 6-22-1 record last year.

“I think he was more intense back in middle school,” Eeten said. “He has mellowed a little since then. Everything about him is positive. He’ll get on us when he has to, but he sees the bright side in everything.”

Gerdes has guided the Red Devils to a 10-10 record this season. They have a one-game lead over Principia for the final SLIAC Conference tournament berth with four league games remaining.

He said Glaub and Eeten, along with fellow seniors Clay McConkey and Andy Hudec, made his first season a memorable one.

“Tyler and Nick are similar players. They are solid hitters who also pitch a lot for us,” Gerdes said. “They are both the type of player that a coach loves to have because they can help the team in so many ways.”

Glaub entered the season as the active leader in batting average, runs, hits, RBIs, stolen bases and several other categories. When he is not starting at shortstop, he is one of the top pitchers in the starting rotation.

“Most teams will use a designated hitter for their pitcher, but we have Tyler hit all the time, even when he is pitching,” Gerdes said. “He’s in such good shape, it doesn’t affect his pitching. He runs the bases really well, and he is still able to go right back out there and pitch effectively.”

Eeten also stays in the lineup, even when he is pitching. In an 8-7 win over Westminster last week, Eeten pitched the final three innings, allowing no runs and only one hit to pick up his third victory of the season.

Eeten played at Illinois Central College for two years before transferring to Eureka College. He said it has been fun to play close to home.

“It’s nice that my parents can come to the home games, and I can be around a lot of the guys I played with in high school,” he said.

Glaub said he was not aware that he led the team in so many categories, and he didn’t think it was too important.

“It's a team sport. I’ve had great teammates here, and I’ve had fun playing on this team,” he said. “We went from just five wins my freshman year to where we are now. That means more to me than any personal statistics.”