Janesville Craig graduates Jack Blomgren and Evan Spry took a flight together Wednesday from Omaha, Nebraska, to Corvallis, Oregon.
Due to the circumstances, however, the 2017 graduates couldn’t laugh, share stories and have a good time during the flight.
Spry is a reserve infielder on the Creighton University baseball team. Blomgren is the starting shortstop on the University of Michigan baseball team.
Creighton plays Michigan in an NCAA Division I first-round game today at 3 p.m. (ESPN3) in the Corvallis Regional. The Wolverines flew from Ann Arbor to Omaha to pick up the Bluejays to help both schools cut travel costs to Oregon.
“Quiet flight,” Michigan baseball sports information director Kurt Svoboda said.
Spry confirmed that. The two former high school classmates did not talk.
“They were in the back,” Spry said of the Wolverines. “After the flight, we went straight to our buses. We texted a little bit, but didn’t really get a chance to talk.”
“Quiet” isn’t a term that can be used to describe Craig High’s contribution to this year’s NCAA baseball tournament.
Jacob Campbell, a 2018 Craig graduate, is the third former Cougar in the postseason. Campbell has been a regular starter at catcher for the University of Illinois, which is a No. 2 seed in the Oxford, Mississippi, regional.
The Illini play No. 3 seed Clemson in a first-round game today at 3 p.m. (ESPNU).
Blomgren has had the most success of the three this season.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore earned second-team all-Big Ten honors at shortstop.
Blomgren was third on the 41-18 Wolverines with a .310 average. His 41 RBI ranked fourth on the team. He scored 34 runs and had 63 hits, including eight doubles, two triples and three homers.
He reached base in 33 straight games at the end of the regular season.
Spry is a reserve on the 38-11 Bluejays team. He has four hits in 21 at-bats, including a double, with two RBI. He was a designated hitter and first baseman, but he is waiting for his turn.
“We have a really talented team this year,” Spry said of the Bluejays. “I really feel we can go far.”
Creighton wouldn’t have to worry about taking a plane to the College World Series if it qualifies. The CWS is held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, which is the Bluejays’ home field.
“It’s definitely our goal to get back there,” Spry said. “Just to show them what we’re made of.”
Campbell has had a successful first season at Illinois. One of four freshmen that start regularly for the Illini, Campbell had 19 hits, including four doubles and two homers, and drove in 11 runs.
More importantly to the 36-19 squad, Campbell caught a pitching staff that ranked 25th in the nation. He threw out five of the 21 runners attempting to steal.
Campbell said it was quite a transition to catch at the Big Ten level.
“It’s been a great experience,” Campbell said. “I think we have 18 seniors. It’s been great to learn from those guys.”
Only two of those 18 seniors have played in an NCAA Tournament game, illustrating what an accomplishment it is to have three Craig players in the event.
Campbell usually flip-flopped starting games with the Illini’s other catcher, senior Jeff Korte, who missed the last five games with an injury.
Korte is back, but Campbell will start today’s opening regional game to catch senior lefty Andy Fisher.
While Spry missed a chance to talk to former classmate Blomgren this week, Campbell and Blomgren got together on the field last Thursday during the Big Ten Tournament in ... TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
“I talked to him before the game, while he was in the box and after the game,” Campbell said. “It was fun.”
Blomgren took a rare 0-fer in the game, failing to get a hit in four at-bats, but Michigan pulled out a 5-4 victory.
“I probably had the best scouting report in the house,” Campbell said, chuckling.
And this summer, Campbell, Blomgren and Spry will have the upcoming tournament to talk—or at least text—about.
“We’ve grown up playing baseball with each other since we were 10 years old,” Spry said. “It’s good to see all of us having success. It’s awesome.”