JUCO World Series title a dream come true for Pascal Paul
Playing baseball in the backyard, children can dream impossible dreams, bordering on the ridiculous.
Fantasies such as winning nearly every game, pitching in front of more than 10,000 fans, and winning a World Series.
But wait, that’s exactly what happened recently for MHS alumnus Pascal Paul. His Iowa Western Reivers baseball team posted a mind-boggling 62-6 record on the way to a second Junior College (JUCO) World Series title in three years.
Paul pitched three innings of two-hit ball in the championship game, a 6-5 triumph over San Jacinto, Tex., the same team IWU beat for the title in 2010. The JUCO World Series was held in Grand Junction, Colo., from May 26-June 2 this year.
“It’s unbelievable, indescribable… something I’ll never forget,” Paul said. “It was everything I dreamed it would be. Pitching with 12,000 people watching me. It was pretty sweet.
“I worked my whole life to pitch in a game like that. It was nice to have it pay off and help the team win.”
Paul appeared twice in the series, first closing out a 4-1 second-round win over Spartanburg, S.C., when the Reivers had their backs pressed firmly to the wall. They had lost a 5-2 opener to San Jacinto, and another defeat would have ended their chances and counterfeited the hyper-successful season.
Pascal watched from the bench as his team reeled off three consecutive victories, following a 6-4 nail-biter with 14-1 and 10-0 blow-outs.
That pushed WIU to the championship game with San Jacinto, where Paul pitched three innings of middle relief.
He gave up one hit in the fourth, but ended it with a fly ball and two strike-outs. Paul struck out the side in the fifth-the last two batters looking-then worked the trifecta in the sixth with a ground-out, strike-out and fly ball.
“I pitched well,” Paul said. “The first three innings I didn’t give up any runs and I had 6-7 K’s.”
He returned for the seventh, but after a led-off single and hit batter, his manager signaled a quick change.
As a sophomore, Paul used up his eligibility with IWU, but he had a year to remember.
“It was an unbelievable season,” he said. “We had a very good team. We have like 14 guys transferring to D1, and three guys drafted.”
Which brings up Pascal’s future. One thing is for sure, he has options.
“I just got back from a visit to George Mason University in Washington, D.C., and the Univeristy of West Virginia and Indiana State are coming to watch me in Milwaukee,” he said. “Also, the University of Illinois at Chicago, is interested.”
MHS alum Alex Grunenwald just posted a solid season for UI-Chicago, so a reunion season could happen if Paul would choose to go in that direction.
“I don’t know yet,” Paul said of the process. “I’ll know more after this weekend and make a decision. I should know by next week or next weekend some time.”
What Paul offers his suitors is a package of four pitches-a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a slider and a change.
“The two-seam fastball and the slider are my ‘out’ pitches,” Paul said. “I can throw my fastball from 88-to-90 (mph).
“Those are probably all I’ll have for my career. Now it comes down to fine-tuning them, and making sure I can get them over the plate in any count.”
Paul will get some work on his pitching on a temporary contract for the Wisconsin Woodchucks this summer. He has already pitched twice, and is slated to pitch again today (June 20) against the Lakeshore Chinooks at Concordia Univ., in Mequon (N. of Milwaukee).
That stint has created another reunion, with former Bluejy Zach Wendorf, who plays for UW-Stevens Point, a power at the NCAA DIII level.
“It’s fun pitching for the Woodchucks,” Paul said. “It’s something I always wanted to do growing up, watching people that I knew. It’s been a year since Zach and I pitched together and talked, so that’s been nice.”
A replay of the championship game can be viewed online at www.ihigh.com/njcaatv/broadcast_224009.html?silverlight=1.