Chris Wastchak had pretty much made up his mind, though the visit didn’t hurt.
Touring the University of Akron’s campus Wednesday and checking out the school’s various athletic fields, all of them pristine, the Peters Township graduate reiterated what he had been thinking for the past week: Akron was the place.
Wastchak, after not having a single NCAA Division I offer before Zips coach Rick Rembielak called to express his interest, was joining a big-time program.
“It hasn’t even all settled in yet,” said Wastchak, who orally committed to Akron Wednesday. “It’s like a dream come true. It’s what every kid who plays baseball wants to do one day.”
Listed at 5-11 and 200 pounds, Wastchak was in the process of finalizing everything to attend and play baseball at Mercyhurst.
Now, he’s hoping to boost a program that went 15-37 a season ago, including a 10-16 mark in the Mid-American Conference.
“Our first sight was this huge football stadium next to this monstrous field house,” Wastchak said. “We walked inside the field house, and it was incredible. They had a full track, full football field, full weight room, full baseball facility; you could do anything in there.
“Then we walked around the campus a little bit. They showed us the baseball field and sporting complexes. I liked it all.”
Wastchak had a slash line of .473/.561/.764 this past season. He led Peters Township with 21 RBI and three homers, tied for the team lead in doubles (five) and ranked second with 12 runs.
At first base, Wastchak made just two errors in a team-high 90 chances for Peters Township, which went 13-6 but missed the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.
He posted a 2-3 record with a 4.82 earned-run average as a pitcher, though he projects more as a hitter at the next level.
Wastchak plays summer baseball with the Astro Falcons of the Youngstown Class B League, a group that went 51-5 and won both the CABA 18-and-under World Series and NABF Senior World Series at Bob Cene Park in Struthers, Ohio last year.
Turns out his coach there – Andy Timko – was a teammate of Rembielak’s with the Baltimore Orioles, and that surely didn’t hurt with the recruiting process.
Neither did Wastchak’s performance on the field.
“I went 3-for-3 with five RBI the game Akron came and saw me, and the next day I got a call from them,” Wastchak said, “That got the ball rolling.”
There was, of course, Mercyhurst, which has finished first in the PSAC West in four of their five seasons in the conference.
Yet when Wastchak got a surprise phone call from Akron, one that all of a sudden made him a Division I recruit, well, that was just too good to pass up.
“It was rough because I always wanted to be one,” Wastchak said. “Going Division II, I thought, ‘Oh, I came so close.’ To now have it, words can’t describe it right now.”