DeMers, Young quickly form bond

Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Drew DeMers, a college baseball player from South Dakota, poses at The Messenger. DeMers is playing for the newly-formed Fort Dodge Gypsum Miners this summer in the Pioneer Collegiate Baseball League. Their home will be Patterson Field.

It didn’t take long for Fort Dodge Gypsum Miner teammates Drew DeMers and Jamie Young to get to know each other prior to the start of the Pioneer Collegiate Baseball League.

On just his second day in Fort Dodge, DeMers, from Winner, South Dakota, was introduced to Young, a native of Melbourne, Australia.

“I had to give him a ride home from practice,” DeMers said. “I was the only one with a car.”

The PCBL consists of players from different colleges around the country. The players are staying with host families during the summer.

League play began June 1.

DeMers and Young quickly became friends from practicing, traveling, and playing on the diamond together.

“Drew has a really good personality,” Young said. “He’s very fun. He makes the team enjoyable to be around.”

The two also learned they have a mutual friend.

“We have an Austrialian on our college team (Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota) who knows Jamie,” DeMers said. “It’s a small world.”

Young, a 19-year-old first baseman, said the team has continued to build its chemistry.

“You get to know everyone, playing with them every day and it helps to know how each other plays and what it takes to win,” Young said.

In terms of winning, the Miners have been doing more of that as of late. The team lifted its season record to 5-5 by taking their last two games against the Albert Lea Lakers.

On Wednesday, the Miners traveled to Albert Lea and won by a score of 6-1. Then on Thursday, the Miners returned to Patterson Field and won again by the exact same score of 6-1.

DeMers played left field and batted eighth on Wednesday.

In the third inning of that game, DeMers stepped to the plate with shortstop Adam Thompson on first base.

The first pitch in that sequence was a curveball in the dirt. The ball richoceted off the catcher and Thompson was able to advance to third base on the play.

On the next pitch, DeMers turned on an inside fastball and slapped it down the third base line for an RBI single.

On Thursday, Kavan Crowell pitched a complete game for the Miners, giving up just one earned run.

Young said the best moment of the season was winning that first game as a team against the Storm Lake Whitecaps on June 5.

“Everyone hit throughout the order and we pitched well,” Young said. “Just seeing how well we can play together.”

Young homered in that game.

He said the league has been competitive.

“All of the teams come out and want to win every day,” Young said. “That makes it an enjoyable environment to play in.”

Young said the game of baseball is in his blood.

“I have been around baseball since I was three years old,” he said. “My two older brothers have played their whole lives. It’s a team sport and you get to meet a lot of new people. I’ve managed to have a lot of fun with it.”

Young said it’s been a positive experience being in the Fort Dodge community.

“I’ve really liked everything,” he said. “There’s a lot of lovely people around who go out of their way to say hello. It makes it enjoyable to be here and play baseball here.”

His favorite Fort Dodge restaurant is Sports Page Bar and Grill.

“They have really good burgers there,” he said.

At the end of the PCBL season, Young will return to Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill., where he is studying physical education.

The Miners hit the field again tonight at Patterson Field to play the Storm Lake Whitecaps. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.

*Editor’s note: This series follows the on and off the field experiences of Drew DeMers, a college baseball player. DeMers is playing the outfield for the Fort Dodge Gypsum Miners this summer at Patterson Field. He will also be volunteering in various ways throughout the city. DeMers is staying with staff writer Chad Thompson at his home in Fort Dodge. This series will run every Saturday until the end of the season.