NORMAL — Nick Gile is putting his first Illinois State baseball season further and further in the rear view mirror and suddenly has a much rosier outlook on his future as a Redbird.
That transformation has occurred at the Corn Crib in the Kernels Collegiate League, where Gile has been a menace to opposing pitchers as a member of the Bobcats.
“I had a lot of time to reflect on the past season of college ball,” Gile said. “I’ve been able to address a lot of things I thought stood in my way this past season. I definitely had a lot of high expectations for myself. All I can do at this point is learn from this past season.”
After batting .206 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 48 games for the Redbirds this spring, Gile’s bat has heated up with the weather.
The 6-foot, 210-pounder comfortably leads the KCL in batting average (.471), on-base percentage (.551), slugging percentage (.694) and RBIs (23) after smacking two home runs and driving home three in an 11-3 Bobcats’ win over the Ground Sloths on Friday.
“Coming out here where stats don’t matter, it’s a good time to work on your game,” said Gile, a Menomonee Falls, Wis., native who transferred to ISU from Creighton. “I’ve been able to focus on a lot of those things, and it’s helped me a lot. It feels good to be having some success this summer.”
Gile, primarily a third baseman who also played second base at ISU, hasn’t made radical adjustments at the plate.
“I tweaked a few things mechanically. But it’s more so just focusing on getting my pitch and putting my best swing on it,” he said. “I’m also staying within the (strike) zone. The combination of the two has put me in a good spot up there at the plate. I’m excited for the fall (at ISU).”
Bobcats manager Jake Wegner touts Gile as deserving of the KCL’s Most Valuable Player award.
“He just goes about his business the right way every single day,” said Wegner. “The way he approaches everything every time he steps on the field, he’s playing to win and he’s giving his best effort all the time. We’re actually surprised when he doesn’t get a hit or is on base. That’s how electric he’s been this summer.”
KCL statistics listed Gile with one home run entering play Friday, but that does not begin to address his impact.
The league has instituted a unique rule if teams are tied after seven innings. Each team picks one player and the hitter who belts the most home runs in five swings (with metal bats) wins the game for his team.
The Bobcats have found their tiebreaking slugger in Gile, who is 3-0 in such encounters.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Gile said. “I really just take a nice, easy swing. I’m trying to square it up and take my shot the right way.”
Bobcats roll: Gile’s two-run home run to left field in a four-run first inning launched the Bobcats past the Ground Sloths in Friday’s opener. Gile, who scored four runs, added a solo shot in the sixth, an opposite field blast to the berm in right.
Parker Mathieson’s two-run triple was part of a four-run fourth as the Bobcats improved to 19-17.
Will Oberg blasted a two-run homer in the third for the Ground Sloths (15-20).
BlueCaps prevail: Rocco Pascente snapped a tie with a fifth-inning double that scored Broghan O'Connor as the BlueCaps edged the Howlers, 3-2.
The BlueCaps moved to 20-15, while the Howlers dropped to 17-19.
Playoffs loom: The KCL championship will be decided next Friday. At 5:35 p.m., the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds meet.
The winner of that contest then faces the regular season champion for the league title.
Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: pg_reinhardt