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DePauw University is a private liberal arts college in Greencastle, Ind.

Athletically, the Tigers are part of NCAA Division III.

The school encourages its students to travel outside the United States and that’s what the baseball team got to do last week as a part of Winter Term.

Through Dominican Baseball Camp, a DePauw travel party that included 35 players, two coaches (head coach Blake Allen and assistant Jon Erhard) and one trainer (Michael Snider) plus close to 40 family members spent seven days and six nights in the Dominican Republic. The last day of the trip was Jan. 22.

“It’s the largest parent gathering (DBC organizer Sam LeBeau) has ever had,” says Allen, who enters his eighth season as Tigers head baseball coach in 2024. “It was absolutely incredible.”

The team stayed in Boca Chica about 25 miles east of the county’s capital of Santo Domingo and near many Major League Baseball academies.

DePauw practiced for eight days before leaving for the D.R. While there, the team played three games — Wednesday, Jan. 17, Thursday, Jan. 18 and Sunday, Jan. 21.

The first contest was against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp Academy, which develops players for the Japanese professional baseball organization.

The second and third games were against a team of Dominicans — many in MLB organizations.

“The talent was really, really good,” says Allen. One of them was Camilo Diaz, an 18-year-old shortstop ranked among the top prospects in the Houston Astros system.

DePauw players and coaches conducted a youth clinic with close to 100 kids.

“These villages have fields that people built,” says Allen.

While some spoke very little Spanish, junior infielder Chase Stratman (Paso Robles, Calif.) and sophomore left-handed pitcher/outfielder Pearse Riendeau (Richmond, Va.) are articulate in the language and took the lead in many translation situations.

“They were a big help especially at the youth clinic,” says Allen. “They were able to connect with the kids.

“They are fluent and I am not.”

DePauw went to the island nation with equipment — including several sets of used catcher’s gear —  and gave it away.

“Every place we went we would leave a bag with donations,” says Allen.

As another service project, the team painted three houses and spent time with the people.

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” says Allen.

The DePauw crew attended the first game of the Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana finals — the Dominican Winter League World Series — between Estrellas Orientales and Tigres del Licey.

Former big leaguer Robinson Cano (three hits in Game 1) and free agent Miguel Sano play for Estrellas.

Former DePauw assistant coach Michael Blatchford is a hitting coach for one the Dominican Summer League teams in the San Francisco Giants organization and the team was able to catch up with him.

Another aim of the trip was increasing unity.

“Our guys were together for seven days,” says Allen. “At DePauw we’ve got the Greek system that can pull some guys to silo a little bit on-campus sometimes. It’s always a challenge to get these guys to stay together outside of practice and games.

“This was a huge, huge team bonding for sure.”

Carter Knoll, a lefty-swinging junior first baseman and Plainfield (Ind.) High School graduate majoring in Kinesiology, talked about his first out-of-country experience.

“My biggest takeaway was a large perspective change,” says Knoll. “The amount of joy that a lot of players played with down there. They were forgetting bad plays and just being happy for their teammates.

“They played the game with a lot more fun than we do here in the United States. It’s a game we’re blessed to be able to play and we should play it having fun.”

Cameron Macon is a righty-swinging senior middle infielder from St. Louis and a Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

“It was a really profound kind of experience for me,” says Macon. “I really admired and respected how they played the game over there. For these kids, baseball is their way out. You’d think that would add a ton of pressure. They were playing relaxed and having fun and seemingly without any pressure.

“It’s something I’m going to take and apply to my future in baseball.”

The youth camp gave him the opportunity to use his limited Spanish and see that the young hitters that were at his station were already mechanically-sound.

Going to the villages allowed Macon to appreciate what he has at home — like clean drinking water and effective plumbing.

“It had a huge impact on me,” says Macon. “I saw just how different life is there and how fortunate we are to live in a country that gives us some of these things we take for granted.”

Michael Vallone is a senior left-handed pitcher from Lake Forest, Ill., and a Global Health major.

“Playing those games down there was just a different vibe and it was a lot of fun,” says Vallone. “The energy that they bring to the table is a little different. There’s a lot less stress.”

DePauw has many of its students go abroad to learn about other lands.

Cristin Allen, Blake’s wife, is head women’s soccer coach at DePauw. That team traveled to Spain and Portugal last May and June.

After that, the Brett Dietz-coached DU football team went to Italy.

The school’s women’s lacrosse team — now coached by Cori Rees — trekked to Colombia last summer.

DePauw’s men’s basketball team — now coached by Rusty Lloyd — has been a frequent visitor to Ireland.

DU softball — now coached by Erica Hanrahan — has gone to New Zealand.

“It’s something we really try to do with our teams,” says Blake Allen of international trips. “It’s definitely an emphasis of our university to experience some different places.”

DePauw baseball planned to visit Cuba in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that.

The 2024 season opener is slated for Feb. 17 against Berea College and Grove City College in Berea, Ky. The Tigers are to play a doubleheader against Manchester University on March 9 on the turf at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. The home opener at Walker Field is March 21 against North Central College.

Dominican Baseball Camp was established in 2008 and hosts teams — youth through college — during school breaks. College squads tend to come between October and January. DePauw is the fifth and final college team to visit during this off-season.

“It’s just exposing American kids to the Latin style of baseball,” says LeBeau, who resides in Charlottesville, Va., and spends about 20 weeks a year in the D.R. “The Dominican Republic is putting more players in Major League Baseball per capita than any country in the world.

“Every corner you go around there’s another baseball field. Their best athletes are playing baseball. They don’t lose good athletes to other sports.

“They have beautiful weather year-round.”

LeBeau says DBC has hosted more college teams from Indiana than any other state with DePauw being the fifth.

Indiana University visited when Tracy Smith was head coach and Kyle Schwarber was on the team. The University of Notre Dame went with Mik Aoki as field boss and Cavan Biggio on the roster. Coach Rich Maloney took Ball State University to the D.R. Coach Brian Schmack and his Valparaiso University team have also taken advantage of the company’s services.