Throughout his baseball career, Craig Austgen has earned his keep by being a jack-of-all-trades kind of player, a utility man who can be plugged in at almost any position on the baseball field.
It's been no different during the summer for the Lowell grad, who is in his second summer with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
"When I was younger and on travel teams, I wasn't always the best one on the team so they would move me around to wherever they needed somebody," Austgen said. "I was athletic, so that's what kept me playing."
Those type of utility guys are essential to the success of any baseball team, and the Oilmen are no different.
"He's a great teammate and a very versatile player," Oilmen coach Justin Huisman said. "He can bat just about anywhere in the lineup. He can hit and run, he can bunt, he can run a little bit. I wouldn't say he's a superstar at anything, but he's good at everything and valuable."
In his third game back from experiencing right shoulder discomfort that sidelined him earlier in the season, Austgen went 3-for-3 and drove in two runs in a 9-1 win over the Michigan City Lakers on Monday.
"It was a pretty big confidence booster," said Austgen, who was hitting just .067 on the season prior to Monday. "We didn't get to finish the game (due to a thunderstorm), so I was ready to keep hitting."
Austgen spent the first two years of his collegiate career at South Suburban College before transferring to St. Joseph's College. Austgen hit .240 with two home runs and 17 RBIs this past season, admitting that hitting college pitching at the NCAA Division II level was more difficult than at the NJCAA level.
Despite that, Austgen was a part of a Pumas team that improved by 13 wins over one season. They finished 17-31 in 2012 before rebounding to 30-20 this spring.
Austgen is one of four returning players from last season's Midwest Collegiate League championship team. Experiencing that glory last summer has Austgen firmly locked in on a repeat performance.
"I really want to (win)," Austgen said. "I think we can do it. I haven't been with the guys for that many games (this season), but we have a bunch of great guys on the team. Everybody clicks, and everybody is a good player."