He began his collegiate baseball career at a small NAIA school near his home in Michigan. But, thanks to Wabash Valley College and a friend, Garrett Gordon will next year play at the University of Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference.

In a way it is the quintessential junior college story - an athlete looking for a second chance, hoping to play his or her way into a major college opportunity.

Gordon, an outfield starter on the 18th-ranked Warriors, prepped in Saline,  a Michigan town not far from Ann Arbor. He received only two collegiate offers, from NAIA schools, taking one of them, from Spring Arbor University, for his freshman year.

But he wanted more.

“I played every day but didn’t like what was going on,” Gordon said. “I wanted to see more scouts and play in front of people and make it to the next level.”

Enter WVC teammate and life-long friend, Conor Dishman. “We’ve played baseball since we were six years old. I talked to him over the summer, and told him I’d had a good season. He said ‘You’ve got to get in front of the scouts, and you could probably go to a Division I school.’”

Warrior manager Rob Fournier likes what he has seen.

“I’m so proud to have a kid with his work ethic,” said Fournier of Gordon, the only Warrior to play in all 46 games this season. “It is awesome to see a kid accomplish what he came here for.”

Gordon, who bats from the right side, is hitting .318 with four home runs and 37 RBIs, with the latter statistic being the second best on the team.

Next year with the Razorbacks, Gordon expects a steep learning curve.

“There will be a lot better pitching there, with guys throwing in the 90s all the time, with other pitches,” he said. “I’m always up to the challenge, to hopefully make it to even the next level.

Fournier said Gordon “is all ears,” and will continue to better “learn his strike zone, and know what he can do physically and mentally.”

Gordon, listed at 6-foot and 210-pounds, said Fournier “makes it happen for us. Gets scouts here and moves us on to different schools, and gets guys drafted. That’s why we play baseball. We don’t want to be done after four years.”

Though a work in progress, Gordon’s tale is turning into one of dreams fulfilled. “He knew he wanted to follow his dream, play Division I baseball and get a chance to get drafted,” Fournier said.

“The time was now.”

• Monday, WVC (36-10) maintained its’ one-game lead in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference race with a 12-2 victory over John A. Logan in a makeup game. Dishman, Rey Perez and Edgar Figueroa each had three hits for the Warriors. Wabash is 15-3 in the league, one game ahead of Rend Lake (14-4), with six GRAC games remaining.

Clay Wallace (6-3) picked up the win. Wabash Valley plays at Vincennes today (Tuesday) at 3:30 p.m.