Andres Rodriguez and Phil Kaiser had competed against each other for years, but it wasn’t until they played together this summer that they got the chance to really get to know each other.

“We really hit it off and we spent a lot of time together,” Rodriguez said of his summer league team’s trip to Georgia earlier this year.

It was during that trip that the two high school baseball standouts from Illinois also realized they were both being recruited by some of the same schools — including Eastern Kentucky University.

They were both drawing interest from some much higher-profile programs from all across the country, but Kaiser and Rodriguez were both very impressed with the Colonel coaching staff, especially head coach Elvis Dominguez.

So, after Kaiser decided to give a verbal commitment to EKU in the first week of August, he hoped his friend — and the person he wanted to be his college roommate — would do the same.

“He committed first,” Rodriguez said. “And I told him I’d think about it.”

Rodriguez decided to go to EKU as well, giving the school another big-time commitment in what is turning into an outstanding recruiting class.

Kaiser, a right-handed pitcher from Berwyn, Ill., was 5-3 last season and had a .179 earned run average. The 6-foot, 215-pounder also led his conference in batting average (.500), had five home runs, 49 RBIs and hit .695 with runners in scoring position.

As a junior, he was named All-Conference, All-Area and was an All-State selection. He was being recruited by Creighton, Illinois, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Charleston-Southern and Michigan State and has already been contacted by nine Major League Baseball teams.

“The coaches and players treated me really well,” Kaiser said of his visit to EKU. “I just felt at home when I was there.”

Rodriguez, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound outfielder from Olympia Fields, Ill., hit .395 last season, with one home run and 16 stolen bases.

He was being recruited by Ohio and Miami University, in addition to other schools.

The standout outfielder made an official trip to EKU earlier this month and stayed with All-American pitcher Christian Friedrich, who is one of six Illinois natives on the team’s roster.

“After visiting, I knew it was the right place for me,” Rodriguez said.

Kaiser and Rodriguez both said Dominguez and his staff played a big role in their decision to commit to EKU. Both said that the coach’s style and personality made a big impact on them along with his track record of producing professional baseball players.

“They don’t always get the big-name kids, but they are able to develop great players,” Kaiser said. “They must be doing something right.”

Rodriguez and Kaiser are just the latest in a string of top-notch recruits Dominguez has brought to EKU. The coach signed Friedrich two years ago and has had six players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft since he came to the school in 2001.

One of those former draft picks, Josh Anderson, was recently called up to the Major Leagues by the Houston Astros.

Earlier this month, the Colonels also got a verbal commitment from Alan Abreu, a standout shortstop from Miami, Fla. He was being recruited by the University of Miami, among other schools.

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