Friendship goals: GCU trio fulfills childhood dreams of playing together

Vince Reilly signed with the Oakland Athletics in July, setting the bar for his twin brother, Blake, and childhood friend, Jacob Wilson, for 2023 season at Grand Canyon University. (Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon University athletics)

GLENDALE – On a beautiful sunny day at Thousand Oaks High School in California, pitcher Blake Reilly was throwing the game of his life, while his twin brother Vince Reilly was watching from center field.

Distracted by the moment, Vince nearly overlooked the rare feat unfolding before his eyes that day.

“I didn’t even know that he had a no-hitter until like the fifth inning,” Vince recalled. “I looked over at the left and right fielder and said, ‘Guys, no one has a hit yet.’”

Having the opportunity to play baseball with friends is one thing, but playing with a twin is special and nothing new for the Reilly brothers. After all, Blake and Vince had been inseparable since birth, until a third person wedged between them – childhood friend and teammate Jacob Wilson.

Wilson grew up roughly five minutes away from the Reillys in Santa Rosa, California. The three met during a travel baseball game, and Wilson’s father and coach, Jack, soon asked the twins to join his son on the team.

The rest is history.

The trio went from opponents to teammates and great friends. They not only competed on the baseball field but also during video games while staying up late during sleepovers, according to Blake. Now, as members of the Grand Canyon University baseball family, their bond remains unbreakable.

At Thousand Oaks High, Jack Wilson brought his 12 years of MLB experience to coach the team. Jacob Wilson cherishes the opportunity to have had his father coach the three of them then and now as a GCU assistant coach.

“It was super cool. I got to follow him throughout his career ever since I was growing up. I was born right into baseball,” Wilson said. “Being able to be coached by him in high school and now at the college level has been super cool to be able to build that relationship with my dad. It has been awesome to have him help me with my career and to see him help others as well has been cool.”

The 2019 Marmonte League championship remains a defining moment for their friendship and baseball careers. They split the following fall. Wilson stayed back and played the final year of his high school season, while Vince and Blake went to the University of Hawaii and GCU, respectively, to further their baseball careers.

After his first year at Hawaii, Vince transfered to GCU and reunited with his brother. A year later, Wilson announced his commitment to play baseball with the Antelopes.

Vince cited his desire to transfer due in part to a feeling of being far away from home. After two years of not being together, the friends were together again.

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“Honestly, growing up with my brother and Jacob and having the ability to grow up and play baseball together all the way to the college level is very rare and it makes the experience a whole lot easier,” Vince said. “A lot of people when they first go to college do not know anyone, so it always helps when you know somebody and it makes you feel more comfortable and makes everything easier. I think it was just tough being 18 (years old), far away from home, and I wanted to be a little closer to home. I am glad I made the switch to GCU.”

After two seasons, Vince was drafted in the 18th round (pick No. 544) in July’s MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics after taking an unconventional path to the big leagues. That journey only heightened the moment.

“It is a feeling that you cannot really describe because you have so many different emotions going through your body,” Vince said. “I was at home and I had a couple of friends over and we were watching the draft. I knew I was not going to go day one or day two most likely.

“It was funny, I had the Oakland A’s reach out to me expressing interest in taking me the round prior and so I said, ‘No, I am sorry that is not enough money,’ and then the next round, we were watching the live stream on my friend’s phone, and I didn’t even hear my name get called.

And then my agent calls me and is like, ‘Congratulations you just got drafted.’ And I was like, ‘What? To who?’ And he said, ‘The Oakland A’s just took you.’”

“It is amazing,” his twin added. “You get to see them grow, especially my brother. We have been playing baseball together since four years old.

“I actually was not near him when it happened, but it was amazing. We got to celebrate that night and it was something very special because it was something that he was looking forward to his entire life and something that I am planning on doing myself.”

With Vince signed to the Athletics, Blake and Wilson hope to use this upcoming season to increase their stock for the 2023 MLB draft.

Could the band get back together again at the pro level? Time will tell.

“I was obviously super proud of Vince,” Wilson said. “I was able to grow up with him. I have known him forever, so to be able to see him get drafted and go live out his dream kind of gets me excited because I want to go out and do the same thing and just to be able to have watched him do his thing has been amazing.”

Sports Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Keenan O’Rourke expects to graduate in May of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. O’Rourke has covered ASU baseball for Blaze Radio.