CLINTON — Tuesday’s tilt featured a number of dazzling infield plays all starting with flair from two local boys.
Rock Island’s Jake Scudder, the fourth batter in the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Classic, scorched a liner to the left side. Not only was Scudder robbed by the glove of shortstop Cody Nolan, but it caught baserunner Connor Whan off guard. The Illinois squad was doubled up when Nolan sidearmed it back to five-year teammate and fellow All-Conferenceman Cody Collender before Whan could get back to safety, ending the first inning.
The play may have wowed some, but for hometown fans at Ashford University Field it was a pleasurable and familiar sight from two of Clinton’s standout ballplayers this summer.
Nolan and Collender joined teammate Ryan Driscoll and coach Kevin Cunningham as members of the Iowa squad for the annual MAC versus Big Western Six (Illinois) bout of upper classmen. And while the Iowa team was on the losing side twice — 2-0 and 7-2 — players said Tuesday was more about getting to wear the high school cap one last time.
“It’s not the same as running out with your home team,” Nolan said. “But it was really fun meeting all these guys and playing one more time.”
Unlike Collender, who will play junior college ball at Ellsworth Community College, these were likely the last organized games for Nolan and Driscoll.
“I just wanted to come in, play some good baseball and have fun. I was really happy that I got to finish my career here with both Codys and at Ashford Stadium,” Driscoll said.
The Iowa roster featured seven players who were under two weeks removed from playing in the state baseball tournament in Des Moines. Both squads boasted athletes moving on to bigger stages.
Muscatine’s Derek Burkamper was drafted in the 20th round by the Boston Red Sox in Junes but has chose to continue his education/career at the University of Nebraska. During the nightcap, Burkamper clocked in the high 80s and was on the mound against a future Big Ten foe in Rock Island Alleman’s Cody Sedlock, an Illinois recruit.