BLOOMINGTON - Olympia, Pontiac and Prairie Central high schools spend much of the baseball season beating up on one another in Corn Belt Conference play. For one night, they will join forces.
The Corn Belt rivals placed two players each on the Area squad for Sunday's 51st annual Pantagraph All-Star Baseball Game at Illinois Wesleyan's Horenberger Field.
Corn Belt champion and Class A super-sectional qualifier Olympia will be represented by outfielders Ben Trout and Jack Hainline. Catcher Alex Diller and infielder Jerid Coleman were chosen from Prairie Central, joining pitcher Eric Davis and designated hitter/outfielder Ryan Kelly of Pontiac.
Heading the Intercity selections for the 6 p.m. contest were Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year Zach Watkins of Bloomington and Big 12 co-offensive player of the year Cody Gilles of Normal Community. The game is for seniors only, with players selected by the Pantagraph sports staff.
The following is a brief look at each squad. Players must provide their own uniforms and equipment. They are asked to contact or leave a message for assistant sports editor Randy Kindred at (309) 820-3402 or firstname.lastname@example.org by noon Wednesday regarding their availability for the game.
Pre-game ceremonies on Sunday start at 5:45 p.m. and proceeds go to the American Junior Baseball Program. The game will be nine innings with no re-entry. All players must appear in the game and a designated hitter can be used.
Head coach Mark Brown of Fieldcrest will get to coach pitcher Kiel Melvin one more time. Melvin had an 8-2 record with a 1.26 earned run average, helping Fieldcrest win the Heart of Illinois Conference and reach the Class A sectional finals.
Area strikeout leader Lucas Cook of Heyworth joined Melvin on the Area pitching staff, along with Davis, Lincoln's Royce Duncan and Tremont's Mark Oyer, who led the Area in ERA.
Infielder B.J. Zobrist of Eureka was selected after batting over .500 with 17 doubles. Other infielders chosen were Coleman, Taylor Springer of Tri-Valley, LeRoy's Ryan Koerner, Chris Cravatta of Streator and CPCI's Jeffrey Maurer.
Joining Trout, Hainline and Kelly as outfielders were hard-hitting Neil Wright of Mahomet-Seymour (.522, 37 RBI) and Bo Kinder of Clinton. Hartsburg-Emden's Gary Rademaker was selected as a catcher.
Brown will be assisted by Jim Workman of Tremont, Todd Brownlee of Deer Creek-Mackinaw and Brian Martin of Fieldcrest.
Watkins was 6-0 with two saves and a 2.38 ERA for BHS coach Steve Clapp, who will be head coach for the Intercity. Gilles, an infielder, slugged 11 home runs and drove in 35 for NCHS, which had five players selected.
Other Ironmen chosen were pitchers Brian Weekes and Brad Jahnke, catcher Skyler Peak and outfielder Tim Brungard.
Watkins was among four BHS players to make the squad, joining infielders Andy Malinowski and Dennis Koth and pitcher Josh Lincoln.
University High's Tyler Cook, who led the Intercity with a .491 batting average, was named as an outfielder along with Brungard and Central Catholic's Marc North, Michael Kniery and Nathan Rebholz.
The Saints' Zach Lauer made the team as an infielder, as did Cory Phillips of Normal West and John Mersch of U High. Normal West also will be represented by pitcher Matt Widick and catcher Max Sylvester.
Clapp's coaching staff will include Intercity head coaches Chris Hawkins (Normal West), Jeff Paul (Central Catholic), Greg Bee (U High) and Ryan Short (NCHS), as well as BHS assistant coaches Evan Leathers, Travis Drury and Jake Owens.