A suggestion last year from former Northeastern baseball coach Don Kauffman prompted Kody Reeser to try out as a sophomore for the Big 26 Baseball Classic.
Kauffman told Reeser it would provide an opportunity to play in front of more college coaches. Reeser wound up making another all-star game, a tier below the Big 26 Classic, but this spring's tryouts yielded a better result.
Reeser, now entering his senior season at Northeastern, and Dallastown catcher Bryant Holtzapple were selected to represent Pennsylvania later this month when it plays Maryland in the Big 26 Classic. It will entail a three-game series July 17-19 at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg.
Players were selected after tryouts were held around both states. Reeser said players were graded in a variety of ways: a 60-yard dash, batting practice, throws from the outfield, infield and pitching drills.
"It was definitely pretty intimidating," said Reeser, who last year qualified for the Keystone Klash at Penn State's Medlar Field.
The game takes high school players who just finished their sophomore and junior years. While Reeser made the Big 26 team on his second try, Holtzapple got it on his first attempt following his sophomore season at Dallastown.
That's not to say he didn't already have some exposure to the game like Reeser. Holtzapple caught in the bullpen for last year's three Big 26 games in Harrisburg.
"I had a lot of fun last year when I went down," Holtzapple said. "Now I had the chance to tryout, and it was exciting."
Reeser was selected as a pitcher and outfielder and made Team Pennsylvania after its first day of tryouts at Lebanon Valley College. He learned he made the team two weeks ago, when his mother, Kim Reeser, received an email from Big 33 executive director Dave Trimbur.
Holtzapple was selected after the second tryout in State College.
"There's few rising juniors to make it," the Dallastown catcher said. "To make it as one of them is surreal and humbling."
In its fourth year, the Big 26 Baseball Classic is an extension of the long-running Big 33 Football Classic. Eight players from the YAIAA previously made Pennsylvania's Big 26 roster.
"It's definitely a great accomplishment," Reeser said. "I'm not one to boast about individual accomplishments. I'd rather have the district or state championship with the Northeastern baseball team."
Reeser plays center field and was the opening day starter on the mound this spring for the Bobcats. A three-sport athlete in high school, he's kept busy this summer playing baseball for the Manchester Indians of the Central League during weekdays. On weekends, he plays travel tournaments with Elite Baseball of Lancaster.
Holtzapple has kept a busy schedule, too. On top of playing for Dallastown's American Legion team during the week, he also plays for a travel team. He's currently playing in Georgia for the next week with the Mid-Atlantic Rookies.
Reeser's travels have acquainted him with two players on the Maryland all-star team, Nick Pantos and David Hutchinson. Pantos is already committed to the University of Maryland and Hutchinson to Albany.
Reeser likes La Salle University but stressed he's far from making a decision. He said he plans to major in business and hopes this month's Big 26 Classic will help his chances of playing baseball in college.
"It's basically all thanks to Coach Kauffman for letting me know about the tryouts," Reeser said.
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.