Summer break means chasing a dream if you're Spring Grove's Matt Brooks or Northeastern's Kody Reeser.
The rising seniors met a few years ago on a York Revolution travel team and remained in contact this summer through their college recruiting process, even though they no longer play together in the summer. Both will be seniors this fall at their respective high schools and both decided Sunday where they will play in college.
Brooks gave a verbal commitment to UNC Charlotte, while Reeser did the same with Towson.
The two baseball players join what is becoming a growing list of locals to commit with Division I colleges: Tye Golden, who will be a junior at Dallastown, committed in mid-July to Old Dominion. Last year, Susquehannock's Connor Hood chose Seton Hall and Red Lion's Wyatt Tyson picked Campbell. Hood and Tyson will be high school seniors.
Charlotte, which plays in Conference USA with Old Dominion, finished 19-29 this spring. Brooks can play shortstop or pitcher after helping Spring Grove win YAIAA Division I title and reach a district championship game while playing those positions, but he expects to be used exclusively as a pitcher in college.
"I'm excited, but it sucks I'm going to have to put the bat down," Brooks said. "They're only bringing in five or six (recruits), and one is the best shortstop in North Carolina."
Towson, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Association, was 17-35-2 but almost didn't have a program. The school planned to cut baseball in 2013 before it later found funding that included a state match from Maryland.
Reeser said learned of Towson's financial situation via Google search and found pictures of black tape over the Towson name on players' jerseys. He inquired with Tigers coach Mike Gottlieb, whom Reeser said acknowledged the program could experience another scare but the chances are small.
"I thought it was pretty neat," Reeser said . "They stood up for themselves and were able to get the program back. That factored into my decision."
One benefit Reeser just couldn't get past was convenience. Towson is only 40 minutes south, an easy trip for friends and family to see games and for Reeser to return home.
"As soon as I stepped on the campus, I loved it," he said. "It just seemed like the right scenario."
Reeser plays center field and pitches for Northeastern, which made a PIAA quarterfinal run in 2014 during his sophomore season, and he will have a chance to play both at Towson. On July 18, he won player of the game for his performance on the mound with Team Pennsylvania for the Big 26 Classic in Harrisburg. Last week set up to be hectic with a rush to make college visits and leave by Friday for a football camp at West Chester University.
Reeser visited Towson on Thursday before making a decision from a group, which included La Salle University among interested schools.
Brooks said St. Joseph's remained high on his list, while other schools to inquire or offer included Shippensburg, Stony Brook, Old Dominion, Maryland and UMBC. What separated Charlotte, Brooks said, was its coach's willingness to have a face-to-face meeting.
Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs flew to Philadelphia two weeks ago and met with Brooks and his family after the 49ers scouted him for a handful of games. The school first spotted Brooks pitching during a tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his Mid-Atlantic Red Sox travel team. The Niners saw Brooks again earlier this month in Emerson, Ga. for a national tournament — the same one that helped West York's Brett Kinneman land interest from N.C. State two years ago and Dallastown's Golden this year.
The tournament drew more than 350 teams.
"It's pretty crazy down there," Brooks said. "We played the No. 9-ranked team, and there were probably 50-60 college coaches there."
Brooks' last game in Georgia ended prematurely because a rain delay forced him to leave early to catch his flight back to Pennsylvania. Charlotte and other schools only got to see Brooks pitch two innings of his last start, but Charlotte saw enough. After Brooks' meeting with Hibbs, he drove south this past weekend to visit the campus and returned Monday afternoon from the 12-hour drive.
Like Reeser, he already has a major in mind. Both are considering business or finance.
"Charlotte is big in business," Brooks said. "They also have a good engineering program, but engineering and baseball is pretty tough to do, so we're thinking business. It's a good area for internships; a lot of Fortune 500 clubs. It's a pretty good place to be."
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be attending Towson University to further my education and play https://t.co/EuMTqrotG4— Elwood (@KodyReeser) July 25, 2015
Happy to announce im headed to UNC Charlotte to further my education and baseball career!!— Matt Brooks (@matt22brooks) July 27, 2015