With the minor league season shut down, area college players will get their chance Thursday at Werner Park.
The nine-game Nebraska-Iowa All-Star series will resume at 5 p.m. The first three games were in Des Moines, with the Iowa team posting a sweep.
Bill McGuire, coach of the Nebraska squad, said the primary goal of the series is to keep the collegiate players sharp before they return to campus in the fall.
“Really, it’s all about the kids,” McGuire said. “We want to make sure they’re ready for the competition that’s ahead of them.”
The series evolved from the Omaha Metro Area Colleges (OMAC) baseball organization. Those players with Nebraska ties have been practicing at Omaha Skutt.
“The guys were practicing three times a week,” OMAC administrator Tim Lukowski said. “When the opportunity came to play against a team of Iowa players, we made it happen.”
That Iowa team is salty, with 20 of its 24 players on NCAA Division I rosters. Nine play for the Hawkeyes.
The Nebraska roster consists primarily of players from smaller colleges. One exception is Omaha Creighton Prep graduate Brett Vosik, a senior at Kansas.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “They took it to us those first three games so we hope to get a little revenge.”
Vosik, who plays left field, said the Nebraska team needs to get off to a better start.
“We need to jump on them early,” he said. “We’ve gotten down and then the mood has darkened in the dugout a little bit.”
But McGuire knows his stuff. The former Husker was drafted by Seattle 27th overall in the first round of the 1985 draft and made his MLB debut with the Mariners in 1988.
He has kept busy in recent years as an umpire at the Division I level.
“I’m really impressed by the work ethic these guys have shown,” he said. “When we start practice at 8 or 9 a.m., they’re all there ready to go.”
McGuire added that fans will see those players working hard at Werner Park in an effort to get back into the series.
“Our main goal is to make the kids better players,” he said. “But they all have a competitive spirit and I know they want to do well in front of our home fans.”
Vosik, who missed out on his senior season this spring due to the coronavirus, will take advantage of the NCAA’s offer to return next year.
“I feel blessed that I get the chance to play in this series,” he said. “It will be awesome playing at Werner Park.”
There will be a nine-inning game Thursday and a pair of seven-inning games Friday starting at 3 p.m. The series will conclude next week at Werner with one game July 24 and two July 25.
Admission is $8 each day.
Lukowski thanked Omaha Storm Chasers President Martie Cordaro for helping with the logistics of the Werner Park portion of the series.
“Martie and his staff have been great,” he said. “We know it’s been a tough time for them but they’ve been awesome to work with.”
The Nebraska roster (with college or college destination):
Drake Angeron, Fort Hays (Kansas)
Garrett Anglim, Nebraska
Tanner Black, Doane
Brayden Bock, IMG Sports Academy (Florida)
Nolan Brown, Southeast (Nebraska) CC
Brock Burling, Hutchinson (Kansas) CC
Kaleb Carpenter, Nebraska
Jakob Crampton, William Penn
Ryan David, Southeast (Nebraska) CC
Wil Fisher, Northeast (Nebraska) CC
Cade Flaherty, Fort Hays (Kansas)
Adam Gadsden, UNO
Mojo Hagge, Nebraska
Grant Hubka, Iowa Western CC
Matt Keating, Southeast (Nebraska) CC
Garrett Kennedy, UNO
Reilly Kirkpatrick, South Carolina Upstate
Joe Komor, Northwestern (Iowa)
Collin Lefeber, Central College (Iowa)
Jacob Legleiter, Mars Hill (North Carolina)
Tanner Lukowski, Fort Hays (Kansas)
Jackson Meier, Southeast (Nebraska) CC
Zach Munson, UNO
Alex Naran, Regis
Dalton Nelson, Southeast (Nebraska) CC
Austin Oswald, Fort Scott (Kansas) CC
Tyler Palmer, Nebraska
Treyton Randall, Hutchinson (Kansas) CC
Max Renn, Hutchinson (Kansas) CC
Caleb Riedel, Iowa Western CC
Tyler Ruhl, Kansas State
Will Schneidewind, Nebraska Wesleyan
Bear Staebell, Wayne State
Trevor Stevens, Cloud County (Kansas) CC
James Valdivia, Wallace (Alabama) CC