Weekend series against Iowa baseball means a little bit more for pitcher Cody Sedlock

Illinois+Cody+Sedlock+%2829%29+winds+up+for+the+pitch+during+the+baseball+game+v.+Indiana+at+Illinois+Field+on+Friday%2C+Apr.+17%2C+2015.+Illinois+won+5-1.

Kevin Vongnaphone | Senior photo

Illinois’ Cody Sedlock (29) winds up for the pitch during the baseball game v. Indiana at Illinois Field on Friday, Apr. 17, 2015. Illinois won 5-1.

By Cole Henke, Staff writer

From the schedule, Illinois baseball’s series against Iowa in Iowa City this weekend looks like a normal matchup between Big Ten foes.

But Friday may feature a situation that has never happened before.

Junior Illini ace Cody Sedlock could pitch against one of his best friends, senior Iowa outfielder John Barrett, for the first time ever.

Both alumni of Alleman Catholic High School in Rock Island, Illinois, Sedlock and Barrett have never played against each other directly. The teams have competed against each other plenty of times, but Sedlock has never looked down from the mound to see his buddy standing in the batter’s box.

“I hope I get the opportunity (to pitch against Barrett),” Sedlock said. “He is one of my best friends so it would be fun to compete against him.”

Barrett has appeared in only 13 games and started in five games for the Hawkeyes this season, so it is possible that the two friends might not face each other on the diamond.

If it does end up happening, Sedlock and Barrett won’t be the only ones hoping that their matchup comes to fruition.

Alleman’s varsity baseball team – 20 players and five coaches – are making the trip to Iowa to support its two former players. Alleman is about a 45 minute drive away from Iowa City.

Alleman’s head coach Jerry Burkhead said its baseball program has had its fair share of players go on to play Division I baseball, but this will be the first time that he knows of that two former Alleman players could face each other in a Division I game.

“We are really excited to go see them play this weekend,” Burkhead said. “This may be a once-in-a-program thing to see two former player compete against each other in a Division I game.”

Even the younger players who weren’t part of the team when Sedlock and Barrett played have heard of the duo. The two lead Alleman to a state runner-up finish in 2012 when Sedlock was a junior and Barrett was a senior.

Sedlock started the state semifinal game. He pitched seven innings, and only gave up one run on four hits.

Sedlock said having Burkhead at the game has even more meaning.

The coach was with Sedlock every step of the way during his high school career. He was the sophomore coach during Sedlock’s freshman year, and he was the pitching coach and third base coach for the varsity team during Sedlock’s junior and senior years.

Sedlock has had plenty of success after high school. He is one of the top pitching prospects in the Big Ten, and has taken over the as the ace of the Illinois rotation after former Illini Kevin Duschene, Drasen Johnson and Tyler Jay all left due to graduation or getting drafted to the MLB.

According to Burkhead, his success comes as no surprise.

“We coach a lot of players in this program,” Burkhead said. “Sometimes we think they have that trait that they can be successful at the next level, but sometimes it doesn’t pan out. We knew Cody had that mentality that would make him successful. We are not surprised at all.”

In high school when they weren’t on the baseball diamond, Sedlock and Barrett would still spend a lot of time together. Sedlock lives in a rural area 25 minutes from Alleman. Barrett said that he and Sedlock would go fishing in a big pond in Sedlock’s yard.

The friends text all the time, and will occasionally go to each other’s schools, especially when Illinois and Iowa play football.

Their allegiances at those football games are the same as they have been through their entire lives, not just their time in college. Sedlock has been an Illini fan his entire life. During the state final game his senior year, there were Illini scouts there to watch them. When he saw them, Sedlock told his coaches that is where he wanted to be.

Barrett’s dad golfed at Iowa, so Barrett was born and raised a Hawkeye.

After the game, Burkhead plans to have his team hang out with Barrett and Sedlock out on the field.

“I think it will show (the younger players) that hard work pays off,” Burkhead said. “They will see that hard work and dedication to what you do can get you to that next level.”

The Alleman baseball team will only attend Friday’s game as the team opens its conference season on Saturday.

Sedlock and Barrett will also go back to work. The Illini and Hawkeyes play Saturday and Sunday, too.

The Illini (12-14, 3-3 Big Ten) are entering the weekend coming off a 9-7 win against Eastern Illinois on Tuesday. They are averaging 7.5 runs per game over their last four games, but they have been giving up 7.25 runs per game over the same four.

Iowa (11-14, 3-3 Big Ten) has an almost identical record to Illinois. The Hawkeyes enter the weekend after dropping two out of three to Minnesota.

Sedlock has been solid all season with a 4-1 record and a 3.50 ERA, and looks to keep his campaign going in Iowa City.

As far as who the Alleman team will root for this weekend, Sedlock believes that his alma mater will root for him on Friday, but root for Iowa on Saturday and Sunday.

Burkhead had a different idea.

“We are just hoping to come up and see a great game,” Burkhead said. “We obviously want to see Cody to pitch really well and we want Cody to be the winning pitcher, but we also want to see John get a couple hits.”

[email protected]

@cole_Henke