ALTON – No doubt about it, Bryan Hudson is going to be the center of attention every time he takes the mound for Alton's baseball team this season.
Hudson, a 6-8 senior, has signed to play for Missouri next year, but the repertory of pitches he's developed has also attracted a number of Major-League scouts, and the possibility exists he could be taken in the first round of this June's Major League Baseball Draft by a team in need of pitching.
To put it mildly, Hudson has all the tools. Just ask Jersey's baseball team.
The Panthers were the victims of a nine-strikout performance by Hudson – striking out eight in a row at one point – as well as a two-run homer as the Redbirds took a 12-0, four-and-a-half inning win at Gordon Moore Park Monday night. Sixteen Major League scouts had radar guns centered on Hudson at the start of the game.
“He threw well,” Panther coach Darren Perdun said. “He's the best pitcher in the area, no doubt, and we tip our caps to him. At the same time, our approach to our at-bats wasn't as confident as it should have been.
“Obviously, you don't want to get behind in a game, but we had some good at-bats and some bad at-bats and we need to get some more confidence when we're at the plate. We've got to dig in and do better than we did tonight.”
“Bryan's a very special individual,” said Redbird head coach Todd Haug. “He's been getting a lot of attention, but he hasn't let it get to him; he just loves playing the game.”
As far as his time goes, the idea for the Redbirds to be peaking at the right time – namely the IHSA Class 4A playoffs that begin in mid-June. “That's what we're working to accomplish, to be peaking in May when the playoffs get started, Haug said.
Hudson, in his four innings of work, faced the minimum, giving up only a fourth-inning single to Hunter Bryant – and Bryant was picked off first by a well-timed throw by Hudson. He had nine strikeouts – four of them called third strikes – and was involved in some way in the other three putouts, fielding grounders back to the mound twice and the Bryant pickoff.
Alton's first two runs came on a RBI single from Jacob Kanailaka that brought home Drake Hampton and sacrifice fly to right by Aaron Bunnell to put the Redbirds ahead 2-0. Two more runs in the third came from Hudson's homer that brought home Matt Hopkins ahead of Hudson, and the Redbirds broke it open in the fourth, sending 13 batters to the plate, the big blow being a bases-clearing triple by Jacob Skrabacz his second time up in the inning that brought home three runs.
Hudson was 1-for-1 with two walks and the two-run homer; Skrabacz was 1-for-2 with three RBIs on the triple.
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Feeney, 56, is a native of Granite City and graduated from Granite City South in 1978. He was a part-time writer for the old Granite City Journal from 1979-84 before attending Eastern Illinois University in Charleston,
from which he earned his BA in journalism in 1988. He has worked for newspapers in Sikeston, Mo., Rocky Mount, N.C., Seneca, S.C. and in Charleston-Mattoon. He also worked for the old St. Clair County Suburban