Simpson baseball graduates 4 seniors


by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

They say the game of baseball keeps you young, being known as the kid’s game. One thing it is not, though, is a pause on time. No matter how may games you think you have left in the tank back in little league, time keeps going on.

This past weekend, Simpson baseball players Jake Esdohr, Jake Scieszinski, Matt Pennings and Nick Anderson played their final road series of their careers as the baseball timer continues to tick toward the end.

While their senior seasons have not gone as planned, with the team going 10-25, 6-18 in IIAC play after the Wartburg College series on Apr. 26 and 27, the four will go away from Indianola will memories and experiences that transcend the diamond.

“My favorite memory of Simpson baseball would be the trips to Arizona and meeting all of the new guys every year,” senior designated hitter and outfielder Nick Anderson said. “It’s great just building connections throughout the year and just playing baseball every single day.”

Known also as “Big Swole” Anderson, the sports administration major from Ankeny hit a team-best .333 as a junior and tied a record for doubles in a game with three against Buena Vista University on Apr. 18.

Teammates will remember Anderson for his gaffe during the team trip to Arizona his sophomore year in which he thought he missed the team bus at a lunch-stop in Liberal, Kansas.

“One of my favorite experiences at Simpson would be the time I thought I missed the bus in Arizona,” Anderson said. “All the guys were laughing away at me while I was in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut kicking rocks. That was kind of funny.”

Turning his career around

He’ll be joined by fellow Ankeny Hawk Matt Pennings who graduates with an impressive résumé as a starting and relief pitcher at Simpson after missing his freshman year due to academic eligibility.

Pennings was a second team all-Iowa Conference selection in 2014, a two-time IIAC Pitcher of the Week and an IIAC-Athlete of the week.

In addition to that, Pennings holds the school record for saves with 10, a tie for first in saves in a season with six and a share for the record for appearances in a season with 21.

He set the career saves record in an IIAC-Tournament game against Wartburg in which he put himself into pitch, the day after throwing 8 2/3 innings against Loras College.

“My favorite game was beating Wartburg last year in the conference tournament,” Pennings said. “My favorite experience has been the friends and family and overcoming difficulties.”

Who knows what his career statistics could be if played his freshman year, and the jury is out still if Pennings will return for another year after graduating in May with a degree in management.

Student of the game

Both Pennings and Anderson had close-knit relationships with another graduating senior, Jake Sciezinksi.

Sciezinski, known as “Ski,” comes from the small town of Mt. Vernon, Iowa, leaving with a job with Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids after posting consistent numbers.

Listed at 5 foot 9 inches tall and 170 pounds, Ski wasn’t known for his stature, but his guile, tact and knowledge of the game served him well as he etched out a spot in the starting pitching rotation and lineup, often in the three and four holes.

In 2014 he was a first-team all-IIAC utility player. Over his career he logged 120.2 innings on the mound while racking up 310 career at-bats and a .281 average going into his final series against the University of Dubuque on May 1.

For him, the best baseball memory came on what he called was his home field at Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids — the stadium that hosts the Single-A, Cedar Rapids Kernals baseball team.

“My sophomore year against Central I pitched eight innings and a shutout,” Sciezinski said. “It was fun experience.”

Finding home at Simpson

For senior Jake Esdohr, finding the right college wasn’t the quickest process, but he eventually felt that he found the one for him.

He began his career at Iowa State University before transferring to Des Moines Area Community College where he played baseball.

After the fall semester of his sophomore year, Esdohr came from DMACC to Indianola with long hair, becoming an immediate factor on the Simpson baseball team at catcher.

His junior year, he also kicked for the Storm football team. He has shown diversity as a player, playing his sophomore year at catcher, his junior season at shortstop and senior season in centerfield.

This season he is hitting .322 with an impressive .444 on-base percentage.

But once again, it’s not the statistics that last. 

“My favorite experience here at Simpson is the kind of family and camaraderie we have,” Esdohr said. “Even the bus rides like the one we are on right now [is memorable].”

Despite missing the IIAC Tournament this season, the first time any of them have missed the tournament during their careers, these four will have a chance to go out with a four-game home series with Dubuque at home back at Bob McBride Field — the field where they’ve spent hours and hours hitting, fielding running and kicking it with the team.