If the saying that pitching and defense wins championships is true, both San Diego and Colorado displayed plenty of both in a 17 inning marathon to kick off Championship Week. San Diego had plenty of opportunities to back Dalton Shelberg who threw ten scoreless innings. Tanner Pinkston and Tyler Plantier each had three hits but it was the run produced by Trevor Abrams that broke the stalemate. San Diego will play Santa Barbara on Monday. The 17 innings matches the marathon played last season by the Kansas Stars and Hays Larks for amount of zeros before a score.
Everett Merchants 5, Liberal Bee Jays 4
Jake Levin was the primary run producer as the Merchants staved off the Liberal Bee Jays.John Samons picked up the win with 2.2 innings of work while holding the Bee Jays to just a run.Garrett Scott was 4-4 in the loss for Liberal.
Kansas Stars 3, Colorado Cyclones 2
The Stars appeared enamored with Cyclones starter Brent Jones as the righty threw six scoreless innings against a collection of Major League Veterans. Jones only allowed three hits and utilized his defense expertly. But the Stars struck for all their runs in the ninth inning when Brandon Inge doubled in a run to tie the game before Dan Uggla and Mat Diaz added RBI. The Stars pitching staff showed its power as Roy Oswalt, Jason Marquis, Brett Tomko, Joe Nathan, and Heath Bell combined to hold the Cylcones to just one run.
Santa Barbara Foresters 6, Derby Twins 4
Hank LaFort was solid in the field but made his presence felt offensively with a 3-3 night while scoring two runs.Steven Coe contributed two hits as well as the Foresters backed Evan Lee. Lee went 5.2 and picked up the win in a game that started at 11:40pm.
Down three to zero after 5, the Diamond Dawgs got a run back in the top of the 6th and scored two in the seventh to force extra innings. For Great Bend, starter Gyenonglu Kim was excellent for six innings before giving way to the bullpen with a lead in the seventh. But Bradley Demco was dominant in relief for the Cheney Diamond Dawgs and turned the tide long enough for the offense to get back into one. Demco threw 5.1 scoreless innings of relief while striking out seven and only allowing two hits. Phil Ingram had three hits and Travis Young scored twice to seal the win. The Cheney Diamond Dawgs have qualified for Championship Week with a game set for Sunday at 4pm against the Seattle Studs.
Mulvane Patriots 5, Austin Shockers 1
Ryan Erickson held the Shockers silent but it was Channing Williams who stole the game in the top of the ninth with a clean steal of home to produce the winning run. Dalton Dinkle added a two run double to open up the score. Erickson sealed what was ruled as a one hitter, the lone blemish being a fourth inning. Mulvane advances to Championship Week and will draw a first round matchup with the San Diego Waves at 1:30pm on Sunday.
Westchase rode the Eric Gonzalez Express to their second victory. Gonzalez went the distance allowing three runs while striking out six. Eric Thomas led the way at the plate. with an RBI for the Express while Ivan Silva and Jonas Garcia added to the triple craze at the 83rd NBCWS. Westchase held on late as Gonzalez only allowed one run in the final seven innings.
Hattiesburg Black Sox 11, Dallas Dirtbags 0
The Black Sox knew they would have work to do in order to put themselves in position to advance to Friday, and they busted out the sticks. Kedrick Martin got plenty of support but kept the shutout the run-rule shortened game going five innings and allowing just three baserunner. Kreg Garner drove in three runs and had a double in the win.
Great Bend Bat Cats 8, Inland Empire Golden Bears 4
Despite some pressure placed on them with a Black Sox win, the Bat Cats continued to dust off opponents. Benjamen Sims went 3-4 and scored three runs while Corrigan Bartlett drove in three runs. Mitch McIntyre went seven strong innings on the bump without allowing an earned run. Great Bend seals up a perfect pool play record and will meet up with Cheney on Friday Night.
Cheney Diamond Dawgs 12, Jasper Reds 2
Grant Devore and Travis Young were in the middle of a nine run fourth that helped Cheney run away from Jasper for Pool B. Devore was 3-4 with 3 runs scored and two driven in. Young was 2-3 with two runs scored and two driven in. Cheney will matchup with the Great Bend Bat Cats on Friday night.
The Diamond Dawgs raced through Pool B with a pair of run rules and a third victory by three runs. Overall, the offense was explosive averaging over 11 runs per game. Tresten Kennard has been going 5-10 with 10 RBI. The top six hitters in the Diamond Dawg lineup are all over .400 in the first three games. Six pitchers for the Diamond Dawgs have combined to work 13 scoreless innings
Dallas Dirtbags (TX)
The Dirtbags had some tough luck on the trip north but Dallas dealt with a swarm of tough teams. Mark Peterson stood out at First Base as he drove in five runs at the plate with a pair of 2 RBI games. Luke Cullum and Nico Garza both finished over .400.
Fresno A’s (CA)
The A’s represented the Western Association for their first NBCWS appearance. Anthony Ward paced the A’s at the plate going 5-10 in three games. Alec DeMaria went 4.2 for the longest A’s outing while Marco Gonzalez and Ubaldo Romo both made scoreless, inning-long appearances.
Great Bend Bat Cats (KS)
The Bat Cats certainly made their prescence known in their first NBCWS appearance. After disptaching the Dallas Dirtbags in game one, they pulled away from the Black Sox late. They’ll advance to Friday night’s win and in ball game against the Cheney Diamond Dawgs. Great Bend has been at the front of the Triple surge as Brennan Fontenot has three and Benjamin Sems has two.
Hattiesburg Black Sox (MS)
The Black Sox may have generated the most buzz in town of any team oustide of the state of Kansas in First Week. On the field Hattiesburg played with grit, battling back on the opening night to win game one 5-4 after being no-hit for the first six innings. aylyn Williams was a standout at the plate, helping to deliver the winning runs in the come from behind victory over the Golden Bears. After a night two loss to Great Bend, Hattiesburg woke up the bats for an 11-0 victory over Dallas in their final game. The win put them into position to advance with a Great Bend loss, which could have made run differential a factor. Exciting all the way to the end. Off the field, the Black Sox were very giving of their time to a community they had never been to in their 80 plus years of existence. Hattiesburg visited the Wesley Children’s Hospital, taking signed NBC Baseball’s to the kids.
Inland Empire Golden Bears (CA)
Every year of the three years for the Inland Empire Golden Bears has been a step forward. IE was created in 2015, made their first appearance in 2016 and in 2017 began consecutive appearances. This year they ran into a very tough Pool D but held tight against the top two teams from the Pool. A late inning loss on Sunday put pressure on the Bears to bounce back on Tuesday, which they grabbed a needed victory. Coming into Thursday’s feature game, a win by four runs over Great Bend would have advanced them to Friday. A long way in a short time for a scrappy team.
Jasper Reds (IN)
Perhaps no team in the NBC has been operating longer, dating back to the 1890’s. And while the Reds NBC experience started in 1993, their last win came in that World Series debut. The Reds pulled their first victory in 24 years defeating the Fresno A’s 8-5 and snapping an 11 game losing streak in Wichita during July and August dating back to 1993.
WestChase Express (TX)
The NBCWS debut of the WestChase Expres certainly had plenty of excitement. While Cheney created a large run differential in two run-ruled wins, WestChase hung tight in the pool with a blend of speed and timely hitting. Eric Thomas stole a pair of bags while Allan Hooker finished 4-10 with 5 RBI and three runs scored.
There have been 32 triples in the 24 Pool Play Games while just 8 home runs.
A make-up game not, withstanding, the Express from Westchase, Texas were running right on time and right past the Jasper Reds 8-0. Allan Hooker was the primary catalyst driving in four runs for the Express. Joseph Lyall and Aaron Gonzalez split the duties on the mound to combine for an eight-inning shutout. Lyall threw the first five to qualify for the win, while Gonzalez picked up a three innings save.
Great Bend fends off Dallas Dirtbags 9-5
Brennan Fontenot was a tough out, going 3-4, scoring 3 runs, and driving in 2 as the Bat Cats swatted down the Dallas Dirtbags 9-5. Even one of the few times Fontenot made an out, he drove in a run with a late sacrifice fly. It wasn’t all Fontenot in this one, as the two teams combined for 24 hits. Alex Ruxlow’s three innings of relief were enough to earn the win for the Great Bend Bat Cats.
Diamond Dawgs bite Fresno A’s 10-0
Tresten Kennard drove in four runs as the Cheney Diamond Dawgs jumped out quickly on the Fresno A’s. Albertus Barber went 4.1 scoreless innings in a run-rule shortened game to pick up the win.
Black Sox hold on to win over Golden Bears 5-4
Jaylyn Williams picked up two late hits and scored the game winning run as the Hattiesburg Black Sox knocked off the Inland Empire Golden Bears 5-4. Hattiesburg was held without a hit for the first six innings before a four run outburst in the seventh. Nathan Stewart locked down the save in the ninth.
With a game time temperature in the triple digits, the Austin Shockers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in securing a 9-3 win in the opener of the 83rd NBC World Series powered by Westar Energy. Zach Compton had a pair of hits and scored three times to spark the Shockers. Four other Shockers had multiple hits to back starter Colton Bailey. Bailey allowed just one run in 6 strong innings of work.
316 Elite rises late, upends Round Rock 12-5
After shaking off some early jitters and withstanding five early runs from the Round Rock Express, 316 Elite started swinging the bats. Sparked by a pair of triples from Brody Hanna, 316 Elite put up crooked numbers with a five-run fourth inning and a six-run fifth inning. Nathan Hungate settled down on the mound after allowing some early runs. Kreighton Rogers took it the rest of the way with 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Mulvane holds off Ft. Collins 6-5
The featured game was full of drama after the local Mulvane Patriots saw an early 5-0 lead dissapear. Mulvane got to the Bandits’ starter, Wichita State pitcher, Preston Snavely for five runs before he locked in and gave the Bandits time to respond. The Bandits response included the first home run of the World Series off the bat of Isaac Bracken. But the Patriots bullpen, led by Jared Price’s three innings of scoreless relief, held tight. Aaron Brown drove in the game winner in the top of the ninth. Ryan Bailey secured the final three outs, and the win for the Mulvane Patriots.
Boom bop Mud Daubers 5-3 (played Sunday Morning)
Marcus Catalano completed three legs of the cycle, just missing a home run, and teammate Gilbert Valenzuela added three hits of his own as the Northwest Boom (AZ) pounded out 13 total hits in a 5-3 victory over the Valley Center Mud Daubers. Cesar Dominguez was a magician working around eight hits and a walk in 6.2 innings of work, only allowing one earned run. Zach Bailey was 3-4 in the loss for the Mud Daubers.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa baseball team will compete as the USA National Team at the 83rd National Baseball Congress World Series from July 29-Aug. 6 in Wichita, Kansas.
The NBC World Series, which is the largest and oldest continuous sporting event in the United States, will be played at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
“This will be an excellent opportunity for our team to compete before we head to Taiwan for the World University Games,” said UI head coach Rick Heller, who will take the Hawkeyes to Taipei in the middle of August. “We’re grateful that the NBC has awarded us this opportunity.”
The USA National Team will begin pool play at the 83rd NBC World Series on Sunday, July 30, and continue with games on Tuesday, August 1, and Thursday, August 3. Should the USA National Team qualify out of pool play, it could potentially play on August 4-5 and eventually in the National Championship on August 6.
The Hawkeyes won 39 games during the 2017 season, claimed their first Big Ten Tournament title, and qualified for a second NCAA Regional in three seasons under Heller. The team hit 71 home runs and posted a .284 team batting average.
This is the fifth time a US National Team has played in the NBC World Series. Team USA played in 1995 and 1999. The NJCAA National Team played in 2014 and 2016.
During championship week, Iowa could find itself squaring off against the Kansas Stars — a team comprised of former Major League Baseball stars.
The Kansas Stars’ roster includes the likes of Roy Halladay, Joe Nathan, Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, Kenny Rogers, Chipper Jones, Adam LaRoche, Dan Uggla, Jack Wilson, John Buck, Jonny Gomes, and David Dellucci.
Arizona ballplayers learn self-reliance playing Alaska summer baseball
Theresa Smith, Special for azcentral sports
“It’s historic. It’s funny that they call it the Bingo Hilton when it is just a bunker, a hole-in-the-wall,’’ said Miners catcher Ryan Haug, a rising University of Arizona senior. “But you take it for what it is, and you appreciate it more, knowing that all these big leaguers a few years ago were in our shoes, doing the same thing, chasing that dream, playing summer ball in Alaska, and staying in the Bingo Hilton.’’
Paul Goldschmidt, Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson, Aaron Judge and Josh Donaldson are among dozens of major leaguers who honed their skills in the Land of the Midnight Sun, playing night games – sans lights – in the slowly fading sunlight. For the 2017 edition of the Miners, a recent road trip to the Kenai Peninsula transformed strangers from 19 different colleges, into teammates.
Over five days, they ate meals prepared by Miners volunteers and slept in bunk beds, four to a closet-sized portal. The three-man coaching staff, led by Ben Taylor, Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s associate head coach, hunkered down with the players, using the close quarters to play cards and talk baseball.
On the last night of the trip, the players walked down to the beach, a seemingly endless expanse of smooth sand with panoramic views of glacier-covered mountains book-ending the shimmering inlet waters. Around a bonfire they talked late into the night – a rare off-day awaited – literally and figuratively pulling together as a team. Currently, they are a first-place team, forging extra-inning wins on June 22 and June 30, to lead the Alaska Baseball League.
Along with the No. 1 rated Cape Cod League, the ABL provides a competitive, collegiate summer baseball experience in a unique setting.
“When you’re playing an extra-inning game at 10 o’clock, and there are no lights, and you don’t need lights, that is about as Alaska as it gets,’’ Taylor said.
Initially Haug could not fall asleep.
“It took me a couple of days to adjust, but playing in the light at night makes it fun,’’ he said. “You lose track of time. We get done at 10 or 11 and I think, ‘Is it really that late?’ ’’
Miners General Manager Pete Christopher and his wife, Denise, board members, and a crew of volunteers prepare a first-class field at the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer, including a clubhouse for players, weight training facilities, Canadian maple bats, and the largest fan base in the league. On June 15, despite overcast skies and 55-degree weather, they drew 981 fans.
Although Taylor coaches from September to May at Chandler-Gilbert, he doesn’t hesitate to head north to Alaska.
“It’s the only way I know how to do it; I’m a lifer,’’ said Taylor, who misses the game if he’s away for even three days. As the winningest coach in Miners history, the sixth-year coach focuses on development on and off the field. They’re truly on their own, up in the last frontier,’’ Taylor said. “There’s no semblance of what they’re used to, in terms of school or the comforts of home, and it’s on them to figure out how to survive and make this work. It is up to them to get to the gym, to get their work outs in. It is up to them to get there for early work, to get their extra swings in. It is up to them to get to bed at a decent hour, and to get up at a decent hour.
“They learn self-survival skills that are going to help them once they get to professional baseball. They have nothing else to focus on but baseball – maybe a little bit of fishing or some moose sighting. But there’s nothing to get in the way of them becoming the ballplayers, and the men, they want to become.’’
Seventeen former Miners were selected in the MLB draft last month; a member of the 2014 Miners, Nick Senzel, was the second overall pick in 2016. Progress is evident on campus, too, as former Miners Corbin Martin and Brigham Hill were the top starters for Texas A&M in its run to the College World Series in Omaha last month. They were drafted in the second and fifth rounds, respectively.
“You have to be tough to get through two months up here without seeing family, without taking a break from baseball,’’ he said. “I was more mentally and physically mature after my first summer here. Ben Taylor does that, he kind of grinds you down and makes you tougher.’’
With pitching coach Matt Greeley, LeBrun is working on his change-up and four-seam fastball.
“The summer is the best time to work on your craft,’’ he said. “We have so much time. So when you go into the college season, you know exactly how a pitch feels.’’
Along with Haug and LeBrun, the Miners have Zach Hardy, a former Phoenix Desert Vista High and Chandler-Gilbert CC standout; Rainer Ausmus, formerly of Chandler-Gilbert CC; Austin Bull from Gilbert Perry High School and Grand Canyon University; and his GCU teammates Preston Pavlica and Quin Cotton. Players with Arizona connections are sprinkled throughout the ABL, including Anchorage Bucs right-hander Logan Boyer, a Chandler Hamilton High grad who did not allow a hit and struck out 10 against the Miners over five innings on June 21.
Like Boyer, a rising sophomore at San Diego State, Hardy has used the summer as a measuring stick.
“Coming up here, I didn’t think I was going to be ready, but after the first couple days of practices, and playing in games, I can hang in there with guys in my conference and all over the country,’’ said Hardy, who will play for New Mexico State next season.
The support from his teammates is palpable.
“All of us knew we were in the same position together,’’ he said. “We all are thousands of miles away from home, and for some of us, this is our first summer away from our families, so all we really have is each other and our coaches, and luckily we are playing really good baseball, and that brought us together even closer.’’
Arizona-Alaska baseball connection
Rainer Ausmus, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mat-Su Miners, infielder
Austin Bull, Chandler Perry High School; Grand Canyon University, Mat-Su Miners, shortstop
Quin Cotton, Grand Canyon University, Mat-Su Miners, outfielder
Zach Hardy, Phoenix Desert Vista High School; Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mat-Su Miners, pitcher
Ryan Haug, University of Arizona, Mat-Su Miners, catcher
Calvin LeBrun, Phoenix Sunnyside High School, Mat-Su Miners, pitcher
Daniel Padilla, Assistant coach South Mountain Community College, Mat-Su Miners, assistant coach
Preston Pavlica, Grand Canyon University, Mat-Su Miners, outfielder
Ben Taylor, Associate head coach Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mat-Su Miners, head coach
Logan Boyer, Chandler Hamilton High School, Anchorage Bucs, pitcher
Billy Clemens, Tempe Corona Del Sol High School, Peninsula Oilers, pitcher
Cuba Bess, Grand Canyon University, Anchorage Glacier Pilots, catcher
Ian Evans, Grand Canyon University, Anchorage Glacier Pilots, first baseman
Griffin Barnes, Grand Canyon University, Fairbanks Goldpanners, catcher
Nick Ames, Tucson Canyon Del Oro High School, Fairbanks Goldpanners, infielder
Caleb Duarte, Grand Canyon University, *Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks, broadcaster
*College students work on their broadcasting skills by livestreaming games. One or two students are assigned to each team.
From 1964 through 1980, liquor store owner Bauldie Moschetti ran one of the nation’s premier collegiate summer baseball programs, the Boulder Collegians. The team won four National Baseball Congress championships and attracted top-tier college players from all over the country, including future pros such as Joe Carter, Joe Madden and Tony Gwynn.
That time frame was the heyday of the state’s college summer baseball scene, with other long-defunct storied teams such as the Englewood Redbirds, Colorado Rangers and Pueblo Steelers making Colorado a breeding ground for future pro prospects for three months of the year.
Jump ahead to 2017, and while Colorado doesn’t boast nationally renowned college summer baseball as it once did — the Cape Cod League and the Alaska League lay primary claim to that — the foundation is in place for the state to return to that level.
“There’s a history of quality summer baseball here, and I think you’re starting to see that come back,” said Al Blesar, a longtime coach and professional scout who is the co-director of player personnel for the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League. “More local guys and nonlocal guys are seeing the benefits of playing in leagues here before they head back to school in the fall.”
Colorado has three summer leagues: the Rocky Mountain Baseball League (founded in 1999), the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League (2013) and the Mountain West Summer College Baseball League (2015). All three are nonprofits, with all player fees going toward operating costs. The RMBL and MHCBL have 10 teams apiece and the MWSCBL eight, and both the RMBL (two bids) and the MHCBL (one bid) are members of the NBC.
At their core, the leagues provide players with a packed summer schedule — usually 40 to 60 games — that allows players ranging from Division I to junior college to focus on development.
“Like I always tell my players, you’re going to come in and get your at-bats and get your innings on the mound,” said Steve Oram, vice president of the RMBL and a longtime summer coach. “I think a lot of the younger guys in the league, like players who just graduated from high school or redshirted in college, get an opportunity to get better over the summer so that they can make their college team or find their way on the field.”
Players such as Evan Walter are proof of the doors Colorado summer baseball can open.
Walter started at first base the past two seasons for the Colorado Cyclones, a team that earned NBC berths with consecutive MHCBL titles. The 2012 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate attends the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma, which has a top-tier NAIA program. He found a home there, thanks to the MHCBL.
“The main thing the league’s helped me with is that it’s given me opportunities,” Walter said. “Two years ago I got picked up by a junior college after the summer because I wasn’t playing at my previous school, and then last summer, I earned the opportunity to come aboard at my current four-year school.”
And while the RMBL and the MHCBL are dominated by Coloradans, the Western Slope-based MWSCBL is about 80 percent non-Coloradans — including players from nearly all 50 states as well as Mexico, Canada and Australia. The league capitalizes on Colorado’s mild summers, altitude-assisted hitting and growing status as a world-class destination.
“One of the biggest draws of our league is where it’s at,” said MWSCBL commissioner Joe LeFebre, whose league has teams in Eagle Valley, Carbondale and Steamboat Springs, among other sites. “I don’t think there’s a college summer baseball team at 9,000 feet elevation like the Summit Extreme Black Diamonds are, and I don’t think there ever has been.”
All three Colorado summer leagues have expanded since their debut, and now the RMBL is looking to widen its reach beyond the state’s borders.
“With so many summer leagues sprouting up all over the country and increasing numbers of guys who are willing to travel to play summer ball, now we’re trying to market ourselves as more of a regional league,” Oram said. “We’ve got a team in Laramie right now and we’ve got one up in Sterling, and we’re working with guys up in Casper and Cheyenne, so next year we hope to expand the league up there as well.”
But despite the proliferation of summer collegiate baseball teams in Colorado over the past two decades, the state — specifically the Denver area, where RMBL and MHCBL teams are mostly located — faces a distance disadvantage compared with other leagues within the U.S. such as the Jayhawk League (Kansas) and the Northwoods League (the Midwest) that draw top college freshmen and sophomores nationally.
“Leagues like the Jayhawk League have their own franchises, and it’s like the minor leagues in the way it’s set up,” Blesar said. “Each city is franchised and the teams play at the best college ballparks in the city, and the communities really come out and get behind the teams.”
In that way, the lure of the Denver area for players also is a drawback for the RMBL and MHCBL, because cities here don’t provide the best breeding grounds for grassroots amateur leagues. The lack of Division I programs at major universities such as DU, CU and CSU doesn’t help, either.
“I don’t know if we could ever become self-sufficient like the Northwoods or the Cape Cod, because we’re not in small towns,” RMBL president Mark Cerullo said. “There so much to do in Colorado that even if the league charged gate, as we’ve discussed in the past, it would be just friends and family paying. So while Denver is a great draw for kids to play here, it’s a tough sell in terms of sponsorships and getting people out to ballgames.”
But a state can still dream.
Many of those who have been around Colorado amateur baseball the longest — such as Cherry Creek High School’s Marc Johnson, who has coached the Bruins for 45 years — believe the infrastructure and intangibles are in place for the state to once again become a summer college baseball hotbed.
“To go back to when Colorado summer teams were truly loaded — like when I was coaching the Colorado Rangers and I had guys like (Boston Red Sox manager) John Farrell on my team — you’d have to have some big sponsors and a lot more nice college fields in the area,” Johnson said. “Right now, I think you could put together a great Colorado-based team to rival what Cape Cod offers, but you’d need an entire league so that team doesn’t have to travel the country to play. That’s the next step to elevating the college summer leagues in Colorado, and it’s going to take an influx of talent to do it.”