Bill Shaw faced a list of unknowns as he led his team into the 85th NBC World Series.
Derby brought arguably one of the youngest rosters to the tournament, but after winning 11 of its final 16 regular-season games, it finished fifth in its trip to Eck Stadium at Wichita State. It defeated perennial powers Hays and Liberal on its way to the quarterfinals.
The Twins (29-18 overall) saw their season end, 4-2, against the Cheney Diamond Dawgs in the lone extra-inning game of the NBC World Series. The eventual runner-up scored two 10th-inning runs after neither team had scored in the previous seven frames.
“We were a team of mostly JUCO and NAIA kids,” Shaw said. “We saw teams that had several D-II and D-I players. For us to do what we did is just phenomenal.”
In its previous two games, Derby won both on walk-off wild pitches. Both of those runs were scored by Colton Whitehouse (NW Oklahoma State), who came back to play this summer after undergoing knee surgery. He (hit .382 in the NBC) also had a tournament-best two home runs.
After qualifying as one of the final 12 teams in the NBC World Series, Dorien Jenkins (Alabama-Huntsville) helped lead Derby to that quarterfinal date with a 3-for-3 performance in its 7-6 win over Haysville. He also drove in three runs in that win.
Jenkins and Whitehouse were joined by Derrick Winn (Angelo State) as the Twins’ top three hitters in the NBC World Series.
A big piece in Derby’s late-season rise was its pitching and it again proved itself at Eck Stadium. No team had a better ERA (2.22) and its 1-2 punch of Michael Mitchell (UC San Diego) and Jake Hammond (LSU-Eunice) combined to allow six earned runs in 31 innings of work.
Kaleb Honea (NW Oklahoma State) didn’t allow a run in nine innings, striking out 10 batters.
“Our pitchers got on the mound, challenged hitters and did what they do best,” Shaw said. “We really had to look at our pitchers, determine innings and the big key to that was a lot of good communication.”
Bryce Donovan (NW Oklahoma State) was also named the tournament’s best catcher after throwing out more base runners than any other catcher.