There are inherent challenges when it comes to summer college baseball. While there may be familiarity between members of the Twins roster, playing full nine-inning games adds extra layers that take time to develop.
After dropping seven of its first eight games, Derby took three out of four against Newton and jumped back to sixth in the Sunflower Collegiate League standings.
After dropping back-to-back, one-run games to undefeated Cheney earlier in the week, head coach Bill Shaw saw his bats come alive against Newton. The Twins scored 10 or 11 runs in each of their three wins against the Rebels and also reached double-digit hits in each game.
“We’ve been putting up double digit hits game after game now,” Shaw said. “… Hitting is coming and pitching has been better of late. Defensively we’ve booted it around a bit, but we’re getting there.”
2B Cole Romero (LSU Eunice) has emerged as Derby’s leadoff hitter and carries a team-best batting average of .378 through 12 games. The Scott, La., native finished 9-for-19 in the Newton series, including a perfect 4-for-4 night in the series opener.
“Cole has come back [from a minor injury] and he’s just on fire right now,” Shaw said. “He stays within himself and he’s really good at hitting the ball to the opposite field. He was a bit of a free swinger earlier in the summer, but he eats up a lot of pitches now.”
IF/P Tyler Delong has not only emerged as the Twins’ best run producer, but also leads the Sunflower Collegiate League with 18 RBIs. The Hutchinson CC product has knocked in two or more runs in six of their last 10 games. The batter’s box is not the only place where Delong has produced, having also pitched five innings thus far.
“Tyler is a tremendous athlete,” Shaw said. “He has great pull power from the left-handed side, but he’s also disciplined at hitting the ball the other way. He has as many extra base hits going to the opposite field. Just a very, very versatile athlete who can play [multiple positions].”
Shaw said that he and his staff have ironed out a rotation for the rest of the summer. The longtime coach said one of the easiest names to put on that list was SP Tommy Barnhouse (Wichita State).
The Leavenworth, Kan., native has made 45 total appearances and 24 starts for the Shockers. Having seen his senior season erased due to COVID-19, he will return to Eric Wedge’s roster in 2021.
“He’s a veteran pitcher and you can tell it when he steps on the mound,” Shaw said. “He’s got good velocity, but he just knows how to pitch. I sit at the end of the dugout with him a lot and he is a great mentor to our other pitchers. He’ll tell them what pitches need to be thrown in certain situations … he’s educating these young pitchers really well from the dugout.”
P Chase Hamilton (SW Oklahoma State) has made five relief appearances and has only given up one run (0.87 ERA) in 10.1 innings of work.
NOTE: See Sports Report for updated Twins line scores, schedules and statistics.