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Hutchinson Monarchs win NBC opener

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, July 28, 2012, at 9:45 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, August 12, 2012, at 8:16 a.m.

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NBC World Series

Sunday’s Schedule

Free tickets at hotelinwichita.com locations

Liberal-Omaha loser vs. Denver Davy Jones Cardinals, 10:30 a.m.

Newton Rebels vs. Colorado Impact Sports, 1 p.m.

Tulsa Cardinals vs. St. Joseph (Mo.) Mustangs, 5

Arvada (Colo.) Colts vs. Dodge City A’s, 7:30

Tulsa Braves vs. Kansas Cannons, 10

More information

Thrilling company

Hutchinson Monarchs coach Deron McCue reached Triple-A in the San Francisco Giants organization, where he was a roommate of Will Clark’s in 1985 with Class-A Fresno. They were also teammates in Triple-A briefly the following year, when Clark got promoted to the major leagues to stay. Clark went on to bat .303 in 15 major-league seasons, and McCue played parts of three seasons in Triple-A before finishing his career there in 1988.

McCue also played in the NBC with the Hutchinson Broncos alongside another former Giants star, Barry Bonds. He coached in the Giants organization and has led the Monarchs to the NBC tournament the last two years, and their win over the Davy Jones Cardinals was their first winner’s bracket victory in three appearances.

Let’s run

The home run by Scott Splett in the ninth inning was the Monarchs’ first extra-base hit. Hutchinson was satisfied with using its speed on the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium turf to score, like in the fourth when it had a pair of infield hits in its two-run frame. The Monarchs didn’t get many chances to get creative on the bases because their offense was dormant for much of the game, but that didn’t keep them from trying. They stole a base to get a runner into scoring position in the sixth but failed to score.

"We played here two weeks ago (in the Midwest regional) so some of the guys have been here before," McCue said. "It’s a different ballgame. If you stay on the ground and (hit) line drives and hit the ball in the gaps, you’re going to score a few runs here. It’s different than grass _ the ball will get on you and the ball will get through _ sometimes on grass the ball won’t get through. If you stay on the ground, you’ll have a chance."

Monkee business

The Davy Jones Cardinals, who lost their first-round game Saturday against the Hutchinson Monarchs, are not connected to the Monkees frontman of the same name. They’re named after the Davy Jones Bat Co., which was founded by the early-20th century baseball player’s great grandson, and they play home games in Denver. The baseball-playing Davy Jones was a teammate of Ty Cobb for eight seasons with the Detroit Tigers.

The Cardinals aren’t a new team to the NBC, but their name is. They were formerly Play Ball Sports and a fixture in the tournament’s recent years — they’ve been in the field for four straight summers. The organization runs an academy that features teams in various age groups, and their NBC entry is their 19-and-under team. The program has produced five major-league players, most notably Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Former Wichita State and current Wingnuts left-hander Anthony Capra is a Play Ball alumnus.

Young man’s game

Luke Stratman is among the youngest players in this year’s tournament, but that didn’t keep him from making an impact in his debut. Stratman, batting leadoff for Davy Jones, collected four singles and scored the first run of the tournament. Stratman, who will be a high school senior, batted .391 in the spring with 11 doubles, five triples and a home run. He turns 18 in August.

Stratman is perhaps most recognized in his home state for his basketball ability, though. He was fourth team All-State by ESPNHS in 2011, when he averaged better than 24 points. Stratman helped D’Evelyn advance to the final eight in Colorado’s Class 4A after he averaged 27.5 points in the first two games. He plays for Team Denver, a club team that travels to national events.

Hutchinson Monarchs outfielder Scott Splett is in his second year with the collegiate summer baseball team, but he hasn’t let learned to delegate.

After hitting a ninth-inning, three-run home run that powered the Monarchs to a 6-3 win on Saturday over the Davy Jones Cardinals from Denver, Splett grabbed the biggest equipment bag the team has and lugged it down the third-base line.

Splett’s humility and unassuming nature allows Hutchinson coach Deron McCue to use him in a variety of ways with the assurance that Splett won’t fuss.

Splett has the ability to hit in the middle of the order, but his versatility is an asset in the leadoff spot, where he hit to lead the Monarchs to a win in the National Baseball Congress World Series opener at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Carrying equipment wasn’t a big deal for Splett, nor was carrying out a successful approach in his clutch at-bat in the ninth.

“I’m just part of the team,” Splett said. “I might as well carry my part of it, too.”

Splett signed with South Dakota State after he played at Iowa Central Community College last season, and his homer Saturday gave him the team record with five in two years. Splett is the team’s most notable power threat, but his aptitude allows him to be successful in many situations for the Monarchs in a variety of ways.

That well-roundedness was in effect Friday, when he bunted for a single in the third. Splett was probably the perfect player to have at-bat with two runners in scoring position and no outs in the ninth, when virtually all he needed to do was put the ball in play to produce a run.

Cardinals closer Kaden Koch was struggling in his third inning on relief, and by the ninth his off-speed pitches had lost their bite. After a wild pitch on a slider scored the tying run, Koch grooved a fastball that Splett deposited over the wall in left field.

“He can hit 1 through 5 (in the batting order),” McCue said. “He adjusts to wherever he bats in the lineup and he does a good job. If I’ve got him leading off, he knows how to get on base, but if I’ve got him in the three-hole he’ll hit for power, too.”

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