In its first year playing baseball in Kansas, the Haysville Heat is set to take all the automatic berths to the National Baseball Congress World Series that it can.
Already leading the Jayhawk League, in which the champion receives an NBC bid, the Heat captured a berth in the World Series by beating the Derby Twins 10-3 in the championship of the Midwest Regional Thursday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Heat, which previously played in Arizona before moving to Haysville for the start of this season, again established itself as a threat to win the national tournament. During five regional games, the Heat outscored opponents 51-16.
"We wanted to make a statement," Heat outfielder Nate Shaver said.
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After an 11-2 win over the El Dorado Broncos in the final of the winners' bracket on Tuesday, the Heat's offense remained active. Haysville scored at least nine runs in every tournament game, and its output Thursday was the third game scoring double digits.
The Heat does it with contributions from everyone in the lineup. Every starter had at least one hit against Derby and all but designated hitter Ben Harty reached base multiple times. Harty's only hit was a home run to lead off the bottom of the second inning.
"Our whole team contributes, like you've seen throughout the tournament," Shaver said. "Different guys come up with the big hit every night."
Haysville's blowout wins — it won each tournament game by at least four runs and three by seven or more _ are due to an ability to deliver big innings in close games to prevent the opponent from rallying.
Thursday's game was close until the sixth. With a 4-2 lead, the Heat scored five runs to pull away. Most of the damage came with two outs, as Justin Miller drove in a run before Shaver drove a two-run double to the gap in left-center.
After Shaver's hit, K.C. Pfister hit a fly ball to the warning track in center. Ryan Jones looked to be under it, but the ball hit off his glove as he slammed into the wall, rolling away from him. Pfister never stopped, scoring on what was ruled a four-base error.
Against El Dorado on Tuesday, Haysville eliminated suspense by taking a 5-0 lead after two innings.
"That's Heat baseball," manager Dick Twyman said. "Nothing simple about it. The light switch seems like it goes on."
Haysville took advantage of several Derby mistakes, scoring three unearned runs.
Starting pitcher Tucker Stone struggled, but Haysville used its deep pitching staff to hold off Derby after it took a 2-1 lead in the third and tied it 3-3 in the fourth.
Left-hander Keith Rizor pitched four scoreless innings and was perfect except for a fifth-inning single by Jimmy Howick. Rizor struck out three and recorded six groundball outs. Heath Wyatt pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two.
"Our pitchers came in and did their jobs," Shaver said. "Especially out of the pen, they did really well."
Haysville 10, Derby 3
Derby011 100 000 — 3 3 2 Haysville012 015 01x — 10 12 1
Balog, Groom (5), Kelly (7) and Lee. Stone, Rizor (5), Wyatt (9) and Dahl. W—Rizor. L—Balog. HR—Haysville, Harty.
Derby batting — Bayliff 1-3, Howick 1-3, Jones 0-4, Gregorich 0-4, Waddell 0-3, Watten 0-3, Connelly 103, Lee 0-2, Greenwell 0-3.
Haysville batting — Miller 1-5, Shaver 2-3, Pfister 1-5, Stroud 1-4, Harty 1-4, Owens 2-4, Kline 1-4, Kimble 2-4, Dahl 1-3.
Derby pitching — Balog 4-3, Groom 2-3, Kelly 2-1.
Haysville pitching — Stone 4-3, Rizor 4-0, Wyatt 1-0.