Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann is no stranger to the NJCAA World Series. He and his Dolphins are making third straight trip to Grand Junction, Colo., where they play Saturday against Yavapai College in their opening game of junior college baseball’s national championship.
Delgado hosted and won the South Central District Tournament last weekend in impressive fashion, outscoring its opponents 31-12 to advance to the school’s fifth World Series.
Now, Scheuermann hopes this club will be able to break through at the World Series where Delgado has gone 0-8 in four previous appearances (1985, 2007, 2014, 2015).
“We can’t worry about what we haven’t done in the past; we have to worry about what we’re going to do in the future,” Scheuermann said. “This club has a totally different attitude than some of the other clubs that I brought up there. A couple of these guys have been there, and that’s going to help. We’re going up there to win. We’re not going up there to just participate.”
Only two starters return from last year’s club — third baseman Owen Magee (.323, 48 RBIs) and catcher Spencer Miller (.277, 34 RBIs). Both players say they believe this year’s team is ready to make a run.
“I think everybody is just a tight knit group this year,” Magee said. “We’re getting hot at the right time. We’ve had our struggles at times, but we’re playing well. Going 3-0 at the regional was huge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at Grand Junction. Hopefully, everybody can just step back, take it all in and have some fun.”
Miller added: “We’ve come together at the right time. We’re playing good baseball right now. We’re in a good spot. Being up there is an amazing experience, and we’re ready to be there. We just have to play in the moment. Defensively, we’re at our best, and that just makes the rest of the team that much more confident.”
Delgado’s stellar defense was on display in the final game of the South Central District Tournament as diving catches and double plays helped power the Dolphins to an 11-4 win and a World Series berth. Sophomore second baseman Brandt Broussard, a transfer from Nicholls State, said the team hasn’t shied away from a challenge.
“I feel like we’re battle tested,” he said. “If we play our game, play good defense and get timely hitting, we’ll be in good shape. We’re not worried about the past history. We’re ready to go up there and do our thing, and I think we’ll be successful.”
The Dolphins (36-14) can hit up and down the lineup. Outfielder Robbie Podorsky leads the team with a .418 average and 22 RBIs, center fielder Daniel Lahare has driven in 46 runs while carrying a .386 average.
Six Dolphins are hitting above .300, and the team boasts a collective .310 batting average.
While the bats have been hot, the pitching of sophomore Evan Hileman (6-2, 4.13 ERA, 68 strikeouts) and freshman Jace Nini (8-4, 4.28 ERA, 57 strikeouts) has anchored the staff. Sophomore Christian Latino (3.45, 26 strikeouts) leads the bullpen.
“Coming in, I expected to make it to the World Series with this team,” said Nini, who is scheduled to start Saturday. “They’ve been doing it for the last couple of years, and I wanted to do that same. We’ve got a lot of confidence right now. When we’re getting runs early, it helps on the mound.”
Delgado will take on Yavapai of Prescott, Arizona, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday to open the World Series. Yavapai (44-19) comes into the game on a nine-game winning streak, thanks to a potent offense that includes a .344 team average and 76 home runs. The Roughriders hit 10 homers in three games in the Western District Tournament including a game-ending grand slam to advance to the World Series.
Scheuermann said his team’s focus is on continuing its solid play from the South Central District Tournament.
“The fact that we walked through the regional this past weekend is important because we played pretty good,” he said. “We’re healthy. We’re playing good. We’re playing with confidence. We feel good. We just have to worry about playing to the best of our abilities and the rest will take care of itself.”