They have much in common, not the least of which is an uncommon penchant for winning lots of baseball games. But the mutual admiration Delgado Community College coach Joe Scheuermann and Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) Community College coach Adam Thomas have for one another has been formed somewhat impersonally and mostly from afar, rather than on the same fields of play.
That changes just a bit Saturday night at 8:30 CDT, when No. 1 Chattahoochee Valley (47-9) takes on No. 2 Delgado (43-11) in the opening round of the 10-team, double-elimination National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.
In his 24 years as coach of the Dolphins, Scheuermann has compiled an 830-415 record with eight Region XXIII titles in the past nine seasons. He is in his second trip to the World Series, the first coming in 2007. Adams has helmed the Chattahoochee Valley program for 15 seasons, during which the Pirates have gone 537-303-1, and 89-21 over the past two seasons. This is CVCC’s debut World Series appearance during Adams’ tenure — “our first rodeo,” as he puts it.
Interestingly, Delgado’s roster is comprised mostly of New Orleans-area players, while Chattahoochee, whose Phenix City, Alabama, campus is close to the Georgia state line and is heavily dotted with players from metropolitan Atlanta, have played just once previously since their respective coaches assumed command. That was in 2004, and it was just a fall scrimmage game that didn’t count in the teams’ overall records.
Asked what he knew about this season’s edition of the Dolphins, Adams said, “Very little. We’ve played them just that one time. But I know Joe Scheuermann has a very good program year in and year out.”
Scheuermann catches that verbal bouquet and tosses it right back. He said he looks forward to his team pitting its strengths against those of the only team ranked above his, and, oh, yeah, matching wits with a coach as proven as Adams.
“We’re very excited about it,” Scheuermann said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. We have a little idea about what they’re about and they have a little idea about what we’re about. That should make for an even better game.”
Each team’s ace pitcher — Delgado left-hander Chase Hymel (8-0, 2.28 ERA) and Chattahoochee right-hander Dalton Rentz (12-2, 1.58 ERA) — get the call in a contest that seemingly is more suited for a grand finale than an opening act, but that’s how the brackets were drawn up beforehand and, hey, you play the hand you’re dealt. If something is meant to be, it’s meant to be. Dates with destiny needn’t always come at the moment of optimum suspense.
Make no mistake, Scheuermann believes these Dolphins are coated with their fair share of magical pixie dust. Take Delgado’s opening game in last week’s South Central Regional tournament in Neosho, Missouri. The Dolphins trailed, 3-2, in the bottom of the eighth when shortstop Troy Lewis, who had not hit a home run all season, cleared the fence with a solo shot to tie the game. Delgado went on to win, 4-3, on a walk-off single by Cody Ducote in the ninth.
“I believe in destiny,” Scheuermann said. “I’ve been around sports long enough to know that things happen that make you scratch your head. I think that’s one of those seasons we have going on now. Our kids are starting to buy into it, that what we need to happen is going to happen whenever it has to happen.
“It starts with believing. If you don’t believe, you’re not going to get it done.”
The bodies of work compiled by Hymel and Rentz suggest a low-scoring affair, but you never know what wild cards fickle destiny has in its deck. There is enough firepower packed in each team’s lineup to make for a wild-scoring slugfest, too.
But Scheuermann and Adams, their thin scouting reports notwithstanding, aren’t going to change much, if anything, at this late date. And, really, why should they? They are who and what they are, and their records reflect that that has been very good indeed.
“It’s great to know as much as you can about your opponent, but at the same time is it really going to change what you do?” Adams said. “We’re going to throw our best guy and either he’s going to be good enough, or not. We’re going to put our regular lineup out there and either it’s good enough, or not.
“It is helpful to know certain things, but as far as our basic approach, it’s still Chattahoochee Valley baseball whether we’re playing Delgado, the New York Yankees or the Bad News Bears.”
Scheuermann agreed with that premise, saying, “We’re not going to do anything different. We’re going to do what we do and they’re going to do what they do. That ought to make for a great game to watch.”