BY JIM MISUNAS
HUTCHINSON – An 11th-hour invitation has the Great Bend Bat Cats packing their bags for the 2021 NBC Baseball World Series. The Bat Cats (27-15) will play Austin (Texas) Lonestar at noon Wednesday at Hobart-Detter Field.
The Bat Cats' went down battling at Sunday's NBC Midwest Baseball Regional. The Bat Cats loaded the bases with the tying runner on base in the final two innings in a 7-5 loss to the Derby Twins.
The Bat Cats trailed 7-2 before rallying. Micah Grover and Brett Freiberg delivered RBI singles in the eighth inning. Alex Rodgers scored on a ninth-inning wild pitch.
The Bat Cats loaded the bases with one out in both innings before the final two outs were recorded. Tyler Henry and Kyle Gates were retired in the eighth and Connor Allen and Brett Freiberg hit fly outs in the ninth.
"They're a bunch of fighters," said Bat Cats coach Roger Ward. "We had a chance. We found a way to climb back into the game. We kept putting pressure on them. We've got a good baseball club."
Great Bend left 12 baserunners stranded after delivering 13 hits and 17 baserunners.
Grover scored on Henry's second-inning groundball. Spinn singled home Rogers after Austin Bonnel delivered a perfect fifth-inning hit-and-run single.
Derby's Kirk Wolf scored on a third-inning sacrifice fly. Cade Baker and Hunter Igo scored a pair of unearned fifth-inning runs for a 3-2 lead off Bat Cats starter Jake Kuntzendorf (5-2). A leadoff error triggered a four-run seventh-inning off reliever Zach Thornton. Nick Thibodeau, Chuck Ingram hit RBI singles and two runs scored on Chris Powell's single for a 7-2 lead.
Zane Spinn led the Bat Cats with four consecutive hits. He batted .500 with 9 of 18 hitting in the Midwest Regional. Jordan Maxson (8 for 17, .470); Connor Allen (7 for 17, .412); Alex Rodgers (8 for 20, .400) and Kyle Gates (6 for 17, .352) all enjoyed strong batting performances.
Derby (26-21) clinched a NBC World Series berth along with Sunflower Collegiate champion Hutchinson Monarchs, Sunflower runner-up Wichita Sluggers and the Cheney Diamond Dawgs, last year's NBC World Series runner-up. The Liberal Beejays, Hays Larks and Wichita 316 Elite also qualified from Kansas.
"Hopefully, we can finish higher than ninth in our two previous trips," said Ward. "The Bat Cats have been a positive for our community. We couldn’t do it without all the incredible help. Thank you for the support."
GB Bat Cats 010 010 021 – 5 13 3
Derby Twins 001 020 40x – 7 10 2
Kuntzendorf, Thornton (7), Stich (7) and Allen. Lindemann, Keech (8), Shepherd (9) and Baker. W–Lindemann, 5-1. L–Kutzendorf, 5-2. 2B–GB–Spinn, Rodgers.
2021 MIDWEST REGIONAL
HUTCHINSON, HOBART DETTER
8-2–G12–Wichita Sluggers 10, Cheney 7
8-1–G10–Derby Twins 7, Bat Cats 5; G11–Cheney 10, Derby 0
7-31–G7–Bat Cats 6, Dodge City A's 5; G8–Derby Twins 7, Haysville Aviators 3; G9–Wichita Sluggers 6, Cheney 3
7-30—G6—Bat Cats 9, Hutchinson Monarchs 8; G4—Wichita Sluggers 3, Dodge City A's 2; G5–Cheney 5, Haysville Aviators 2
7-29–G2–Haysville Aviators 9, Great Bend Bat Cats 4; G1—Dodge City A’s 6, Derby Twins 5; G3—Cheney Diamond Dawgs 3, Hutchinson Monarchs 2
2021 NBC WORLD SERIES
HUTCHINSON, HOBART DETTER
G7–8/4–Great Bend Bat Cats (27-15) vs. Lonestar, Texas, noon
G5–8/4–Cheney Diamond Dawgs (28-18) vs Boulder (Colo.) Collegians, 3 p.m.
G6–8/4–Liberal BeeJays (28-6) vs. Derby Twins (26-21), 6 p.m.
G8–8/4–Wichita 316 Elite vs. Seattle Studs (28-16), 9 p.m.
G2–8/5–Wichita 316 Sluggers (28-12) vs. Puerto Rico, noon
G3–8/5–Hays Larks (29-6) vs. Mid-Crest (Ill.) Pumas (12-29), 3 p.m.
G4–8/5–Hutchinson Monarchs (31-11) vs. San Diego (Calif.) Stars (14-10), 6 p.m.
G1–8/5–Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters (30-7) vs. Waco (Texas) Sultanes, 9 p.m.
G9–8/7–Losers G1, G2
G10–8/7–Losers G3, G4
G11–8/6–Losers G5, G6
G12–8/6–Losers G7, G8
G13–8/7–Winners G1, G2
G14–8/7–Winners G3, G4
G15–8/6–Winners G5, G6
G16–8/6–Winners G7, G8