By Travis Mounts
The Cheney Diamond Dawgs are one step closer to the National Baseball Congress World Series championship.
The Diamond Dawgs beat Sunflower Collegiate League rival Derby Twins 4-2 in 10 innings on Thursday. Cheney’s 2 runs in the top of the 10th were the difference in the game.
A Derby error allowed lead-off hitter Wade Raburn to get on base. He advanced to third base on Kyler Castillo’s single to center field. That led to a Derby pitching change.
Castillo then went to second base on a wild pitch, followed by Andrew Miller’s strike out. Derby then intentionally walked Tresten Kennard, loading the bases. Scott Hastings came through for the Diamond Dawgs with a 2-run single to left field that sent Raburn and Castillo across home plate.
Derby got a lead-off double in the bottom of the 10th. But reliever John Shull came through, striking out the next two batters. Shortstop Blake Rambusch then fielded a ground ball, throwing to Miller at first base for the final out of the game.
Cheney and Derby each scored single runs in the first and second innings. Justin Bundy scored in the first inning for Cheney, and Rambusch scored in the second inning on a single by Raburn.
Both teams were held scoreless after second inning, until the Diamond Dawgs’ scored in the top of the 10th.
Jose Vasquez started the game for the Diamond Dawgs. He pitched six innings, giving up eight hits but just two earned runs. He struck out five against just one walk. Jacob Ehing pitched 1-1/3 innings, allowing no runs and one hit with one strikeout. Shull closed out the game, pitching 2-2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out three and gave up three hits.
Hastings led Cheney with 2 RBI and 2 hits. Raburn and Miller each had an RBI, and Rambusch, Raburn, Castillo, Miller and Ramon Vingochea all recorded hits. Derby outhit Cheney 12-7.
Cheney will play again at 7 p.m. Friday, taking on the Kansas Cannons of the Kansas Collegiate League Baseball, another Wichita-area league. The Cannons earned a 6-2 victory over the Lonestar Baseball Club on Thursday afternoon.
Friday’s other semifinal will feature the Seattle Studs against the San Diego Stars. That game will follow the Diamond Dawgs-Cannons game. Seattle beat Santa Barbara 5-0 on Thursday, while San Diego topped the Fairbanks (Alaska) Goldpanners 6-1.
Friday’s two winners will play in Saturday’s championship game.
The Diamond Dawgs have NBC wins over both teams in the other semifinal. Cheney and Seattle faced off a week ago in the championship week opener for both teams. Jackson Glenn’s grand slam was the difference in Cheney’s 5-4 victory that night. Cheney beat Seattle 8-5 last Saturday.