DOLPHIN TALE 3: Delgado hoping to snap streak in third trip to JUCO
Delgado Community College is back.
The New Orleans, Louisiana, college is making its third straight appearance in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, but the Dolphins hope the third time is the charm when it comes to winning.
After going 0-4 the past two years, coach Joe Scheuermann has high hopes for this team.
“Our kids now have 50 games and they’ve learned how to play and understand what we’re teaching them. We were a very inexperienced team that has gotten better,” Scheuermann said. “We’re a much better club this week than we were last week.”
The Dolphins depend on being fundamentally sound and playing good hard-nosed baseball.
“We are very vanilla and meat and potato but we’re not going to beat ourselves,” he said.
The coach, who is in his 25th year with the program and is one win away from No. 900, has a simple definition for Delgado’s success this year.
“We catch ground balls and throw strikes, and we hit the ball pretty well,” he said. “We can steal a base or two and we’ll play the small game sometimes.”
The Dolphins’ success begins with good defense up the middle with shortstop Tyler Thompson, second baseman Brandt Broussard, center fielder Daniel Lahare and catcher Spencer Miller.
Those four players have combined for only 20 errors.
Scheuermann said the key to their pitching success is that they don’t give a lot of free passes. The team has only issued 106 walks on the season, striking out 318 batters.
“We don’t walk a lot of people and we have a good defense,” he said.
The Dolphins have quality starters in Evan Hileman, Jace Nini and Spencer Veit. Scheuermann still isn’t sure who will start the first game.
Hileman leads the team with 68 strikeouts and Nini leads the team with 64 1/3 innings.
All the team’s starters are right-handers, but the Dolphins have three quality left-handers who come out of the bullpen.
The Dolphins caught a tough break when they lost one of their top starters to an injury during the season.
But they got some good news when outfielder Robbie Podorsky returned from injury. He is still one of the team leaders in runs scored and leads the team with 15 stolen bases.
“We learned to play without him and we’re a better team because of that, and now that he’s back we’re better,” Scheuermann said.
Offensively, the Dolphins score a little more than seven runs a game. The middle of the Dolphins’ lineup has some power and is key to their offense.
Daniel Lahare, J.P. LaGreco and Owen Magee have combined for 132 RBI. Magee, who is one of the few returners from last year’s team, leads the team 14 doubles and 48 RBI.
The Dolphins played good baseball down the stretch, winning 18 of their final 25 games.
Even though the Dolphins will be making their fifth trip to JUCO, it was an especially memorable South Central District championship game. It was the first time the team punched its ticket to JUCO and dogpiled on their home field in New Orleans.
Most of the 2016 Dolphins were not on the squad that came to Grand Junction last year.
That means the coach will have to keep them focused on the game and not the stage.
“I call it the gaga effect, they have stars in their eyes and look around, and not look at that task at hand,” he said. “These are all new kids, it’s a new process every year for the players.”
Scheuermann said the program’s success has helped the Dolphins get better players.
“We got our program going in the right direction. It shows that we have solidified the program and solidified ourselves nationally as good team,” he said.