Tight race for regular season title

Close Play - Seaboard shortstop Mitchell Rogers tags out Chance Carney of Natural Baseball Academy July 5 at Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee, KS.
Close Play – Seaboard shortstop Mitchell Rogers tags out Chance Carney of Natural Baseball Academy July 5 at Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee, KS.

The regular season is almost over with the upcoming games deciding the regular season champion.

UMB Bank and the Milgram Mustangs along with Natural Baseball Academy, Seaboard and the BJ Raiders (featured in the last BJ Beacon) have moved into the upper tier of teams.

Veteran UMB Bank manager Cary Lundy said, “We have a lot of depth, team speed and can swing it. Pitching is keeping us in games.”

The key players for Lundy have been third baseman Daniel LaMunyon, outfielders Austyn Cochran and John Lozano and shortstop Shane Boyer.

“We seem to get clutch hits to drive in runs,” Lundy said. “We put a lot of pressure on other teams with our team speed.”

The Milgram Mustangs have jumped into the fight for the regular season championship.

“I would not be able to point out a secret to our success,” manager Kevin Shaw said. “I think that the schedule has been difficult on a few of the teams when we had nine games in one week and then go a week between games. With that in mind, some of the games have been decided on which team is fresh and not tired.”

He points to the top three hitters in the lineup as key to the Mustangs success so far this season.  Second baseman Chase Watt is hitting .393, scoring 17 runs with nine stolen bases.  Centerfielder Derek Hussey is hitting .311 scoring 16 runs with seven stolen bases.  Designated hitter Drew Standifer is hitting .300 scoring 14 runs with eight stolen bases. The Mustangs catcher Nate Goff has a .417 average with 10 RBIs and third baseman Chad Butler is hitting .333 with nine RBIs.

All the stats are through the first 18 games.

Shaw says he has an unsung player in right-handed pitcher JW McGraw.

“JW sat out all of last year following Tommy John surgery,” Shaw said. “He pitched 11 innings at Longview (Community College) this spring coming into summer ball on a progressive pitch count. He is now at the old form he showed when he was all-state for Odessa High School a couple of years ago.”

Shaw said McGraw has started four games with a 3-1 record and a 1.40 ERA.

“In his only loss, he threw a complete game and gave up one earned run vs. the BJ Raiders opposite the outstanding near no-no by Zach Hutcherson. JW has been one of the biggest surprises of the summer for us.”

Shaw said that McGraw has shown great patience and determination while rehabbing from this arm injury.

“Now he is pitching outstanding again and on the verge of earning a baseball scholarship for his last two years of college,” he said. “Not to mention, he is carrying a 4.0 GPA.”

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