Owner and Coach Rick Twyman, of the Wellington Heat baseball franchise, was busy over the Memorial Day holiday weekend registering incoming late arrivals for the 2018 Kansas Collegiate League summer baseball season.
It is a busy job, more so because many players have post- season duties with their respective schools to finish up.  Invariably, the games start before the whole roster arrives in town, which requires Twyman’s presence at his usual position in the third base coaching box.
The Heat founder was indeed present as Wellington opened the season last Saturday and Sunday night at Hibbs-Hooten stadium with victories over the Diamond Dawgs of Cheney. Both games featured late inning scoring by the Heat to secure the one-run wins, 5-4 Saturday and 6-5 Sunday night.
“We’ll be good this year,” Twyman predicted after Sunday’s win. “Even better when all the guys get here.”
After the available players helped out with the Avenue of Flags, Twyman spent part of Memorial Day welcoming Texas A&M Corpus Christy teammates John Gaddis, a left-handed pitcher, and two outfielders, Harrison Dinicola, and a player with the unforgettable handle of Itchy Burts.
Southwestern College will staff no less than eight players, including five pitchers on the Heat squad this year to take highest representation honors with Southwest Christian following closely with four hurlers on the contingent of six players from the school.
McMurray University is well represented along with a sprinkling of other players from many schools to the south of Kansas. One high schooler will toil in the ranks of the Heat. Kaden Twyman will spot up in the infield for his dad in this, his second season in uniform. And, in keeping functions in the family, Kylee Twyman, Kaden’s sister, will serve as Heat General Manager.
Kyle Vail, Chad Brown, Cody Neer, and local stalwart Ron Metzen are Twyman’s assistant coaches. Chad Gil will work out the kinks as the Team Chiropractor.
Once all the players are assembled it is clear that Twyman will have fielding at the top of his to-do list at practice. “We have to clean it up,” Twyman said after taking a hard look at the effort against the Dawgs last weekend. “Way too many errors.”
The Heat had a total of six errors in the two game against Cheney including an ugly four boots Sunday night.
However, it was the Dawgs who committed the errors in the bottom of the seventh Sunday that enabled Wellington to overcome a three-run deficit and tie the score, 5-5.
Three errors sandwiched around a wild pitch and Nolan Beets RBI single turned the trick for Twyman, who before the at-bats in the inning called for base runners. “Let’s see what you got!” cajoled the head coach and bats were indeed connected with baseballs and the Diamond Dawgs infield did the rest.
Jon Murray of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh took the mound in the eighth inning and blanked the Dawgs the rest of the way to give Wellington it’s walk-off opportunity in the bottom of the ninth.
Murray State Community College teammates Ricky Lewis and Mason Brinkley had the answer with Lewis working a base-on-balls to open the home half. After advancing to second on yet another wild pitch, Brinkley brought him home with the winning run, singling sharply to center.
It may have been an even more exciting finish in the Saturday night clash where the Heat found themselves in a 4-4 tie when, with two outs in the ninth, Joe Rankin gained first base courtesy of an error by the Dawg shortstop. Outfielder Alex Koch, another Wisconsin-Oshkosh product, laced a double to score Rankin and give the Heat the 5-4 walk-off win in the opener.
The scrappy bunch of never-say-die young men who comprise the Heat squad show promise and potential to provide plenty of entertainment in the sixth year of residence for the Wellington franchise.
The Denver Cougars were in town for a Tuesday night match-up and will continue with a Wednesday game at Hibbs-Hooten stadium. All games begin at 7:05 p.m..