Schedule for the first two days of the 62nd NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 25-June 1, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):
8:30 AM: #8 seed Antelope Valley (44-12-1) vs. #9 Reinhardt (41-18)
Antelope Valley (Lancaster, CA) is making their first appearance at the Baseball National Championship, in only the third season of their program. They won both the regular season and tournament championships of the California Pacific Conference.
Rankings: #17 in coaches' poll, #29 in ISR. Strength of Schedule: #93
Quality wins: 2-2 vs. Lewis-Clark State, Middle Georgia State, 2-1 vs. William Jessup
Top position players: IF Michael Pereznegron (.398), IF Tyler Pittmon (.376, 9 HR, 64 RBI), OF Adam Maciel (.410, 57 RBI), C/1B Nathaniel Broaddus (.318, 8 HR, 42 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Clayton Rabiej (11-0, 3.28 ERA, 93 K), RHP Jacob Castillo (11-0, 4.75 ERA), RHP Jesse Garcia (7-4, 5.30 ERA, 77 K), LHP Chris Gutierrez (3-0, 2.61 ERA)
Coach: Jacob Garsez, third season
Outlook: The Pioneers should win this one, but if they do, Saturday night's game against Faulkner will be a challenge.
Reinhardt (Waleska, GA) is one of five teams making their first appearance at the Baseball National Championship. The Eagles and Freed-Hardeman are tied for fourth in the NAIA in team fielding, with a .971 average.
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #14 in ISR. Strength of Schedule: #24
Quality wins: 1-1 vs. Middle Georgia State, 2-1 vs. Campbellsville
Top position players: OF Kaleb Swayze (.356, 10 HR, 45 RBI), 1B Sherman Graves (.316, 10 HR, 55 RBI), IF Jacob Cagle (.256, 12 HR, 49 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Heriberto Casasola (Panama City, Panama; 6-2, 2.25 ERA, 48 K), RHP Dylan Powers (11-3, 2.62 ERA), 80 K), RHP Jason Gifford (9-3, 3.32 ERA, 85 K)
Coach: John Harris, first season
Outlook: The Eagles are happy to be here.
The Piratas de Campeche (15-23) defeated the Bravos de León (22-17) 8-3 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on May 6. The loss ended an 11-game winning streak for the Bravos.
Bravos starter Alejandro Soto struck out the first two batters he faced, and was one strike short of striking out the side. Instead, DH Olmo Rosario hit one over the left field fence. The next batter, 2B Henry Alejandro Rodriguez, hit a double, and scored on a single by Jovan Rosa. The Bravos got a run in the bottom of the first when LF Felix Pie scored when DH Quincy Latimore reached on a fielder's choice. The Bravos got two more on a single by RF Cedric Hunter, and led 3-2 after one inning.
The Bravos didn't score again. The closest they came was in the bottom of the fifth, when CF Junior Lake drew a walk with two out, then stole second base. However, the inning ended with Latimore striking out.
The Saraperos (Serape Makers) de Saltillo (5-10) defeated the Bravos de León (6-9) 6-3 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on April 8.
The Bravos started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI double by 1B Brandon Macias; the Saraperos’ third baseman, Christian Zazueta, got a piece of the ball, but it deflected into left field. The Saraperos answered with two runs in the top of the third on an RBI single by LF Jose Manuel Orozco followed by a sacrifice fly by RF Rainel Rosario. The Saraperos got the rest of the runs they needed in the top of the fourth; an RBI single by C Jibran Castro, and a two-run home run by Steve Carrillo for the winning run.
The Bravos got their second run of the game on a home run by LF Felix Pie in the bottom of the fifth. Christian Zazueta hit an RBI double in the top of the eighth, and CF Junior Lake, who reached base when he was hit by a pitch, completed the scoring by coming home on a sacrifice fly by RF Cedric Hunter in the bottom of the eighth.
The Guerreros de Oaxaca (2-1) defeated the Bravos de León (1-2) 17-3 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on March 25.
These two teams played 14 innings the previous night, with the Guerreros winning 4-3. This game was close for only two innings. With two out in the bottom of the first, SS Yuniesky Betancourt hit a single. 3B Hector Gomez followed with a double, then 1B Luis Alfonso Garcia sent both of them home with a single.
Bravos starter LHP Orlando Lara should have gotten out of the second inning without any damage, but Bravos SS Amadeo Zazueta bobbled a double-play ball, and LF Raymundo Torres scored. Cedric Hunter made a great catch in right field to end the inning.
The Bravos got on the board with an RBI single by Zazueta in the bottom of the third. Lara was replaced by RHP Andrew Gutierrez (West Covina, CA, college ball at Indiana State) in the top of the fourth, and all hell broke loose. He didn't make it through the inning. He walked 2B Jaime Brena, who then stole second, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a balk. Bravos Manager Luis Rivera objected to the call, and was ejected. The Guerreros followed with two singles, an RBI single by Garcia, another RBI single by C Carlos Paulino, and a two-RBI triple by Torres. Felix Pie ran into the center field fence attempting to field the ball hit by Torres, was injured, and had to leave the game. The Guerreros finished the inning with five runs, and led 8-1.
The Florida Memorial University Lions (Miami Gardens, FL), who went 18-70 over the past two seasons, are 17-9 as of the day this was published, with a series sweep of Warner. They are the top-ranked team in the Black College Nine's small school poll. They are going into a Sun Conference series at Ave Maria (Paywalled streaming video).
Their Coach is Tino Burgos, who is in his second season. He played college ball at Florida International, and coached at Hialeah Gardens Senior High School for eight years.
The player that is turning heads for the Lions is DH Sergio Chil, who came to Florida Memorial from Havana via ASA College in Miami. A junior, he is batting .488.
Chil's relocation to Miami was facilitated by Rangers scout Jose Rafael Fernandez, who is a good friend of Chil's father. Prior to going to ASA College, he was a student at Mártires de Barbados, a school in Havana for high performance athletes. He describes his training there as "strong and intense". During his first season at ASA College, he batted .450. This season, he has done a lot of work in the batting cage with hitting coach Yunieski Gurriel, learning to let the pitches come to him and hit more to right field. He says that he gets a lot of positive energy from Coach Burgos.
The Águilas Cibaeñas (Dominican Republic) got a brilliant start from RHP Bryan Evans, and a two-run home run by Junior Lake, and defeated the Alazanes de Granma (Cuba) 7-1 in a well-played Caribbean Series game at Estadio de los Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Águilas got on the board in the bottom of the first when LF Junior Lake drew a walk, stole second, and scored on a double by 1B Edwin Espinal. That was all the scoring for the first four innings. The Águilas got a double play in the top of the fourth, and the bottom of the fourth ended with a good play by SS Yordan Manduley. The Alazanes pulled starter Vladimir Baños after three innings, even though he was doing OK. He allowed four hits, walked two, struck out four, and got the loss.
The Águilas got the winning run on the two-run home run by Lake in the bottom of the fifth. The Alazanes got their only run of the game on a home run by CF Roel Santos in the top of the sixth.
The Criollas de Caguas (Puerto Rico) defeated the Caribes de Anzoátegui (Venezuela) 12-7 with an offensive explosion in a Caribbean Series game at Estadio de los Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The barrage began in the top of the first inning, with DH Johnny Monell hitting an RBI single, followed by a three-run home run by 3B David Vidal. CF Rusney Castillo added a two-run home run in the second inning, Monell hit an RBI double, and Vidal hit an RBI single. SS Jesmuel Valentin hit an sacrifice fly in the third, and the Criollas led 9-0 after 2 1/2 innings. However, the Caribes ended the shutout in the bottom of the third with RBI singles by RF Rene Reyes and 1B Balbino Fuenmayor. They added another run in the fourth on an RBI single by CF Rafael Ortega, and this chased Criollas starter David Richardson.
Caribes starter Carlos Teller was replaced by Yelper Castillo in the second inning, and he was effective at preventing further damage. He went 3 1/3 innings, allowed five hits, and the only run he allowed was Valentin's sacrifice fly. Meanwhile, Richardson's replacement, Fernando Cruz, pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings. Nelvin Fuentes pitched the seventh inning for the Criollas, allowed one hit. Yender Caramo relieved Castillo, allowed one hit in two innings. The score was 9-3 after seven innings.
The Águilas Cibaeñas (Dominican Republic) led the whole way in a 6-3 win over the Criollas de Caguas (Puerto Rico) in a Caribbean Series game at Estadio de los Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The scoring started in the first inning with a two-RBI single by1B Edwin Espinal. It was set up by a double steal. In the second inning, SS Abiatal Avelino hit an RBI single, CF-RF Juan Carlos Pérez hit a sacrifice fly, and LF Junior Lake hit an RBI single. Criollas starter Giovanni Soto was relieved after failing to record an out in the second inning, and the Águilas led 5-0. Pérez' sacrifice fly became the winning run.
News from Saint Xavier University: One of the most exciting World Series in recent memory came to a close Wednesday night with the Houston Astros claiming their first championship in franchise history, and for the first time a Saint Xavier alumnus was right in the middle of the celebration.
Astros reliever Luke Gregerson (2003-06) became the first Cougar to be on a World Series-winning team after the game seven victory, the highlight of his nine seasons in the Major Leagues. The 2014 SXU Hall of Fame inductee made two appearances in the World Series, first in a thrilling Game 5 in which Gregerson inherited two runners but struck out Los Angeles' Chris Taylor to end the threat. Houston would go on to come back later that night to win in extra innings, taking a 3-2 lead in the series. Gregerson also came on in the 8th inning of Game 6 to pitch two-thirds of an inning, recording one strikeout.
The Leones de Yucatán (Mérida) (45-60, first place in South Division) defeated the Bravos de León (63-42) 5-1 at Estadio Domingo Santana in León on August 17. The win gives the Leones a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round playoff series.
Four Leones pitchers, RHP Jose Samayoa, RHP Jesus Barraza, RHP Pedro Rodriguez, and RHP Ronald Belisario, held the Bravos to three hits. The starter, Samayoa, didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning. That was a double by SS Niko Vasquez, who scored the Bravos’ only run of the game on a single by 3B Miguel Torrero. The Bravos didn’t get another hit until the bottom of the ninth, a double by CF Junior Lake. Lake was stranded on third base when the game ended.