The 58th NAIA baseball season is already under way, and six games were played in California last weekend. The Golden State Athletic Conference is already playing conference matchups, with #9 Concordia-Irvine at Arizona Christian, Biola at The Master's, and San Diego Christian at Westmont. Ave Maria and Southeastern play Edward Waters and Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Lakeland, FL, Bryan hosts Lindenwood, Cal State San Marcos visits Vanguard, Doane visits Houston-Victoria, and Warner visits Webber International.
Here is an evaluation of the top 10 teams according to the pre-season coaches' poll:
#1 – Faulkner: The defending champions will have returning position players OF Michael Cruz (.355, 13 HR, 68 RBI; he led the Eagles in all three categories, and is a Pre-season All-American), C/IF Sergio Sanchez (.363, 65 RBI), IF Luis Sanchez (.344) and IF Dauris Holguin (.291). Their returning pitchers are RHP Julian Esquibel (11-2, 2.71 ERA), LHP Labradford Griffis (5-0, 2.11 ERA), and RHP Jeremy Holcombe (4-0, 3.19 ERA). They will have three key transfers; OF Willie Allen (Western Oklahoma State), C T.C. Mark (Arizona), RHP Kurt Lipscomb (Jacksonville State), and OF Omar Gomez (New Mexico Junior College). Games to watch: Missouri Baptist Feb. 7-8, Lindsey Wilson Feb. 7, Cumberland Feb. 8, at Tennessee Wesleyan March 5 Live Video
#2 – Lewis-Clark State: The Warriors have Cody Lavalli (.373, 10 HR), who was drafted in 37th round by the Rangers, and is a Pre-season All-American. Other returnees are OF/C Jake Shirley (.340), RHP Michael Noteware (missed most of 2013 with a medical redshirt), RHP Steve Thompson (5-5, 2.49 ERA), and RHP Dave Murillo (5-0, 3.02 ERA, 38 K). Their most impressive recruit is IF Michael Sexton, a freshman drafted in the 38th round by the Mariners. They also have RHP Gunnar Swanson (transfer from Everett CC; he was 9-2, 1.63 ERA with 8 complete games and 88 K there) and OF Raymond Pedrina. Games to watch: British Columbia Feb. 7, Concordia-Portland Feb. 8 and April 4-6, Western Oregon Feb. 21-23, at British Columbia March 7-9, at Western Oregon May 2, 4, at Linfield (Division III champion) May 3 Live Audio
The South defeated the North 11-2 in the 2014 Sun Conference All-Star Game, played Jan. 18 in Babson Park, FL. Four of the South's runs were batted in by Ave Maria C Conor Sullivan, three of them on a bases-loaded double in the sixth inning. The winning run was also scored in the sixth, by Warner RF Justin Burgess on a single by Northwood (FL) DH Angel Garcia. Garcia went 2-for-5 with an RBI for the game.
Sullivan earned a Rawlings Gold Glove for the 2013 season. He batted .277, and wasn't charged with a single error.
The South used ten pitchers for the game, the North nine. The best pitching performance was turned in by Webber International RHP Josh Ganus of the North, who gave up an unearned run, but struck out three of the four batters he faced. Ganus is a transfer from North Carolina A&T, had a good summer with Leesburg of the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
The 2013-14 NAIA Coaches' Preseason poll, released November 12:
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL||2013 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|2||2||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||45-15||507|
|12||6||The Master’s (Calif.)||44-17||345|
|15||20||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||45-20||274|
|16||18||Cal State San Marcos||35-12||256|
|17||RV||Southern Poly (Ga.)||39-18||225|
|19||23||Point Park (Pa.)||39-16||209|
|21||RV||LSU Shreveport (La.)||40-18||188|
|22||RV||San Diego Christian (Calif.)||39-20||133|
|24||RV||William Carey (Miss.)||36-23||117|
|T25||RV||Ave Maria (Fla.)||38-21||116|
First-place votes: Faulkner 18, Lewis-Clark State 1
1B Matt Page of Oklahoma Baptist leads the team. Two players from Northwood (TX) and DH Michael Cruz from defending champion Faulkner.
|Tyler Latham||Bryan||C||Sr.||Spring City, TN|
|Blake Marchant||Grand View||C||Jr.||Indianola, IA|
|Matt Page||Oklahoma Baptist||1B||Sr.||Redwood City, CA|
|Isaac Maturino||Northwood (TX)||2B||Sr.||Grand Prairie, TX|
|Nate Mullins||Bellevue||3B||Sr.||Snohomish, WA|
|Randy Santiesteban||Peru State||SS||Jr.||Hialeah, FL|
|Jordan Crowell||Point Park||UT||Jr.||Milford, OH|
|Seth Neely||Arizona Christian||OF||Sr.||Phoenix, AZ|
|Cody Lavalli||Lewis-Clark State||OF||Sr.||Apple Valley, CA|
|David Kuhne||St. Francis (IL)||OF||Sr.||Metamora, IL|
|Steven Karkenny||The Master’s||OF||Jr.||Chatsworth, CA|
|Michael Cruz||Faulkner||DH||Sr.||Dominican Republic|
|Chris Good||Belhaven||SP||Jr.||Forney, TX|
|Anthony Gomez||Cumberland||SP||Sr.||Norwalk, CA|
|Jarrod Jameson||Tennessee Wesleyan||SP||Sr.||Oklahoma City, OK|
|Stetson Nelson||Embry-Riddle||SP||Jr.||Leesburg, FL|
|Cody Gray||Northwood (TX)||RP||Sr.||Glendale, AZ|
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, has applied for membership in the Division II Sunshine State Conference.
The Eagles have made 12 trips to the National Championship tournament, ten of them in the last 11 seasons, under coaches Greg Guilliams and Randy Stegall. Their best finish was in 2005, when they were runners-up to Oklahoma City.
Joining the Sunshine State Conference would put the Eagles in the same conference with former NAIA opponents Barry and Rollins. The Eagles have been playing non-conference games against Tampa, the defending national Division II champions. The Eagles lost to them 2-1 (ten innings) this season.
Story by Brent Woronoff in the Daytona Beach News-Journal: ERAU makes case to NCAA conference
Concordia-Irvine won the National Championship in 2011. They would be joining former GSAC members Cal Baptist, Point Loma Nazarene, Azusa Pacific, and Fresno Pacific in the PacWest Conference.
Concordia-Portland is the defending champion of NAIA West. The Cavaliers went to the National Championship tournament in 2004. Rob Vance has been their Head Coach for 15 seasons. They have a new, good quality ballpark. They would, if accepted, compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). Whether they can break Western Oregon's long streak of conference championships remains to be seen.
These three schools would continue to complete in the NAIA through the 2015 season.
Georgetown College (KY) has applied for membership in the Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC). A previous application by Georgetown C. was turned down.
The Melville Millionaires won their first-ever Western Major Baseball League championship, defeating the Medicine Hat Mavericks three games to two in the final.
Both teams were loaded with NAIA players. The Millionaires' roster included six players from British Columbia (see picture): Alex Webb, Cam Firth, Tyler Enns, Kevin Biro, Jeremy Newton, and Nathan Kirby. Also Jaime Paxton (Northwood (TX)), Allen Rimer (Bacone), and Chase Medler (Lyon). The Mavericks' roster included four players from Tabor: Alex Mann, Jacob Webb, Grant Silva, and C.J. DeDeaux. The also had Alex Bos (Concordia-Portland), Alex Graham (British Columbia), Kyle McKay (Saint Francis (IN)), Ched Gaskin (Purdue North Central), and Bryan Arthur (British Columbia).
Biro led the Millionaires in hitting during the regular season with a .366 average, and, for the Sabermetricians, 29.668 runs created. Bos led the WMBL with an 8-0 won-lost record. Webb had three starts and three wins during the playoffs, did not allow an earned run in 17 2/3 innings pitched. Silva batted .337 for the Mavericks.
Anthony Armanino of Lewis-Clark State, playing for the Swift Current Indians, had an astonishing 24 strikeouts during three playoff games (19 innings pitched). He had a regular season record of 4-0, 2.25 ERA, 60 strikeouts.
Very funny article by D.J. Gallo at Sports Pickle: NAIA Announces It Will Begin Paying Its Student-Athletes 45 Cents Per Season
Players for NAIA schools taken in the 2013 MLB draft:
RHP Myles Smith, Lee, Red Sox, 4th round story
RHP James Dykstra, Cal State San Marcos, White Sox, 6th story
RHP Calvin Drummond, Arizona Christian, Tigers, 6th story
RHP Nick Blount, Southern Polytechnic, White Sox, 9th story
LF Henry Yates, Texas Wesleyan, Dodgers, 9th story
RHP Jose Samayoa, Lee, Rangers, 9th story
RHP Andy Hillis, Lee, Brewers, 11th story
CF Jimmy Bosco, Menlo, Cardinals, 13th story
RHP Fabian Roman, Lubbock Christian, Reds, 16th story
LHP Clint Terry, Lee, Brewers, 18th story
CF Michael Carballo, Tennessee Wesleyan, White Sox, 18th
LHP Cory Bafidis, Texas Wesleyan, Nationals, 18th story
SS Christian Vasquez, Lubbock Christian, Blue Jays, 19th story
LHP Cole Swanson, Concordia-Irvine, Angels, 19th
LF Jon Kemmer, Brewton-Parker, Astros, 21st
RHP Ben Heller, Olivet Nazarene, Cubs, 22nd
SS Chase Jensen, Oklahoma City, Padres, 22nd story
LHP Christopher O'Hare, Fisher, Pirates, 22nd
RHP Cody Harris, The Master's, Marlins, 24th story
C Orrin Sears, Arizona Christian, Braves, 24th story
RHP Johnnie Kirkland, Southeastern, Tigers, 25th
C Kyle Wheeler, Belhaven, A's, 26th
RHP Ricky Claudio, St. Thomas (FL), Mariners, 27th
1B Jake Stone, Tennessee Wesleyan, Cardinals, 27th
RHP Jace Chancellor, Lubbock Christian, Padres, 28th (red-shirted this season, made seven appearances for Wayland Baptist in 2012, never played for the Chaparrals) story
RHP Johnny Shuttlesworth, Faulkner, Diamondbacks, 28th
RHP Alex Moore, Lee, Brewers, 28th
LHP Derek Loera, Lubbock Christian, Rays, 28th story
LHP Joey Webb, Menlo, Nationals, 28th story
RHP Justin Sprenger, Tennessee Wesleyan, Rangers, 29th
RHP Blake McMullen, Science and Arts of Oklahoma, A's, 29th
RHP Colton Reavis, Northwood (TX), Rays, 30th
C Joel Thys, Arizona Christian, Diamondbacks, 31st story
RHP Cody Crabaugh, Oklahoma City, Marlins, 32nd story
LHP Eric Greene, Embry-Riddle, Orioles, 36th
OF Cody Lavalli, Lewis-Clark State, Rangers, 37th
RHP Blake McKnight, Evangel, Cardinals, 38th
A huge day for Lee, with five players drafted, three by the Brewers. Also a good day for Lubbock Christian, Arizona Christian and Texas Wesleyan.
1B Matt Page of Oklahoma Baptist was named Player of the Year. National Champion Faulkner had three players named to the first team. The first team includes two Puerto Ricans, and one Dominican Republican. Here's the list: 2013 NAIA Baseball All-Americans Announced
The Faulkner University Eagles won their first-ever NAIA Baseball National Championship, defeating the Lewis-Clark State Warriors 11-4 in the final. RHP Johnny Shuttlesworth got his 16th win of the season, and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. (The record for wins is 19, set by Dan Quisenberry in 1975.) He allowed 14 hits over 7 1/3 innings, but only four earned runs. He threw 122 pitches.
The Eagles got all the runs they needed in the second inning, jumping on Warriors starter RHP Ryan Sells. Sells also plays shortstop for the Warriors (he batted .338 for the season), and this was only his fifth start. The winning run came on a two-RBI single by DH Michael Cruz.
The Warriors had some chances to get back in the game. The best one was in the bottom of the fourth. They started the inning with two straight singles, and had the bases loaded with one out, but the Eagles turned the only double play of the game to get Shuttlesworth out of the jam.
RF David Bishop hit a solo home run in the seventh inning. He was 3-for-5 for the game, with two RBI and two runs scored. Cruz finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Attendance: 4,265