Nathan Blackwood is going into his seventh season as Head Coach of the defending NAIA Champion Lubbock Christian Chaparrals. His career record is 281-89. He played for the Chaparrals as an undergraduate, and also coached at Harding University.
Bob Broughton, The College Baseball Blog: The defending NAIA champion is someone other than Lewis-Clark State this year. Has this idea caught on in Lubbock yet?
Nathan Blackwood, Lubbock Christian: I think so. The Lubbock community has always been extremely supportive of LCU Baseball and has really done a good job of welcoming and recognizing these student athletes. This is a baseball town and has been for a long time. The people here can really appreciate an accomplishment like this.
CBB: You sent three players to pro ball this year, Rene Garcia (White Sox), Will Stramp (Reds), and Jakob Cunningham (independent league Shreveport-Bossier Captains). How are they doing?
NB: All three are doing really well. Will and Rene got off to slow starts, but came around better towards the end. Jakob started and finished well and was selected to the league all-star game. He is currently back in Lubbock finishing up his degree, but will return towards the end of next spring.
Results from Day 4 of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID:
Lee 5, Berry 3 (Berry eliminated)
Brandon Cuniff and Josh Rose combined for a three-hitter that took only two hours and 15 minutes to play. Cuniff pitched the first 5 1/3 innings, allowed two runs on three hits, struck out three. Rose pitched the remaining 3 2/3 innings, allowed one run on one hit, struck out four. Cuniff got the win, and Rose got a save.
The Vikings opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with a solo home run by 1B Andrew Starr, but the Flames took the lead for good with a two-run home run by DH Junior Rodriguez in the top of the fourth. They added one in the fifth on an RBI double by SS Brian Bistagne, and the Vikings answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth when LF Jacob Lamar scored on a ground out.
Interview with Lee University Flames Head Coach Mark Brew, at the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID:
Bob Broughton: The fans here just got to see a pretty good ball game between Lee and Fresno Pacific.
Mark Brew: That was a great game. That’s what happens in the losers’ bracket, when you get two teams fighting for their lives, it gets exciting, the drama and things like that. Both teams played extremely well. Some big pitches, some big hits. [Chris] Warters got a big hit. He’s a senior All-American, and you sort of expect him to do those things. Javier Lopez was good on the mound, at the end, he’s also a senior All-American, and in the end, we had the right guys in the right positions. Also, Trey Burstrom, a junior second baseman, had a big, big double. He’s a nine-hole hitter, and he sort of got us going.
Brian Danner does radio coverage of Lewis-Clark State baseball, and all games of the NAIA Baseball National Championsip, for KOZE, 950 AM in Lewiston, ID. All games are webcast by KOZE. Here’s an interview with Brian:
Bob Broughton: How long has Lewis-Clark State had radio coverage of their games?
Brian Danner: KOZE-AM has been following the Lewis-Clark State program for the better part of three decades. Gene Hamblin and Mike Ripley were and are the pioneers of the broadcasts. They saw early on the interest in L-C baseball and were able to convince sponsors that the product would be good business for them – it was, and in my opinion, still is. Lewiston has always been a baseball town. Very educated fans with a high baseball IQ. The late Dwight Church built a powerhouse legion program that still is among the best in the state on an annual basis. Kids become involved with the game at a very early age, and for the most part stick with it into adulthood, whether as fans or softball all-stars.
Terry Puhl, Field Manager of Canada’s entry in the 2008 Olympics, was a Major League outfielder for 15 seasons with the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals. He was a National League All Star in 1978 and played in the 1980 National League Championship Series vs. Philadelphia, setting a then-NLCS record with a .526 batting average. He holds the Major League record for career fielding percentage (.993).
Puhl’s day job is Coach of the University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars, an NAIA program entering its second year. He gave this interview on his way home from Beijing.
Bob Broughton, The College Baseball Blog: Do you think that baseball should be an Olympic sport?
Terry Puhl, Houston-Victoria: Yes; however, emphasis must be put on two areas. First, the qualifying structure must be as good as what was used for 2008. That makes sure the best countries are there. Secondly, MLB must be a part of the baseball planning going forward. Getting the “best” players in the world to the Games is a priority with the IOC.