First place votes: Faulkner 8, Georgia Gwinnett 8, Oklahoma City 4, Northwood 1
San Diego Christian (ISR #72) is #1 in strength of schedule.
#1 Faulkner went 2-3 for the week, with two losses to top ten teams. The Eagles lost to #2 Georgia Gwinnett 5-4 (10 innings). The Grizzlies out-hit the Eagles 12-5, but the Eagles got some help from six walks issued by Grizzlies starter Alex Roberts, and a wild pitch by reliever Andy Threatt. Both teams were scoreless from the seventh through the ninth innings; the Eagles left the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, and the Grizzlies left the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Grizzlies reliever Christian Turnipseed pitched the ninth and tenth innings for the Grizzlies, struck out all six batters he faced. The Grizzlies loaded the bases in the bottom of the tenth on three singles, then courtesy runner Ernesto Vasquez scored the winning run when 2B Jereid Woods reached on a bobbled ground ball. Story
The Eagles dropped the first game of a series against Middle Georgia State 3-1, then won the other two games 6-2 and 3-0. The Eagles managed only three hits in the first game against starter Adam Johnson, and were held hitless by reliever Zach Massengale; Johnson got the win. Victor Arche got his tenth win of the season in the second game, pitched eight innings, allowed eight hits, struck out nine. RF Nick Cain hit a two-RBI double in the first inning for the winning run. Story The third game was stopped after five innings by rain. DH Randy Joung hit a sacrifice fly, and 1B Cody Sos hit a two-RBI single. Phillip Anderson got the win, scattered four hits, struck out four. Story
The Eagles then lost 5-4 to #8 Tennessee Wesleyan. The game was tied 4-4 after five innings; 2B Dario Polanco hit a two-run home run for the Eagles. The Bulldogs got the winning run in the top of the ninth when Shell McCain reached on a throwing error, went to second on a bunt, then went home on another throwing error on a ground ball put in play by Wardy Polanco. Taylor Saucedo got the win. Story
The Eagles and #15 Auburn-Montgomery play for the Southern States Athletic Conference pennant in Montgomery April 23-24 (audio). The Warhawks have a two-game lead, so the Eagles need to sweep the series to take the pennant.
After the win over Faulkner, #2 Georgia Gwinnett swept Tougaloo, 7-5, 9-3, Story and 13-4. Story Ty Abbott had six RBI in the series, and he leads the NAIA with 74 RBI. The Grizzlies finish their regular season at West Virginia Tech April 24-25.
#3 Oklahoma City split a double-header with Division II East Central, winning 5-4, and losing 2-1. The Stars didn't get on the board in the first game until the sixth inning, and took a 4-3 lead on a two-RBI double by RF Joe Lytle. The Tigers answered with a run in the top of the seventh and final inning to tie it 4-4, and lost a chance to go ahead when a base runner was tagged out at the plate, ending the inning. SS Adam Clark hit an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to win it. Holden Lyons got the final two outs in the top of the seventh (a fly ball and the out at the plate) for the win; he threw three pitches. The second game was decided by a bases-loaded walk, and the Stars left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. Story
The Stars then swept Southwestern Assemblies of God, 5-0, 17-1, and 12-4. Matt Young and Lyons combined for the shutout in the first game. Young went seven innings, allowed four hits, struck out ten. Lyons pitched two hitless innings. 1B J.J. Bissell's solo home run was the winning run, and Lytle hit a two-RBI triple. Story Bissell hit two home runs in the second game, one for three runs, the other for two. He drew a walk for another RBI, and the Stars got yet another run when he hit into a double play. Carlos Chavez got a seven-inning one-hitter, struck out 12. He had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning, and the only run he gave up was on a balk. The Lions led the third game 4-3 after five innings, but the Stars put it away with six runs in the sixth, led by a two-RBI double by Bissell. C Dylan Delso added a two-run home run in the seventh. Grant Hamilton got the win in relief. Story
The Stars continue to trail #4 Oklahoma Baptist by one game in the Sooner Athletic Conference. The Stars finish their conference schedule hosting Mid-America Christian April 23 and 25, and visiting Mid-America Christian April 24. They visit East Central on April 28.
#4 Oklahoma Baptist swept three games against Mid-America Christian, 13-3, 4-1, and 15-0. Another scheduled game was rained out. 3B Landon Coon and LF Colt Bickerstaff hit home runs in the first game. Kelvin Rivas got the win, pitched five innings, allowed three hits, struck out ten. Nathan Thompson and Kyle Fimbrez combined for a two-hitter in the second game, and Bickerstaff hit another home run. He also hit an RBI single for the winning run in the first inning. Jinny Parra, Brad Adams, and Les Northcutt combined for the two-hit mercy-rule-shortened shutout in the third game. Story
Oklahoma Baptist's remaining conference games are against Saint Gregory's April 23-25. They also host Division II Southern Nazarene April 22, and finish their regular season at home against Division II Oklahoma Christian April 27.
#5 Northwood lost two of three at Saint Thomas, 5-3, 2-4, and 4-9, but the win was enough for their first-ever Sun Conference pennant. Cody Gray got the win in the first game, went eight innings, allowed five hits, struck out 11. DH Keivan Berges hit a two-run home run, had a total of three RBI. Story The Seahawks were shut out for the first six innings of the second game by Bobcats starter Alex Hernandez. They tied the game 2-2 in the top of the seventh, but the Bobcats answered with a two-RBI single by RF Nico Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh. The winning run for the Bobcats in the third game came on a three-run home run by SS Cesar Ramirez in the bottom of the second inning. Kharlin Sued got the win. Story
The Seahawks' next game will be in The Sun Conference tournament at Fort Myers, FL May 1.
#8 and ISR #1 The Master's lost two of three to #11 Westmont, 0-6, 1-4, and 9-4 (11 innings, scheduled for 7). The Mustangs came very close to being swept. They tied the third game in the top of the seventh when 2B Sam Robison reached on an error, went to second on a single by SS Jonathan Popadics, stole third, then scored when 1B Collin Nyenhuis reached on a fielder's choice. With two out and two on in the bottom of the seventh, RF Blake Matthias hit a single, and courtesy runner Ryan Beveridge attempted to score what would have been the winning run from second base. He was out at the plate on a throw from RF John Brazil to C David Sheaffer. Brazil had just entered the game because the starting right fielder, Josh Brown, moved to the mound. Brown and Aaron Alexander managed to keep the Warriors off the board over the next four innings. The winning run was scored in the top of the 11th when Nyenhuis drew a bases-loaded walk. The Warriors made a pitching change, and the next batter, 3B Nick Covello, hit a grand slam home run. Story
Russell Harmening pitched the two-hit shutout for the Warriors in the first game, struck out nine. Matthias hit an RBI double for the winning run; he was 3-for-4 with two RBI for the game. Story Daniel Butler went the nine-inning distance for the Warriors in the second game; he allowed four hits, and had a shutout going into the ninth. DH Derek Rodigo scored the winning run when LF Steven Pollex reached on a fielder's choice. SS Rudy Leon when 3-for-3 with two RBI.
The Mustangs also got a 10-9 win over future NAIA member Providence Christian. The Mustangs led 10-5 going into the ninth, then had to hang on as the Sea Beggars scored four runs. The Mustangs had to bring in starter Jason Karkenny to get the final out. LF Josh Brown went 2-for-2 with a grand slam home run in the first inning. DH Richard Greene went 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Sea Beggars.
Harmening is 10-2, 1.135 ERA, with 82 strikeouts, and he is tied with five other pitchers, including Victor Arche of Faulkner, for third-most wins in the NAIA. The Mustangs visit Vanguard April 24-25. The Mustangs have a two game lead over Westmont in the Golden State Athletic Conference, and they need to win two of three against Vanguard to take the GSAC pennant.
The pennant for NAIA West will be decided in a series at Lewis-Clark State April 24-26 (video). The Warriors hold a one-game lead over visitor British Columbia, so the Thunderbirds have to win three of four to take the pennant. The Thunderbirds also have to be looking over their shoulder at Concordia-Portland, two games behind them. The team other than L-C State that finishes the highest hosts the NAIA West tournament.
The truly red-hot pennant race is in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. #16 Northwestern Ohio holds a ½ game lead over both #7 Davenport and ISR #35 Madonna. The Crusaders visit the Racers April 25-26 (video), and host the Panthers April 29-30.