Sunday, 17 May 2015 21:38

National Championship preview

Written by Administrator

Schedule for the first two days of the 59th NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 22-23, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):

9 AM: #7 seed Lindsey Wilson (41-17) vs. #10 Vanguard (38-20)

Lindsey Wilson (Columbia, KY) is making their first appearance at the Baseball National Championship.
Nickname: Blue Raiders
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #31 in ISR. Strength of schedule: #105
Quality wins: 2-1 vs. Auburn-Montgomery, 1-1 vs. Faulkner, 2-1 vs. Campbellsville, 2-1 vs. Tennessee Wesleyan
Top position players: RF Alex Bautista (.383, 19 HR, 72 RBI), 3B Ryan Harper (.400). Bautista's 72 RBI is fourth-best in the NAIA.
Top pitchers: LHP Scott Sebald (10-3, 1.07 ERA), LHP Ryan Hartman (10-2, 2.04 ERA, 103 K)
Coach: Jonathan Burton, fourth season
Outlook: Happy to be here.

Vanguard (Costa Mesa, CA) is making their second appearance at the Baseball National Championship; the first one was in 1985.
Nickname: Lions
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #16 in ISR. SoS: #12
Quality wins: 4-2 vs. Westmont, British Columbia, Northwestern Ohio
Top position players: OF Brandon Sandoval (.291, 36 stolen bases), SS Jose Rojas (.333, 12 HR, 57 RBI), OF Paul Keating (.330)
Top pitchers: RHP Sean Isaac (9-5, 2.91 ERA, 92 K), RHP Scott Torrey (6-1, 3.07 ERA)
Coach: Rob Pegg, third season
Outlook: The Lions play in the very competitive Golden State Athletic Conference, and got to the National Championship by winning the toughest Opening Round bracket. They should do better than their #10 seeding, but won't be championship contenders.

Noon: #8 Concordia-Irvine (47-16) vs. #9 Saint Thomas (44-16)

Concordia-Irvine (CA) is making their third appearance at the Baseball National Championship. (It will be their final appearance; they are moving to Division II next year.) They won the championship in 2011.
Nickname: Eagles
Rankings: #19 in coaches' poll, #2 in ISR. SoS: #3 (highest in tournament)
Quality wins: 1-1 vs. Oklahoma City, 1-1 vs. Lewis-Clark State, 6-1 vs. Vanguard
Top position players: SS Ryan Goodman (.314), OF Robert Shiroky (.292), OF Mitchell Esser (.312, 52 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Tyler Mark (5-1, 1.30 ERA, 64 K), RHP Dillon Moran (9-4, 3.63 ERA, 64 K), RHP Isaiah Terrazas (6-2, 2.61 ERA). Mark has 23 saves, the most in the NAIA.
Coach: Mike Grahovac, seventh season
Outlook: The Eagles won the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament, and split with #1 Oklahoma City in the Opening Round to make it here. They should be a contender for the championship.

Saint Thomas (Miami Gardens, FL) is making their fifth appearance at the Baseball National Championship; the last one was in 2007.
Nickname: Bobcats
Rankings: #20 in coaches' poll, #22 in ISR. SoS: #25
Quality wins: 2-1 vs. Northwood, 2-1 vs. Georgia Gwinnett, Westmont
Top position players: 1B Eric Santamaria (.374, 53 RBI), 3B Paul Chacin (Maracuabo, Venezuela; .335, 69 RBI), LF Jerry Downs (.348, 7 HR, 51 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Marcos Barrios (9-2, 3.63 ERA, 78 K), RHP Alex Hernandez (3-1, 2.93 ERA, 43 K). RHP Chris Rodriguez (2-0, 3.00 ERA, 26 K, 12 saves)
Coach: Jorge Perez, sixth season
Outlook: The Bobcats are happy to be here.

3 PM: #3 Tabor (53-10) vs. #6 Embry-Riddle (39-17)

Tabor (Hillsboro, KS) made their first appearance at the Baseball National Championship last year, and finished 2-2.
Nickname: Bluejays
Rankings: #5 in coaches' poll, #9 in ISR. SoS: #44
Quality wins: 2-0 vs. Bellevue
Top position players: RF Manny DeLeon (.422, 10 HR), CF Jerrik Sigg (.349, 11 HR, 54 RBI), 3B Alex Couch (.411)
Top pitchers: LHP Russell Longworth (11-3, 2.51 ERA, 87 K), RHP Dustin Hurlbutt (10-2, 2.70 ERA, 100 K), RHP Gregory Turner (5-2, 1.24 ERA)
Coach: Mark Standiford, seventh season
Outlook: The Bluejays won't equal last year's performance; they will be hard-pressed to get a win this time.

Embry-Riddle (Daytona Beach, FL) is making their 13th appearance in Lewiston, and their eleventh in the past thirteen years. They finished third in 2004 and 2010, second in 2005, and fourth in 2013.
Nickname: Eagles
Rankings: #16 in coaches' poll, #14 in ISR. SoS: #13
Quality wins: 2-1 vs. Auburn-Montgomery, 1-1 vs. Bellevue, Tennessee Wesleyan, 4-1 vs. Saint Thomas
Top position players: SS Enderson Velasquez (.377), OF Liam Goodall (Nanaimo, BC; .375, 59 RBI), OF Tobias Moreno (.373)
Top pitchers: LHP Stetson Nelson (9-4, 1.52 ERA, 97 K), RHP Zac Grotz (8-1, 0.65 ERA, 79 K, 9 saves), RHP Tyler Cyr (7-4, 3.27 ERA, 88 K). Grotz' ERA is the second-lowest in the NAIA, and lowest of the pitchers in this tournament.
Coach: Randy Stegall, eighth season
Outlook: The Eagles have come close to a championship several times, but this will be their last chance to win one before they move to Division II. They've gotten this far on guts, and will need more of the same to win the championship.




7 PM: #4 Lewis-Clark State (41-11) vs. #5 Davenport (51-10)

Lewis-Clark State (Lewiston, ID) is the host team. They have won 16 national championships, most recently in 2008. They were runners-up last year and in 2013.
Nickname: Warriors
Rankings: #12 in coaches' poll, #1 in ISR. SoS: #10
Quality wins: 5-0 vs. British Columbia, 1-1 vs. Concordia-Irvine
Top position players: SS Cabe Reiten (.421, 7 HR, 41 RBI), RF Seth Brown (.378, 22 HR, 73 RBI), RHP-DH Ty Jackson (.341, 7 HR, 49 RBI), 2B Max Whitt (.304, 15 HR, 66 RBI), 1B-LHP Camerons Pongs (.381). Brown's 22 home runs are the most in the NAIA, and he is second in the NAIA in RBI. Whitt is tenth in the NAIA in home runs.
Top Pitchers: RHP Ty Jackson (7-1, 1.83 RBI, 59 K), RHP Beau Kerns (10-1, 2.77 ERA, 66 K), RHP Dillon Keene (5-0, 1.98 ERA), LHP Cameron Pongs (2-1, 4.24 ERA, 4 saves). Kerns' ten wins are 13th-best in the NAIA.
Coach: Jeremiah Robbins, third season
Outlook: The Warriors were runners-up the past two seasons, and this team is better than those two teams. They led the NAIA with 89 home runs. This could be the year that the Warriors get another championship.

Davenport (Grand Rapids, MI) is making their first appearance in Lewiston.
Nickname: Panthers
Rankings: #6 in coaches' poll, #9 in ISR. SoS: #40
Quality wins: Embry-Riddle, 4-2 vs. Indiana Tech, 2-1 vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan
Top position players: 1B-LHP Brendan Bender (.411, 10 HR, 61 RBI), OF Zac Wilson (.387), 3B Matt Priebe (.378, 60 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Jonathan Cheshire (1-2, 1.38 ERA, 49 K, 14 saves), RHP Corey Murphy (9-4, 1.89 ERA, 70 K), LHP Brendan Bender (8-1, 1.44 ERA). The Panthers have five more pitchers with five or more wins.
Coach: Kevin Tidey, fourth season
Outlook: The Panthers are a solid team, and they won a hotly-contested Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament, and finished one game behind in the W-HAC regular-season race. They were second in the NAIA in both team batting () and ERA (2.59). How Davenport does at this championship tournament will tell us whether the W-HAC should be considered one of the NAIA's top baseball conferences. This opening game will be interesting; while the Panthers were in a dogfight for the W-HAC pennant, the Warriors were playing Central Washington. While the Panthers were winning the W-HAC tournament and the Opening Round bracket (both of which required an “if necessary” game, the Warrors were idle.

3 PM Saturday: #2 Faulkner (48-13) vs. Lindsey Wilson-Vanguard winner

Faulkner (Montgomery, AL) is making their fourth trip to Lewiston; they won the championship in their last appearance in 2013. The Eagles win this year's United Nations award; they have two Dominican Republicans, two Puerto Ricans, and one from Aruba.
Nickname: Eagles
Rankings: #10 in coaches' poll, #5 in ISR. SoS: #14
Quality wins: 1-1 vs. Lindsey Wilson, 3-0 vs. Campbellsville, Georgia Gwinnett, 2-2 vs. Auburn-Montgomery,
Top position players: CF Chris Madera (Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico; .386, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 50 stolen bases), C Robert Liera (.370, 9 HR, 52 RBI), RF Nick Cain (.337, 8 HR, 43 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Jack Charleston (9-1, 1.15 ERA, 77 K), RHP Phillip Anderson (8-2, 2.80 ERA, 79 K), LHP Victor Arche (11-2, 2.35 ERA, 67 K), RHP Alejandro Castro (3-2, 1.54 ERA, 9 saves), LHP Christian Torres (6-1, 2.09 ERA, 69 K)
Coach: Patrick McCarthy, sixth season
Outlook: The Eagles' have been solid the entire season, and are among the favorites to win the championship. They were third in the NAIA in team ERA (2.60).

6:30 PM Saturday: 1 Oklahoma Baptist (52-6) vs. Concordia-Saint Thomas winner

Oklahoma Baptist (Shawnee, OK) is making their fifth trip to Lewiston. They were 2-2 last year, good for fourth place. Their wins were over Tabor and Faulkner. They are going to Division II next season.
Nickname: Bison
Rankings: #2 in coaches' poll (highest in tournament), #4 in ISR. SoS: #69
Quality wins: Tabor, LSU-Shreveport
Top position players: 2B Yariel Gonzalez (San Juan, Puerto Rico; .433, 9 HR, 64 RBI), 3B Landon Coon (.431, 13 HR, 70 RBI), RF Joey Szczepanski (.429, 59 RBI). Gonzalez and Coon have the two highest batting averages in the tournament.
Top Pitchers: RHP Kelvin Rivas (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; 12-0, 1.88 ERA, 141 K), RHP Jinny Parra (10-1, 2.37 ERA, 64 K), RHP Kyle Fimbrez (7-1, 3.16 ERA, 42 K), LHP Taylor Hearn (9-0, 3.38 ERA, 66 K). Rivas leads the NAIA in strikeouts, and is second in wins.
Coach: Bobby Cox, 31st season. His record is 1216-571.
Outlook: The Bison started the season with 30 straight wins, and were solid all year, except against conference rival Oklahoma City. The have the highest team batting average in the NAIA (.368). Their #1 seeding is appropriate; they are among the favorites to win the championship.

Predicted order of finish

Lewis-Clark State
Oklahoma Baptist
Lindsey Wilson
Saint Thomas

If the top four seeds all win their first games, Monday's matchups will be Faulkner vs. Tabor and Oklahoma Baptist vs. Lewis-Clark State. Tournament bracket Tournament stats

In a long-standing Lewiston tradition, all games are audio webcast by KOZE Radio, free of charge. This year, video webcasts are by Stretch Internet, which should be an improvement over past years. It's $20 for the first 15 games of the tournament. Live stats are available for all games by clicking here. The final three or four games will be streamed live by ESPN 3.

Last modified on Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:27


Bob Broughton started going to British Columbia home games in 2001, and was favorably impressed with the caliber of play. This led to annual trips to the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID, a nine-hour drive from Vancouver. He retired in Guanajuato, Mexico in 2012.


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