Schedule for the first two days of the 61st NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 26-27, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):
8:30 AM: #7 seed Science and Arts of Oklahoma (47-15) vs. #10 The Master's (39-21)
Science and Arts of Oklahoma (Chikasha, OK) is making their second appearance at the Baseball National Championship. They went two-and-out last year, and were taken out by The Master's. The Drovers win the United Nations award for the second straight year; they have an Australian, five Puerto Ricans, and a Dominican Republican.
Rankings: #19 in coaches' poll, #27 in ISR. Strength of Schedule: #37
Quality wins: 3-1 vs. Bellevue, Davenport, 3-1 vs. Friends, Oklahoma Baptist
Top position players: UTL Christian Perez (.434, 10 HR, 59 RBI, Bayamon, Puerto Rico), RF Randy Ventura (.429, 10 HR, 52 RBI, Carolina, Puerto Rico), C Dillon White (.410, 15 HR, 80 RBI). White's 80 RBI are fifth-best in the NAIA.
Top pitchers: LHP Francis Ventura (10-1, 1.64 ERA, 88 K), LHP Jose Hidalgo (9-1, 2.04 ERA, 85 K), RHP Ruddy Estrella (1-1, 2.49 ERA, 29 K), LHP Carson Korff (8-0, 2.56 ERA, 52 K). Ventura's ERA is third-lowest in the NAIA, and lowest of the pitchers in this tournament. Hidalgo's ERA is 15th-lowest.
Coach: Mike Ross, 13th season
Outlook: The Drovers had to beat a really good Bellevue team twice and a good Davenport team to get here. This is a tough first round matchup for both teams.
The Master's (Santa Clarita, CA) is making their fourth appearance at the Baseball National Championship. They went 1-2 in last year's tournament. The win was 6-1 over Science and Arts of Oklahoma; RHP Brad Lohse pitched a complete game. They won the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament by winning five straight after losing the opening game.
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #7 in ISR. SoS: #6
Quality wins: 4-1 vs. Menlo, 2-0 vs. Georgia Gwinnett. Defeated Hope International twice in GSAC tournament.
Top position players: C Jonah Jarrard (.413, 12 HR, 46 RBI), 3B Michael Sexton (.401, 16 HR, 59 RBI), CF Max Maitland (.351), SS Aaron Shackelford (.316, 14 HR, 50 RBI), 1B David Sheaffer (262, 8 HR, 59 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Danny Lutz (2-1, 2.53 ERA, 29 K), RHP Aaron Alexander (10-4, 2.84 ERA, 95 K), RHP Robert Winslow (8-5, 2.92 ERA, 97 K), RHP Jason Karkenny (5-2, 4.28 ERA, 49 K)
Coach: Monte Brooks, 21st season
Outlook: After a slow start, the Mustangs went 24-4 since March 25, and enter this tournament with a nine-game winning streak. Preview from The Master's College.
11:30 AM: #3 Oklahoma Wesleyan (53-10) vs. #6 Missouri Baptist (46-15)
Oklahoma Wesleyan (Bartlesville, OK) is making their second trip to the Baseball National Championship. The first one was in 2014. They went 3-2, losing in the semifinal to Lewis-Clark State. They won both the regular season and tournament championships of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Rankings: #3 in coaches' poll, #4 in ISR. SoS: #27
Quality wins: 3-0 vs. Bellevue, 3-1 vs. Friends, Midland, 2-1 vs. Indiana Tech
Top position players: IF Trevor Achenbach (.473, 21 HR, 85 RBI), OF Will Price (.466, 27 HR, 100 RBI), OF Chris Acosta-Tapia (.452, 24 HR, 85 RBI), OF Alejandro Hernandez (.357, 19 HR, 76 RBI). Achenbach's .473 average is fourth-best in the NAIA. Price's 27 home runs and 100 RBI are the most in the NAIA, and his .466 batting average is #5. Acostia-Tapia's 24 home runs are third-best in the NAIA. Achenbach and Acostia-Tapia are tied for second-most RBI.
Top pitchers: RHP Landon Williams (6-0, 1.80 RBI, 36 K), LHP Carlos Aldana (7-5, 3.30 ERA, 79 K). LHP Zach Johnson (11-0, 3.77 ERA, 86 K), RHP Blake Randazzo (11-3, 4.54 ERA, 63 K). Johnson and Randazzo are tied with seven other pitchers (including Israel Fuentes of Faulkner) for seventh-most wins in the NAIA.
Coach: Matt Parker, fifth season
Outlook: The Eagles' offensive numbers are impressive by any standard, but it's worth considering that the distance to the center field fence in their ballpark is only 355 feet. During the Opening Round bracket that they just hosted, an astonishing 62 home runs were hit (19 of them by Midland) in nine games.
Missouri Baptist (Saint Louis, MO) is making their second trip to the Baseball National Championship. The first one was in 2013. They went 2-2, but the most interesting thing about it was how they got there; in the "if necessary" game of their Opening Round bracket, they defeated Tennessee Wesleyan 4-3 in 19 innings.
Rankings: #9 in coaches' poll, #20 in ISR. SoS: #49 (lowest in tournament)
Quality wins: William Carey, 2-0 vs. Tabor
Top position players: SS Culver Plant (.362, 3 HR, 48 RBI), IF Aaron Collazo (.349, 6 HR, 37 RBI), OF Drew Kitson (.311, 11 HR, 61 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Nich Vichio (0-1, 2.01 ERA, 48 K, 13 saves), LHP Patrick Boyle (7-2, 3.79 ERA, 91 K), RHP Michael Syrett (8-1, 3.95 ERA, 63 K), LHP Anthony Cosme (3-0, 1.44 ERA, 22 K, Manati, Puerto Rico)
Coach: Eddie Uschold, 19th season
Outlook: The Spartans are happy to be here.
3 PM: #8 Hope International (35-16) vs. #9 William Carey (42-18)
Hope International (Fullerton, CA) isn't just making their first appearance at at the Baseball National Championship; they also won the regular season championship of the Golden State Athletic Conference in only the second year of the program.
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #3 in ISR. SoS: #2 (highest in tournament)
Quality wins: UC-San Diego, 3-2 vs. The Master's, 3-1 vs. Menlo, 2-0 vs. Middle Georgia State, Northwestern Ohio
Top position players: OF Cameron Baranek (.356, 13 HR, 37 RBI), OF/1B Brett Thompson (.291, 8 HR, 32 RBI), C Sean David Clark (.278, 11 HR, 41 RBI), OF/IF Brandon Gonzalez (.275, 10 HR, 33 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Justin Moulds (7-0, 2.08 ERA, 17 K), RHP Dominic Potlongo (7-4, 4.19 ERA, 52 K), RHP George Castillo (8-3, 4.27 ERA, 76 K)
Coach: Erich Pfohl, second season
Outlook: These guys will do some damage.
William Carey (Hattiesburg, MS) is making their third trip to the Baseball National Championship. They won the championship in 1969. The other appearance was in 1978, and they went two-and-out.
Rankings: #20 in coaches' poll, #21 in ISR. SoS: #45
Quality wins: 3-0 vs. Jarvis Christian, 2-1 vs. Middle Georgia State, 2-1 vs. Southeastern, Texas Wesleyan
Top position players: IF James Land (.391, 19 HR, 67 RBI), C Tyler Graves (.356, 5 HR, 75 RBI), OF Tyler Odom (.329, 8 HR, 47 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Conner McWilliams (7-1, 3.11 ERA, 38 K), RHP Cole Edgens (9-1, 3.61 ERA, 75 K), RHP Devin Smith (7-1, 5.47 ERA, 50 K)
Coach: Bobby Halford, 32nd season
Outlook: The Crusaders are happy to be here.
7 PM: #4 Keiser (42-19) vs. #5 Lewis-Clark State (35-13)
Keiser (West Palm Beach, FL) is making their first trip to the Baseball National Championship.
Rankings: #5 in coaches' poll, #25 in ISR. SoS: #42
Quality wins: 3-1 vs. Northwestern Ohio, 2-1 vs. Davenport, 3-2 vs. Southeastern, 2-1 vs. Indiana-Southeast
Top position players: C/1B Brad Myott (.342, 4 HR, 46 RBI), OF Keivan Berges (.328, 12 HR, 42 RBI), SS/3B Jack Curtis (.298, 5 HR, 43 RBI), OF Tivon Faneyte (.293, 13 HR, 42 RBI, Willemstad, Curacao)
Top pitchers: RHP Daniel Garmendia (10-2, 2.21 ERA, 88 K), RHP Keivan Berges (5-1, 2.73 ERA, 64 K), RHP Miguel Castellanos (6-4, 2.91 ERA, 92 K, Cabimas, Venezuela), RHP Kyle Keatts (7-4, 3.15 ERA, 88 K).
Coach: Jeremy Kennedy, 3rd season. He was previously the coach at Northwood (TX), moved to Keiser (then known as Northwood (FL)) when Northwood (TX) shut down their athletic program, brought several players with him, including Hitt.
Outlook: A big first round matchup. Preview from CBS 12.
Lewis-Clark State (Lewiston, ID) is the host team and defending champion. They have won 18 national championships. They won the regular season championship of NAIA West.
Rankings: #16 in coaches' poll, #2 in ISR. SoS: #7
Quality wins: Antelope Valley, The Master's, 9-1 vs. College of Idaho, 2-0 vs. Georgia Gwinnett
Top position players: IF J.J. Robinson (.341, 19 HR, 62 RBI), IF Micah Brown (.305, 4 HR, 30 RBI), IF Seaver Whalen (.333, 10 HR, 48 RBI), OF Raymond Pedrina (.315, 5 HR, 38 RBI), IF Gunnar Buhner (.288, 6 HR, 35 RBI). Buhner is the son of MLB All-Star and Gold Glove Jay Buhner.
Top Pitchers: RHP Henry McAree (2-0, 1.96 ERA, 52 K), RHP Anthony Balderas (3-2, 2.21 ERA, 42 K), LHP Matt Fish (6-1, 2.34 ERA, 58 K), RHP Kevin Hamann (8-1, 3.68 ERA, 55 K), RHP Connor Brogdon (6-1, 2.34 ERA, 55 K)
Coach: Jeremiah Robbins, fifth season
Outlook: While it's unlikely that the Warriors will win their third straight championship, it would be a mistake to count them out; they played a strong schedule.
3 PM Saturday: #2 Faulkner (50-10) vs. Science and Arts of Oklahoma or The Master's
Faulkner (Montgomery, AL) is making their sixth trip to Lewiston; they won the championship in 2013. They were the runner-up last year; they lost to Lewis-Clark State 12-11 in the final. They won the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament.
Rankings: #4 in coaches' poll, #1 in ISR. SoS: #22
Quality wins: Saint Thomas, 3-0 vs. Georgia Gwinnett, 3-2 vs. William Carey, 2-1 vs. Talladega
Top position players: LF Reid Long (,361, 5 HR, 43 RBI), SS Oliver Basabe (,360, 3 HR, 37 RBI), DH T.J. Condon (.329, 21 HR, 68 RBI), CF John Price (.348, 8 HR, 47 RBI). Condon is tied with three other players (including Trevor Achenbach of Oklahoma Wesleyan) for fitfh-most home runs in the NAIA.
Top pitchers: RHP Jonathan Wilkins (0-1, 1.59 ERA, 27 K), RHP Israel Fuentes (11-0, 2.63 ERA, 84 K), LHP Ivan Pelaez (9-3, 2.63 ERA, 96 K), RHP Tyler Tungate (10-0, 3.77 ERA, 65 K)
Coach: Patrick McCarthy, eighth season
Outlook: The Eagles came very close to winning last year. They were unbeatable for the first two months of this season, faltered for a couple of weeks, then swept through the conference tournament and the Opening Round. They are the favorite to win the championship.
6:30 PM Saturday: #1 Oklahoma City (48-18) vs. Hope International or William Carey
Oklahoma City is making their 15th trip to the Baseball National Championship. They won the championship in 2005, and they won 67 games that season. Their last appearance was in 2012; they went 1-2 with a win over Lewis-Clark State.
Rankings: #1 in coaches' poll, #6 in ISR. SoS: #41
Quality wins: 2-0 vs. Tabor, 3-0 vs. Science and Arts of Oklahoma, 3-1 vs. Texas Wesleyan
Top position players: C/OF Lane Milligan (.407, 5 HR, 23 RBI), OF Jared Baker (.405, 19 HR, 83 RBI), IF Shaun Corso (.391, 8 HR, 57 RBI), OF Cory Linn (.370, 17 HR, 63 RBI). Baker's 83 RBI is fourth-best in the NAIA. (The three players above him all play for Oklahoma Wesleyan.)
Top pitchers: RHP Craig Knoche (8-0, 2.63 RBI, 45 RBI), RHP Matt Young (9-2, 2.87 ERA, 113 K), RHP Mark Simon (10-1, 4.10 ERA, 95 ERA). Young's 113 strikeouts are seventh-best in the NAIA.
Coach: Denney Crabaugh, 25th season
Outlook: The Stars should have a tough opening game.
Predicted order of finish:
Science and Arts of Oklahoma
If the top four seeds all win their first games, Monday's matchups will be Oklahoma City vs. Keiser and Faulkner vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan. Tournament bracket Tournament stats Schedule and Results (includes links to press releases)
In a long-standing Lewiston tradition, all games are audio webcast by KOZE Radio, free of charge. Video webcasts for the first 15 games of the tournament are by Stretch Internet. It's $9.95 per day, or $29.95 for all 15 games. Live stats are available for all games by clicking here. The games on or after May 31 will be streamed live by ESPN 3.