Thursday, May 20 2021 23:17

NAIA Baseball National Championship Preview

Written by Administrator

Schedule for the first two days of the 64th NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 28-June 4, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):

8:30 AM: #8Keiser(36-16) vs. #9LSU-Shreveport (44-14)

Keiser (West Palm Beach, FL) is making their second trip to the Baseball National Championship. The first one was in 2017, and they went 1-2. Twitter: @KeiserBaseball
Nickname: Seahawks
Rankings: #17 in coaches' poll, #9 in Boyd Nation's ISR. Strength of Schedule: #10
Quality wins: 3-0 vs. South Carolina-Beaufort, 3-3 vs. Saint Thomas, 2-0 vs. Oklahoma City
Top position players: 3B Tim Bouchard (.403, 16 HR, 67 RBI), OF Matthew Catalfo (.389, 7 HR, 62 RBI), OF Ben McConnell (.356, 6 HR, 40 RBI), SS Mason Dineson (.330, 10 HR, 53 RBI), C Zach Mazur (.253, 14 HR, 53 RBI)
Top Pitchers: RHP Pablo Arevalo (9-3, 1.38 ERA, 114 K), RHP James Reynolds (7-3, 3.65 ERA, 57 K), RHP Deykel Reyes (8-1, 5.52 ERA, 72 K). Arevalo's 1.38 ERA is third-best in the NAIA. He has pitched 117 innings, which is the most in the NAIA.
Coach: Brook Fordyce, fourth season
Outlook: The Seahawks are not at the same level as the top four teams in this tournament.

Louisiana State-Shreveport is making their fourth trip to the Baseball National Championship. The most recent one was 2012, and they finished third. Twitter: @LSUS_Baseball
Nickname: Pilots
Rankings: #25 in coaches' poll, #11 in ISR. SoS: #24
Quality wins: Central Methodist, 2-2 vs. Oklahoma City, Mobile, 2-0 vs. Point Park
Top position players: 3B Payton Robertson (.417, 7 HR, 56 RBI), OF Kody Kolb (.408, 45 RBI), DH Taylor Fajardo (.345, 15 HR, 43 RBI)
Top Pitchers: RHP Trent Sholders (6-1, 3.04 ERA, 30 K), LHP Josh Fortenberry (8-2, 3.23 ERA, 63 K), RHP Sebastian Selway (6-3, 3.36 ERA, 86 K), RHP Kevin Miranda (6-3, 5.30 ERA, 70 K), RHP Luisdiego Quintana (4-3, 5.12 ERA, 70 K)
Coach: Brad Neffendorf, second season
Outlook: Either the Pilots or the Seahawks will get a win.

11:30 AM: #4 Oklahoma Wesleyan(48-9) vs. #5 Georgia Gwinnett (46-10)

Oklahoma Wesleyan (Bartlesville) is making their third trip to the Baseball National Championship. They finished third in 2014, went 0-2 in 2017. They are the regular season champions of the Kansas Collegiate Conference. Twitter: @OKWUeagles
Nickname: Eagles
Rankings: #7 in coaches' poll, #4 in ISR. SoS: #21
Quality wins: 1-1 vs. Our Lady of the Lake, Oklahoma City
Top position players: 1B Cody Muncy (.466, 25 HR, 88 RBI), OF Esteffersen Melean (Caracas, Venezuela; .388), DH Danny Perez (.380, 19 HR, 70 RBI), OF Isaac Wersland (.367, 28 HR, 72 RBI). Muncy's 88 RBI are the second-most in the NAIA, and his .466 average is fifth-highest in the NAIA. His 28 home runs are fourth in the NAIA; Wersland is third.
Top Pitchers: RHP Brendan Bell (6-0, 2.04 ERA, 31 K), RHP Billy Wall (3-1, 3.00 ERA, 59 K), RHP Kellen Brothers (8-0, 3.05 ERA, 68 K), RHP Crosby Bringhurst (9-0, 3.18 ERA, 78 K)
Coach: Kirk Kelley, fifth season
Outlook: The Eagles have some chance of making it into the top four.

Georgia Gwinnett (Lawrenceville, GA) is making their fourth trip to Lewiston. They went 2-2 in 2019. They won the Association of Independent Institutions tournament. Twitter: @GGC_Baseball
Nickname: Grizzlies
Rankings:#6 in coaches' poll, #7 in ISR. SoS: #27
Quality wins: 3-2 vs. Middle Georgia State, 2-1 vs. Hope International, Westmont
Top position players: OF Griffin Keller (Pilot Butte, SK, Canada; .472, 16 HR, 85 RBI), 3B Jake Defries (.449, 37 RBI), C Austin Bates (.422, 53 RBI), DH Livingston Morris (.387, 12 HR, 68 RBI), OF Nick Barnes (.346, 16 HR, 70 RBI). Keller's 85 RBI are the third-most in the NAIA (tied with Pedro Castellano of Southeastern), and his .472 average is the fourth-best in the NAIA. He led the NAIA in total hits with 101.
Top pitchers: RHP Hunter Caudelle (2-0, 0.50 ERA, 30 K, 5 saves), RHP Hunter Dollander (10-1, 3.00 ERA, 85 K), RHP Kevin Kyle (8-0, 4.21 ERA, 66 K), RHP Adam McKillican (Comox, BC, Canada; 6-3, 3.93 ERA, 61 K), LHP Tyler Clayton (4-2, 3.38 ERA, 51 K)
Coach: Jeremy Sheetinger, second season
Outlook: Got to hand it to the Grizzlies; they traveled all the way across the country for the Opening Round, and beat two good teams, including the host, to get here. They can at least challenge the top three teams.

3 PM: #7 Indiana U. Southeast (48-14) vs. #10 Concordia-Nebraska (42-10)

Indiana U. Southeast (New Albany) is making their first trip to the Baseball National Championship. They are the champions of the River States Conference (regular season and tournament). Twitter: @IUSSportsTalk
Nickname: Grenadiers
Rankings: #15 in coaches' poll, #10 in ISR. SoS: #32
Quality wins: LSU-Shreveport. 2-3 vs. Tennessee Wesleyan, but the two wins were in the Opening Round, and that's how the Grenadiers got here.
Top position players: OF Drew Hensley (.398), 2B Clay Woeste (.373, 47 RBI), OF Marco Romero (Caracas, Venezuela; .367, 53 RBI)
Top Pitchers: LHP Trevor Reynolds (9-1, 2.81 ERA), LHP Hunter Kloke (9-1, 3.01 ERA, 65 K), RHP Cade Reynolds (5-2, 3.17 ERA), RHP Drew Hensley (8-3, 5.21 ERA, 58 K)
Coach: Ben Reel, 13th season
Outlook: Should finish in the middle of the pack.

Concordia-Nebraska (Seward) is making their first trip to the Baseball National Championship. They are the champions of the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
Nickname: Bulldogs
Rankings: #19 in coaches' poll, #12 in ISR. SoS: #68
Quality wins: Missouri Baptist, 2-1 vs. Doane, 2-1 vs. Bellevue
Top position players: 2B Jayden Adams (.400), OF Joey Grabanski (.374, 17 HR, 60 RBI), DH Beau Dorman (.371, 10 HR, 41 RBI), 1B Jesse Garcia (.358, 14 HR, 49 RBI), OF Keaton Candor (.370, 12 HR, 48 RBI)
Top Pitchers: RHP Jake Fosgett (9-0, 1.36 ERA, 96 K), RHP Trenton Wood (6-2, 4.10 ERA, 79 K), RHP Nick Little (8-1, 4.91 ERA, 68 K). Fosgett has the second-lowest ERA in the NAIA.
Coach: Ryan Dupic, seventh season
Outlook: Happy to be here.

7 PM: #3 Lewis-Clark State (41-14) vs. #6 Faulkner (38-10)

Lewis-Clark State (Lewiston, ID) is the host team. They have won 19 national championships; the last one was in 2017. They are the champions of the Cascade Collegiate Conference. Twitter: @LCWarriors
Nickname: Warriors
Rankings: #5 in coaches' poll, #16 in ISR. SoS: #152
Quality wins: Westmont, 1-1 vs. Hope International, Benedictine-Mesa
Top position players: Brock Ephan (.422, 18 HR, 75 RBI), Aidan Nagle (.387, 13 HR, 59 RBI), Riley Way (.384, 45 RBI)
Top Pitchers: Jesse Parker (2-1, 1.23 ERA, 32 K), Eric Chavarria (8-1, 2.43 ERA, 65 K), Trent Sellers (6-1, 3.66 ERA, 70 K)
Coach: Jake Taylor, third season
Outlook: The Warriors have by far the lowest Strength of Schedule in the tournament. They did go 7-1 on a road trip in the Southwest in February, but they will do well to get a win here.
This will be the last season that the Warriors get an automatic bid to this tournament. Starting next year, they will host one of the ten opening round brackets.

Faulkner (Montgomery, AL) is making their ninth trip to Lewiston (eighth consecutive). They went two-and-out in 2019. Twitter: @FaulknerBSBL
Nickname: Eagles
Rankings: #11 in coaches' poll, #5 in ISR. SoS: #9
Quality wins: 3-0 vs. Indiana Wesleyan, 2-2 vs. William Carey, 3-0 vs. Mobile, 3-2 vs. Middle Georgia State, Saint Thomas, 2-1 vs. Vanguard
Top position players: 1B Justice Lucas (.407, 9 HR, 48 RBI), OF Isaac Phillips (.364, 51 RBI), 1B Alex Arauz (.361, 6 HR, 52 RBI), 2B John Michael Mathews (.357, 7 HR, 45 RBI), SS Shawn Ross (.311, 13 HR, 39 RBI
Top pitchers: LHP Antonio Frias (Panama City, Panama; 11-0, 2.22 ERA, 119 strikeouts), RHP July Sosa (7-2, 3.71 ERA, 90 K), RHP J.C. Toro (Gurabo, Puerto Rico; 7-2, 4.98 ERA, 74 K). Frias's 11 wins are sixth-best in the NAIA (tied with Ryan Munoz of Southeastern).
Coach: Patrick McCarthy, twelfth season
Outlook: The Eagles have been here regularly. They and Central Methodist are most likely to challenge Southeastern for the championship.

3 PM Saturday: #1 Southeastern (50-7) vs. Keiser-LSU-Shreveport Winner

Southeastern (Lakeland, FL) is making their third straight appearance at the Baseball National Championship. They won the championship in 2018. They were 2-2 in the 2019 tournament. They won the regular season and tournament championships of The Sun Conference. Twitter: @SEUFireBaseball
Nickname: Fire
Rankings: #2 in coaches' poll, #3 in ISR. SoS: #4
Quality wins: 4-0 vs. Indiana Wesleyan, Point Park, Bellevue, 4-0 vs. Keiser, 2-2 vs. Saint Thomas, 2-0 vs. Middle Georgia State
Top position players: 1B Nick Bottari (.422, 21 HR, 52 RBI), DH Colton Onstott (.419, 10 HR, 59 RBI), SS Sam Faith (.411, 12 HR, 52 RBI), 2B Pedro Castellano (.354, 15 HR, 85 RBI), OF Anthony Carrera (.343, 12 HR, 45 RBI). Castellano's 85 RBI are the third-most in the NAIA (tied with Griffin Keller of Georgia Gwinnett).
Top pitchers: RHP Drew Gillespie (4-1, 1.79 ERA), LHP Ryan Munoz (Isabela, Puerto Rico; 11-0, 1.87 ERA, 72 K), RHP Christian Camacho (10-1, 2.79 ERA,102 K), RHP Brenden Heiss (2-0, 1.89 ERA). Munoz's 1.85 ERA is the fifth-best in the NAIA, and his 11 wins are the sixth-best in the NAIA (tied with Antonio Frias of Faulkner).
Coach: Adrian Dinkel, fifth season
Outlook: The Fire are the team to beat. They have a strong record in a strong conference.

6:30 PM Saturday: #2 Central Methodist (46-6) vs. Indiana U. Southeast-Concordia-Nebraska winner

Central Methodist (Fayette, MO) is making their first trip to the Baseball National Championship. They are the champions of the Heart of America Conference. Twitter: @cmueagles
Nickname: Eagles
Rankings: #4 in coaches' poll, #2 in ISR. SoS: #3. Both the ISR and Strength of Schedule are the best among the teams in this tournament.
Quality wins: 4-0 vs. Our Lady of the Lake, Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Indiana U. Southeast, Bellevue, Missouri Baptist, 4-0 vs. William Penn, 4-1 vs. Benedictine-Kansas, 2-0 vs. William Carey
Top position players: SS Sergio Macias (.412, 18 HR, 67 RBI), 1B Logan Haring (.392, 19 HR, 50 RBI), DH Mason Schwellenbach (.386, 11 HR,51 RBI), OF Kenny Otero (.333, 7 HR, 38 RBI).
Top Pitchers: RHP Mason Schwellenbach (13-1, 2.34 ERA, 104 K), RHP Nick Merkel (12-0, 1.96 ERA, 113 K), RHP Beau Atkins (1-1, 1.93 ERA, 27 K, 4 saves), LHP Kenny Otero (9-2, 4.19 ERA, 71 K). Schwellenbach leads the NAIA in wins, and Merkel is tied with three other players for second-most wins.
Coach: Nate Breland, eighth season
Outlook: The Eagles are for real. They played the toughest schedule, and have the most quality wins. They and Faulkner are the most likely to challenge Southeastern for the championship.

There was a tight race for this year's United Nations Award. Faulkner and Southeastern both have seven non-US players on their roster. Faulkner has two players from Puerto Rico, and one each from Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Canada, and Venezuela. Southeastern has five from Puerto Rico, one from Venezuela, and one from Canada. However, only five of Southeastern's non-US players saw action this season. Six of Faulkner's non-US players saw action. That opens the door for Oklahoma Wesleyan; they have six non-US players, and all of them saw action; Two from Canada, two from Venezuela, one from the Dominican Republic, and one from Curacao. So, I'm calling it a tie between Faulkner and Oklahoma Wesleyan.

Predicted order of finish:

Southeastern
Central Methodist
Faulkner
Georgia Gwinnett
Oklahoma Wesleyan
Indiana U. Southeast
Keiser
Lewis-Clark State
LSU-Shreveport
Concordia-Nebraska

If the top four seeds all win their first games, Monday's matchups will be Southeastern vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan and Central Methodist vs. Lewis-Clark State. (Big Memorial Day gate, if L-C State gets this far.) 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 $14.95 per day, or $34.95 for all 19 games. Live stats are available for all games by clicking here. The games on or after June 2 will also be streamed live by ESPN 3.

Last modified on Saturday, May 22 2021 09:34
Administrator

Administrator

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.

Website: broughton.ca/

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