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.
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.
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.
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.
In every conference listed here (except the the Southern States Athletic Conference, which had a winner-take-all final), the title was decided by an “if necessary” game. ISR's mentioned here are as of May 6.
Cal State San Marcos (ISR #13) won the Association of Independent Institutions championship for the third time in five years. They lost the first “final” to #1 Georgia Gwinnett 2-1. The Grizzlies out-hit the Cougars 11-5, and SS Ernesto Vasquez hit an RBI single for the winning run. CSUSM won the deciding game 11-5. The Cougars got five runs in the first inning, and added four more in the second. LF Clinton Perez hit an RBI single for the winning run. Emilio Esquibel got his second win of the tournament, and ran his record to 12-1, 2.43 ERA. Story Georgia Gwinnett will host an Opening Round bracket.
#2 Oklahoma City won the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament, defeating #3 Oklahoma Baptist twice, 9-6 and 7-5. The Stars trailed in the late innings of both games. They scored four runs in the eighth inning of the first one. In the second one, C Connor Lynch hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth. Story Both Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Baptist are hosting Opening Round brackets.
#1 Faulkner won a midweek game against Point, 5-4, and won two of three against Loyola-New Orleans, 4-5 (10 innings), 4-0, and 4-0. 2B Luis Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh for the win over Point. 3B Peyton Senner hit an RBI single in the tenth for the winning run for the Wolf Pack in the loss to Loyola. Wolf Pack relievers Stewart Campbell and Connor Thurman held the Eagles to one hit over the final three innings. Jeremy Holcombe pitched a complete seven-inning shutout in the second game, allowed three hits; Sanchez batted in the winning run in the first inning. Julian Esquibel one-upped Holcombe in the third game; he also held the Wolf Pack to three hits, but he also recorded 10 strikeouts, didn't walk a batter. Sanchez went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
The defending champions are 14-3. They visit #8 Tennessee Wesleyan March 5, and Spring Hill March 7-8.
#2 Lewis-Clark State played in the Porter Park Classic in Portland, OR, and won two of three. They defeated Division II Montana State-Billings 4-2, lost to British Columbia 2-0, and defeated host Concordia-Portland 8-6. RF Cody Lavalli hit a two-run home run for the winning run against MSU-Billings; David Murillo got the win in relief, pitched three shutout innings, allowed two hits. Jeremy Newton and Alex Webb combined for the shutout for the Thunderbirds in the second game. Newton pitched seven innings, scattered 11 hits, was helped by two double plays. Webb got out of a jam in the eighth. The Warriors had runners at first and second with nobody out, and they were bunted to second and third. Webb got a fly out (not deep enough for the runner on third to score) and a strikeout. He recorded two more strikeouts in the ninth to finish the game. Both of the Birds' runs were in the early going. 1B Vinny Martin hit an RBI single in the first, and SS Tyson Popoff hit an RBI single in the second. In the third game, 2B Brian Corliss hit a two-RBI double in the seventh inning for the winning run. Corliss added a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning for the insurance run. Carsen Nylund got the win in relief.
The Thunderbirds also defeated MSU-BIllings and Concordia; Sean Callegari and Tyler Gillies got the wins. The tournament final between the Warriors and Thunderbirds was rained out. However, the Warriors and Thunderbirds get a rematch in Lewiston March 7-9. (This series was moved from Vancouver due to weather considerations.)
#1 Faulkner swept Thomas, 8-7, 3-0, and 10-9. The Eagles got away with five errors in the first game, and trailed going into the eighth inning. They won it with a pair of walks, an error, and a sacrifice fly by 3B Sergio Sanchez. Jeremy Holcombe and Labradford Griffis combined for the shutout in the second game. The Eagles came from behind again in the third game; RF Michael Cruz hit an RBI double in the ninth inning to tie it, than scored the winning run on a wild throw after a bunt by pinch-hitter Mike Correa. Patrick McGrady, who faced one batter in the eighth, got the win; Julian Esquibel, a usually reliable starter, was lit up for seven runs during the first six innings.
The defending champions are 11-2, and have won seven straight. They host Point Feb. 25, and Loyola-New Orleans Feb. 28-March 1. Faulkner announced earlier this month that they are doing live video of all of their home games for the rest of the season.
#2 Lewis-Clark State won three of four against Division II power Western Oregon, 7-2, 8-4, 1-6, and 6-5 (10 innings). RF Cody Lavalli hit a two-RBI double in the second inning for the winning run in the first game; Michael Noteware got the win. Lavalli got two more RBI and two more hits (one of them a home run) in the second game; Carsen Nylund got the win in relief. In the third game, the Warriors were held to one run off Wolves starter Eric Huson. LF Matt Taylor batted in four of the Wolves' runs; he went 3-for-5 with a home run and a double. In the fourth game, Raymond Pedrina let off the tenth inning with a single, then scored the winning run on a passed ball with two out. The Wolves used seven pitchers, the Warriors six. Cody Chartrand got the win. Lavalli got yet another RBI; he batted in the Warriors only run in the third game.
The Warriors have started the season 7-1. They go to the Porter Park classic, a tournament hosted by Concordia-Portland, for their first NAIA action of this season. They play Division II Montana State-Billings Feb. 28, British Columbia and Concordia March 1, and a “TBA” game March 2. Live video
#3 Embry-Riddle celebrated the Daytona 500 with a trip to Division II Stillman. The Eagles lost the first two games 2-1 and 1-0, but salvaged the third game 8-4. In the first game, Nick Boggs hit a bunt single in the bottom of the seventh and final inning to bring in the winning run. Joey Falletta went the distance for the Tigers, allowed four hits. Stetson Nelson of the Eagles pitched a no-hitter in the second game, but the Tigers manufactured the only run of the game when Cameron Stallings was hit by a pitch, stole second, went to third on a bunt, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Brown. Tyler Vails went the distance for the Tigers, allowed five hits, and struck out the side in the seventh inning. Story 3B J. Rhet Montana went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI in the third game; Corey Tufts got the win.
#1 Faulkner swept a series at Blue Mountain, 2-0, 8-1, and 10-1. Their record is now 8-2. LHP Thomas Dorminy pitched a one-hitter in the first game, struck out ten.RHP Jeremy Holcombe got the win in the second game, pitched six shutout innings, allowed three hits. RHP Julian Esquibel got the win in the third game. The Eagles visit Thomas Feb. 21-22.
#2 Lewis-Clark State started their season 4-0, sweeping Division II Montana State-Billings, 5-4, 20-6, 9-2, and 4-1. David Murillo, Beau Kerns, Dillon Keene, and Gunnar Swanson got the wins. Swanson went six innings, allowed three hits, struck out seven. LF/DH Kyle Knigge went 8-for-17 with four RBI for the series. The Warriors host Division II Western Oregon Feb. 21-23.
#3 Embry-Riddle swept South Carolina-Beaufort, 5-2, 4-0, and 3-1. RHP Daniel Poncedeleon went the nine-inning distance in the first game, struck out ten. LHP Stetson Nelson pitched all but the last out of a two-hit shutout in the second game, and the Eagles scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the eighth. RHP Corey Tufts and LHP Clayton Wagner combined for a one-hitter in the third game. The Sand Sharks got only nine hits in the series. The Eagles visit Division II Stillman Feb. 22-23.
#4 Missouri Baptist won three games at a tournament at Belhaven. The Spartans defeated Campbellsville 13-3, Saint Francis (IN) 19-3, and Belhaven 5-2. LF Orlando Olivera went 4-for-5 with two RBI against Campbellsville. 2B Jeff Smith went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI against Saint Francis. LHP Dave Mullins got the win against Belhaven; he went seven innings, allowed no earned runs and one hit. The Spartans host Indiana Wesleyan Feb. 21-22.
#1 Faulkner went 2-2 on the weekend, making their record 5-2. They split two games with #4 Missouri Baptist, winning 5-4, and losing 4-3. In the first game, DH Randy Joung, who reached on an error, scored the winning run on a balk by Carl Jameson in the bottom of the sixth of a seven-inning game. Labradford Griffis got a save; he struck out RF Enrique Pagan in the top of the seventh with the tying run at third base. 2B Jeff Smith hit a solo home run in the second inning for the winning run in the second game. Ryan Stapp got the win; he combined with two other pitchers to hold the Eagles to four hits.
The Eagles' other loss was to #15 Lindsey Wilson, 4-1. The Eagles held a 1-0 lead going into the seventh inning, but several errors in the seventh allowed the Blue Raiders to win it. LHP Jason Turner went the seven-inning distance for the Blue Raiders, allowed five hits. Jeremy Holcombe, who allowed only three hits, and struck out seven, got the loss.
The Eagles finished the weekend with a 7-4 win over #10 Cumberland. LHP Thomas Dorminy went the seven-inning distance for the Eagles, allowed two earned runs on four hits, struck out eight. LF Esteban Paula went 2-for-2 with two RBI.
The Eagles visit Blue Mountain Feb. 14-15.
Missouri Baptist is 1-3; they lost 6-5 (12 innings) to Lindsey Wilson, and 5-4 to Cumberland. Derek Shugart hit an RBI triple in the 12th for the win for the Blue Raiders. Sam Ross got the win, pitched five innings in relief. DH Richie Seaton hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to win it for Cumberland. The Bulldogs out-hit the Spartans 11-5, and SS Josciel Veras went 3-for-3 with two RBI for the Bulldogs. The Spartans play Campbellsville Feb. 13, Saint Francis Feb. 14, and Belhaven Feb. 15; all three games are at Belhaven.
The Blue Raiders split a double-header with Auburn-Montgomery the following day, making their record 3-4. They visit Point Feb. 14-15.
The Bulldogs also split a double-header with Auburn-Montgomery, making their record 2-2. They host Union U. (TN) Feb. 11, and Taylor Feb. 14-15. The Warhawks are 5-3, and they visit Brewton-Parker Feb. 14-15.
A four-team tournament at #2 Lewis-Clark State was cancelled by snow. They host Division II Montana State-Billings Feb. 14-16.
RHP Keegan Yuhl, a transfer from Lee, pitched a no-hitter for #9 Concordia-Irvine in a 9-0 non-conference win over Antelope Valley. Yuhl threw 115 pitches, struck out 12, walked three. Story from Concordia-Irvine: Keegan Yuhl Throws First No-Hitter In Concordia History. The story includes three video clips; scroll down to see them. Box score.
The Eagles didn't just get a no-hitter and a three game sweep of Antelope Valley; all three games were shutouts, and the Eagles allowed only four hits for the series.
#12 The Master's won two of three at #22 San Diego Christian in a Golden State Athletic Conference matchup of two teams that were previously undefeated. The scores were 4-2, 8-11, and 3-1. The Mustangs got three runs on the top of the ninth inning to win the first game; 1B Josh Brown hit a two-RBI single to bring in the winning run. Jason Karkenny pitched two perfect innings to get the win in relief. 3B Jeff Lusardi hit a home run, a double, and five RBI for the Hawks in the second game. RHP Tucker Richardson pitched a seven-inning gem for the Mustangs in the third game; three hits, nine strikeouts, one walk. He was one out short of a shutout; Lusardi hit a home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. The Mustangs visit Concordia-Irvine Feb. 7-8. The Hawks host #16 Cal State San Marcos Feb. 8.
The split between The Master's and San Diego Christian enabled Vanguard to take over first place in the GSAC. The Lions swept three games against Arizona Christian, 3-2, 4-2, and 2-1. The Lions were held to three hits by Ismael Castro in the first game, but all three Lions runs were unearned. CF Thomas Mobley hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to win the second game. Scott Torrey went the seven-inning distance for the Lions in the third game, didn't allow an earned run, allowed four hits, struck out six. The Lions visit Westmont Feb. 7-8. Live video
The 58th NAIA baseball season is already under way, and six games were played in California last weekend. The Golden State Athletic Conference is already playing conference matchups, with #9 Concordia-Irvine at Arizona Christian, Biola at The Master's, and San Diego Christian at Westmont. Ave Maria and Southeastern play Edward Waters and Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Lakeland, FL, Bryan hosts Lindenwood, Cal State San Marcos visits Vanguard, Doane visits Houston-Victoria, and Warner visits Webber International.
Here is an evaluation of the top 10 teams according to the pre-season coaches' poll:
#1 – Faulkner: The defending champions will have returning position players OF Michael Cruz (.355, 13 HR, 68 RBI; he led the Eagles in all three categories, and is a Pre-season All-American), C/IF Sergio Sanchez (.363, 65 RBI), IF Luis Sanchez (.344) and IF Dauris Holguin (.291). Their returning pitchers are RHP Julian Esquibel (11-2, 2.71 ERA), LHP Labradford Griffis (5-0, 2.11 ERA), and RHP Jeremy Holcombe (4-0, 3.19 ERA). They will have three key transfers; OF Willie Allen (Western Oklahoma State), C T.C. Mark (Arizona), RHP Kurt Lipscomb (Jacksonville State), and OF Omar Gomez (New Mexico Junior College). Games to watch: Missouri Baptist Feb. 7-8, Lindsey Wilson Feb. 7, Cumberland Feb. 8, at Tennessee Wesleyan March 5 Live Video
#2 – Lewis-Clark State: The Warriors have Cody Lavalli (.373, 10 HR), who was drafted in 37th round by the Rangers, and is a Pre-season All-American. Other returnees are OF/C Jake Shirley (.340), RHP Michael Noteware (missed most of 2013 with a medical redshirt), RHP Steve Thompson (5-5, 2.49 ERA), and RHP Dave Murillo (5-0, 3.02 ERA, 38 K). Their most impressive recruit is IF Michael Sexton, a freshman drafted in the 38th round by the Mariners. They also have RHP Gunnar Swanson (transfer from Everett CC; he was 9-2, 1.63 ERA with 8 complete games and 88 K there) and OF Raymond Pedrina. Games to watch: British Columbia Feb. 7, Concordia-Portland Feb. 8 and April 4-6, Western Oregon Feb. 21-23, at British Columbia March 7-9, at Western Oregon May 2, 4, at Linfield (Division III champion) May 3 Live Audio
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, has applied for membership in the Division II Sunshine State Conference.
The Eagles have made 12 trips to the National Championship tournament, ten of them in the last 11 seasons, under coaches Greg Guilliams and Randy Stegall. Their best finish was in 2005, when they were runners-up to Oklahoma City.
Joining the Sunshine State Conference would put the Eagles in the same conference with former NAIA opponents Barry and Rollins. The Eagles have been playing non-conference games against Tampa, the defending national Division II champions. The Eagles lost to them 2-1 (ten innings) this season.
Story by Brent Woronoff in the Daytona Beach News-Journal: ERAU makes case to NCAA conference
Concordia-Irvine won the National Championship in 2011. They would be joining former GSAC members Cal Baptist, Point Loma Nazarene, Azusa Pacific, and Fresno Pacific in the PacWest Conference.
Concordia-Portland is the defending champion of NAIA West. The Cavaliers went to the National Championship tournament in 2004. Rob Vance has been their Head Coach for 15 seasons. They have a new, good quality ballpark. They would, if accepted, compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). Whether they can break Western Oregon's long streak of conference championships remains to be seen.
These three schools would continue to complete in the NAIA through the 2015 season.
Georgetown College (KY) has applied for membership in the Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC). A previous application by Georgetown C. was turned down.
Schedule for the first two days of the 57th NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 24-25, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):
9 AM: #8 seed Sterling (48-12) vs. #9 Missouri Baptist (35-12)
(Sterling, KS) is making their first appearance at the Baseball
Rankings: #15 in coaches' poll, #31 in ISR. Strength of schedule: #105
Quality wins: Oklahoma City, Science and Arts of Oklahoma, 1-1 vs. York
Top position players: IF Joe Battaglia (.422, 10 HR, 63 RBI), IF Joe Williams (.395), OF Jared Forbush (.391)
Top pitchers: RHP Steven Cazares (9-1, 0.86 ERA), RHP Daniel Cloteaux (10-3, 2.81 ERA, 70 K). Cazare's ERA is second-lowest in the NAIA.
Coach: Adrian Dinkel, second season
Outlook: Happy to be here.
Baptist (Saint Louis) is making their first appearance at the
Baseball National Championship.
Rankings: #20 in coaches' poll, #23 in ISR. SoS: #56
Quality wins: 2-1 vs. Tennessee Wesleyan, including a 19-inning win in the final of the Kingsport bracket. 1-1 vs. Cumberland, 1-1 vs. Lindsey Wilson
Top position players: IF Patrick Johnson (.387), OF Ryan Gunhouse (.373, 7 HR, 40 RBI), IF Pier Olivier-Dostaler (.322, 34 RBI), IF Joseph Taylor (.241, 9 HR, 43 RBI). Olivier-Dostaler is one of six Canadians on the Spartans' roster, and they also have two Puerto Ricans.
Top pitchers: RHP Ethan Gibbons (10-0, 2.09 ERA, 85 K), RHP Julien Soucy (5-2, 1.90 ERA)
Coach: Eddy Uschold, 14th season
Outlook: The Spartans will go home with a win.