No. 1 Pilots ready for Opening Round
May 07, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the pairings and site selections for the 2012 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round on Sunday. Each of the nine locations will feature a five-team double-elimination tournament May 10 - 14.
Opening Round winners will join host Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at the 56th annual Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, May 25 - June 1.
Twenty-nine teams earned automatic berths to the 45-team Opening Round by winner their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments or regular-season championships. An additional 16 at-large selections - determined by the final NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll released Sunday - round out the field.
Among the 45 teams selected, 15 will make their respective program's debut in the Opening Round. Newcomers include: Arizona Christian, Asbury (Ky.), Bacone (Okla.), Dakota State (S.D.), Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), Georgetown (Ky.), Judson (Ill.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Menlo (Calif.), Peru State (Neb.), Point Park (Pa.), Siena Heights (Mich.), Shorter (Ga.), Sterling (Kan.) and Tabor (Kan.).
Ten squads are playing in their fourth-straight Opening Round. Lee (Tenn.) and Oklahoma City are a perfect 9-0 in four trips, while defending champion Concordia (Calif.) and Oklahoma Baptist are also undefeated, going 3-0 in Opening Round games a year ago.
Six qualifiers have previously won a World Series title, led by Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) with 16. The Warriors own a championship record mark of 119-37 in 30 previous appearances. Lubbock Christian (Texas), who enters the tournament with two banners, is the only other team in the field with multiple national titles.
The LSU Shreveport Pilots, who topped the NAIA Baseball Coaches' poll for the sixth consecutive week, will head to Paducah, Kentucky, for the Opening Round of the 2012 NAIA Baseball National Championship joining five other teams.
The no. 1 Pilots make their 4th straight trip to the opening round supporting a record of 5-4 after sweeping through last year's Montgomery Bracket winning all three games they played. This year the Pilots will join second-seeded Lindsey Wilson, third-seeded Bellevue, fourth-seeded Peru State, and fifth-seeded Grand View at Brooks Stadium - Doc Hideg Field. The Paducah Bracket will begins on Thursday, May 10, with Peru State taking on Grand View at 10 a.m. CDT and then Lindsey Wilson and Bellevue are matched for the second game at 2 p.m. while the Pilots will play the winner of the Peru State/Grand View game being the last game of the day at 6:30 p.m.
#1 (1) LSU Shreveport Pilots (48-4, 22-4 RRAC)
The no. 1 seed LSU Shreveport Pilots enter the Opening Round Bracket riding a 13-game winning streak and have also won 29 of their last 30 games. All four losses this year have been decided by one-run. The Pilots won their third consecutive conference tournament, second in the Red River Athletic Conference, last weekend sweeping through the tournament field a week after claiming their second straight RRAC regular season title.
The Pilots have been paced by pitching staff that has posted a team earned run average of 2.98, 6th best in the NAIA, along with excellent starting pitching with a pair of 10-game winners in Matt Lackie (10-0, 2.38) and Jared Mortensen (10-1, 1.64) both have tossed five complete games this year. Mortensen is 3rd in the nation with 115 batters struck out while Logan Norris (7-1, 3.80) has provided some quality outings at the conclusion of weekend series this year adding the icing on the cake to a successful weekend for the Pilots. Mid-week starter, Drew Middleton, was also called upon to pick up some big wins for the Pilots this season including the game that clinched the Pilots the RRAC Tournament title.
The LSUS' offense has executed well this year with some timely hits leading to a nation's best 8.4 RBI per game and 9.3 runs scored per game while providing some spark on the base paths with 115 stolen bases. Stephen Hobbins leads the team with a .393 batting average while Kyle Pearson leads the team with 13 home runs with Greg Friesen not far behind with 12 round trippers. Pearson also leads the team with 63 RBIs while Friesen has driven in 59.
The Blue Raiders won the regular season title in the Mid-South Conference which was in the midst of a 22-game winning streak but have cooled off over the last eight games with a record of 4-4 including a second place finish in the conference tournament losing to the fifth-seeded Shawnee State 6-4 in the semi-finals.
Lindsey Wilson's pitching staff has posted the 8th best ERA (3.01) in the NAIA led by a pair of 8-game winners in Derek Cape (8-1, 3.23) and Darren Travers (8-2, 3.35) while Daniel Pulliam (7-3, 1.74) leads the team in ERA and innings pitched with 82.2 in the books.
The offense hits for average and not power with a .301 average and only 24 home runs as a team.
#3 (RV) Bellevue Bruins (39-19, 17-3 MCAC)
The Bruins claimed the regular season title in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference and a second place finish in the MCAC Tournament last week falling to York College 3-0 in the championship game. The Bruins are 8-2 over their last 10 games with both losses coming against York in the conference tournament.
Bellevue has a .318 team batting average while posting a team ERA of 4.10. Brandon Thompson is the biggest power threat in the lineup as he leads the team as the slugger with the second best average of .377 while leading the team with 14 home runs and 58 RBI. Kody Mcfarland has a record of 9-2 with a 2.85 ERA while Michael Calderon is 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA providing a strong 1-2 punch on the mound.
#4 (RV) Peru State Bobcats (35-16, 15-11 HAAC)
The Bobcats are probably the hottest #4 seed in the country as they have won 11 of their last 12 games including four in a row as they defeated Central Methodist 4-3 to claim the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament championship in their first year in the conference.
The Bobcats have a team batting average of .323 with 32 long balls while having a team ERA of 3.84. Jeff Eubank leads the team with a .424 batting average with 8 homers and 60 runs batted in while Scott Will has the best numbers on the mound with a 9-3 record with a 2.76 ERA.
#5 Grand View Vikings (27-27, 16-8 MCC)
Des Moines, Iowa
The Vikings won seven of the final eight games and claimed the Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament title with a 7-4 win in the Championship game over Iowa Wesleyan.
The Vikings are led by Brady Whalen at the plate with a team leading .328 batting average and seven home runs while Tyler Browns leads the club with 32 runs batted in while only batting .275. Joe Ramberg is the only pitcher on the staff with a winning record of 8-5 and a 4.79 ERA. The team has a batting average of .300 and the pitching staff has a team ERA of 6.19.
To view the complete list of bracket pairings and the release from the NAIA click here.