Pilots breeze through RRAC Tournament
May 05, 2011SHREVEPORT, La. - The no. 8 LSU Shreveport Pilots are eager to find out where they will play this year's NAIA Opening Round Tournament. Last season the Pilots were the no. 1 seed at Columbus, Georgia, and it is almost certain that they will be a no. 1 seed again this year but it will be somewhere else since Columbus is not hosting this year.
There will be nine Opening Round sites with each consisting of a five-team double elimination tournament with the winner advancing to the 2011 Avista NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
In four games in the RRAC Tournament the Pilots dominated their opponents outscoring them 47-6 as they averaged 11.75 runs per game. Kyle Pearson led the Pilot hitters with a .688 average going 11 for 18 with four doubles, three home runs, and 13 runs batted in. Kevin Smith continued his success at the plate going eight for 16 with two homers and eight RBIs. Andrew Brouillette hit .429 for the tournament and led the team with five walks.
LSUS compiled a team batting average .372 and hit seven home runs in route to their fifth tournament championship in the past six seasons.
As impressive as the offense was the pitching from the Pilot's staff was more impressive as they allowed just six runs in the four games and only three of the runs were earned.
The Pilots got four quality starts from the starters with three of the four earning the wins in the tournament. Jared Mortensen was the most dominate as he picked up the win as the Pilots eliminated the Texas Wesleyan Rams, the defending RRAC Tournament Champion. Mortensen tossed eight innings and allowed just four hits, one walk, and struck out the tournament high 13 batters.
Cody Boutte started the first game for the Pilots against Texas College and threw four innings allowing only two hits, no walks, and struck out five. Boutte was relieved by the bullpen as the Pilots put up a nine-run top of the fifth inning and he was taken out of the game in case the Pilots needed him later in the tournament.
Jared Mata picked up the win as the Pilots handed the UT-Brownsville Scorpions their first loss of the tournament. He threw six and 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs, one walk, and three strike outs.
Logan Norris earned the victory in the Championship Game defeating the Scorpions 10-1. He threw seven solid innings allowing no earned runs, three hits, no walks and four strikeouts.
The Pilots bullpen was just as impressive as they tossed a total of eight and 2/3 and allowed no earned runs.
Cade Bowen and Cole Newell each had three innings of work. Bowen allowed just one hit, a bad hop single, and struck out four while Newell allowed just four hits and walked one.
Ben Suit had one inning of work and allowed two hits but also struck out two and did not allow a run. Drew Middleton threw one and 2/3. He entered with the bases loaded and only one out in a six run game at the time as Brownsville needed just one big hit to get back in the game. Middleton go the double-play to end the inning and then worked a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts.
The LSUS pitching staff by far had the lowest ERA of any staff in the tournament with a 0.79. In 34 innings pitched they allowed 24 hits, only three earned runs, three walks, and 33 strikeouts.
The Pilots will enter this year's opening round tournament with a chip on their shoulder as they have failed to make it past this tournament since the new post season format began in 2009 with the nine five-team tournaments. The last time the Pilots went to the NAIA World Series was in 2003 when they won the Region XII Tournament, the Super Regional, and then finished in third place in Lewiston.
LSUS is possibly just three wins away from their second appearance in Lewiston, Idaho, the NAIA version of Omaha. The Pilots should be one of nine no. 1 seeds again this year and if they stay in the winner's bracket it will take only three wins to win the tournament.
The pairings for this year's NAIA Opening Tournament and sites will be announced this Sunday, May 8. The Belhaven Blazers in Jackson, Mississippi, have been approved as a possible host and the Blazers will likely be a no. 2 seed leaving that site needing a number one seed which the Pilots will be so it is possible that the Pilots could return to one of their rivals in the former GCAC.
But so much can happen with the selection committee and they may need to send the Pilots to another site, maybe even Lubbock, Texas, if host Lubbock Christian does not make it as a number 1 seed.
"We can look at it a thousand times and try to predict where we will go but you never know what will happen. We do know that we will be going somewhere and it is our goal when we get there to win it and go back to Idaho for the World Series," said LSUS head coach Rocke Musgraves.
"We have always played well at Smith-Wills and would love to go there but we will just wait and see," said Musgraves regarding the site in Jackson.