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Baseball National Championship Opening Round Preview

May 08, 2013
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By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Schedule | Statistics) The 2013 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round opens play Thursday at nine locations across the country. Each host site features a five-team double-elimination bracket, showcasing three games on Thursday and Friday, two Saturday and an “if necessary” game on Monday.

National Championship Opening Round winners join host Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at the 57th annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho, May 24 – 31. The 10-team World Series bracket will be released May 13. For more information on the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, click here.

Opening Round newcomers Ave Maria (Fla.) (37-19) and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) (38-17) in the Daytona Beach Bracket will kick off action at 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

Eight of the nine 2012 World Series qualifiers return to the field, including defending national champion Tennessee Wesleyan. The Bulldogs (43-16) – top seed in the Kingsport Bracket for the second-straight year – received an automatic berth with a 10-1 victory over Virginia Intermont in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament title game on May 3. Tennessee Wesleyan is 12-4 all-time in Opening Round action, including a 6-1 mark over the last two seasons. The Bulldogs open action at 6 p.m. EDT against the winner of fourth seeded Taylor (Ind.) (34-12) and fifth seed Benedictine-Springfield (Ill.) (23-23). Taylor and Benedictine-Springfield open the bracket at 11 a.m.

In addition to Tennessee Wesleyan, 2012 World Series qualifier Point Park (Pa.) is the second seed in the Kingsport Bracket. The Pioneers, who are at the same site as the defending national champion for the second-consecutive season, enter the opening round with a 39-14 record after winning their second Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship. Point Park will play No. 3 Missouri Baptist (31-11) at 2:30 p.m.

The Lee Bracket spotlights another pair of 2012 World Series teams in top-seeded Lee (Tenn.) and third seed LSU Shreveport (La.). The Flames (46-10) are 13-1 in four previous Opening Rounds and are vying for a spot in Lewiston for the seventh-straight season. Propelled by a dominant pitching staff, Lee has been ranked in the top five in all eight of the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Polls this season. The Flames lead the NAIA in opponent batting average (.200), earned run average (1.82) and total strikeouts (458). Lee, who has hosted every year since the format began in 2009, awaits the winner of No. 4 Avila (Mo.) (27-20) and No. 5 Grand View (Iowa) (25-19) at 12 p.m. EDT.

LSU Shreveport (40-16) earned an automatic spot by defeating Texas Wesleyan (40-16) – No. 2 seed in the Montgomery Bracket – in back-to-back games en route its third-straight Red River Athletic Conference Tournament crown. The Pilots face third seed Madonna (Mich.) (36-9), who is making its first trip to the Opening Round since 2010, at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Similarly to Lee, Oklahoma City headlines the Oklahoma City Bracket as the No. 1 seed for the fifth-straight year. The Stars boast a 47-11 record – tied for the most wins in the NAIA – this season and received the first at-large berth following a 6-5 extra-inning loss to Lubbock Christian (Texas) in the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament championship game. Oklahoma City has emerged as the Opening Round champion four years in-a-row and owns a 13-1 record in the event. The Stars lone Opening Round loss came against Sterling (Kan.) in 2012, 2-1. The second seeded Warriors return to Oklahoma City for the second-straight season and will have an opportunity to face Oklahoma City in Game 5 on Friday. However, to reach that point, Sterling will need a victory against No. 3 Science & Arts (Okla.) (40-17) at 2:30 p.m. CDT and Oklahoma City will have to beat the winner of No. 4 Northwestern (Iowa) (31-17) and No. 5 Jamestown (N.D.) (28-9) at 6 p.m.

Other teams earning top seeds and eyeing a trip to the World Series are Faulkner (Ala.) (47-10) in the Montgomery Bracket, Lubbock Christian (42-15) in the Claremore Bracket, Northwood (Texas) (40-11) in the Hattiesburg Bracket, The Master’s (Calif.) (40-15) in the Santa Clarita Bracket and York (Neb.) (41-10) in the Joliet Bracket. Lubbock Christian boasts the most World Series appearances amongst the group with 10, while Northwood and York are searching for its first-ever trip to Lewiston. Faulkner (2011) and The Master’s (2000) have one appearance each.

Twenty-nine teams earned automatic berths to the Opening Round field by placing first or second at their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments or by winning a regular-season championship. An additional 16 at-large selections – determined by the final NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released May 5 – round out the field.

Among the 45 qualifying teams, 10 will make their respective program’s debut in the Opening Round. Newcomers include: Ave Maria, Benedictine-Springfield, Central Methodist (Mo.), Concordia (Ore.) (28-26), Lyon (Ark.) (41-14), Martin Methodist, Midland (Neb.) (31-24), San Diego Christian (Calif.) (37-18), Science & Arts and Trinity Christian (Ill.) (25-22).

Seven qualifiers have previously won a World Series title, led by Lewis-Clark State’s 16. Lubbock Christian and Cumberland (Tenn.) (39-17-1), who both enter the tournament with two banners, are the only other teams in the field with multiple national titles.

NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video-streaming company of 18 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the first 17 games of the 2013 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series (May 24 – 29). Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-World Series pass is available for $29.95. For more information, including how to test your computer and internet connection, click here. The championship final May 30 and the “if necessary” game May 31 will be streamed live on www.ESPN3.com.

For more information on the 2013 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round and Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, click here.

2013 NAIA Baseball Opening Round and World Series Facts
Portions of this information courtesy of Denny Grubb and www.naiaworldseries.com
• The Opening Round format for baseball was first established in 2009. Prior to that, teams qualified for the World Series using a regional format. The 2013 season, marks the first year that NAIA softball has used an opening round format.
• Host schools in the Opening Round boast a 78-21 record and have advanced to the World Series in 18-of-26 attempts.
• No fourth or fifth seeded teams have every won an Opening Round championship
• In 2012, No. 1 seeds won 5-of-9 Opening Round championships. Point Park (Pa.) was the lone No. 2 seed to advance, while College of Idaho, USC Beaufort and Rogers State punched their tickets to Lewiston after being a No. 3 seed.
• Seven teams have participated in every Opening Round since the format began in 2009: Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Indiana Tech, Lee (Tenn.), LSU Shreveport (La.), Lubbock Christian (Texas), Oklahoma City and Tennessee Wesleyan. Embry-Riddle, Lee and Oklahoma City highlight the group with four Opening Round championships, while Lubbock Christian and Tennessee Wesleyan own three each.
• 103 schools have participated in the Opening Round over the course of five years.
• Ten teams are making their first appearance in 2013: Ave Maria (Fla.), Benedictine-Springfield (Ill.), Central Methodist (Mo.), Concordia (Ore.), Lyon (Ark.), Martin Methodist (Tenn.), Midland (Neb.), San Diego Christian (Calif.), Science & Arts (Okla.) and Trinity Christian (Ill.).
• Oklahoma City and Lee are tied for the most victories in Opening Round history with 13.
• Over the course of 57 years, the World Series has traveled to 10 different sites across eight states. This year marks the 14th consecutive and 22nd overall that the event has been held in Lewiston, Idaho. From 1985-1991, teams embarked upon Lewiston and returned in 2000 to present day.
• Thirty-two different teams have won the baseball national championship, seven of which claimed multiple times. Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) leads all programs with 16 banners, followed by Grand Canyon (Ariz.) with four and Lewis (Ill.) with three. David Lipscomb (Tenn.), Lubbock Christian and Cumberland (Tenn.) have each twice won the national championship
• Twenty-three teams have played in the title game, but not taken home the title, including 2012 qualifiers Embry-Riddle (2005), Lee (2008, 2010) and Rogers State (Okla.) (2012).
• Since the inaugural World Series in 1957, 41 states have been represented in the championship game. This includes Canadian provinces.
• The national championship has been pushed into extra innings five times, with the last happening in 2006. The longest title contest occurred in 1968 as William Jewell (Mo.) defeated Georgia Southern, 4-3, in 13 innings.
• Fifteen title games have been decided by one run with the last coming in 2010. Conversely, it has been 17 years since the national champion won by shutout.