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2012 Avista-NAIA World Series Preview

May 24, 2012
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By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications & Sports Information

LEWISTON, Idaho. - (Schedule | Bracket - PDF | Live Stats | Live Video) For the 56th time in the history of NAIA baseball, the Avista-NAIA World Series will play out from May 25 - June 1 at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho. First pitch of the 10-team double-elimination tournament will be at 9 a.m. PDT when No. 7 Point Park (Pa.) and No. 10 College of Idaho square off.

Following Point Park and College of Idaho, No. 8 South Carolina Beaufort and No. 9 Rogers State (Okla.) take to the field at noon, followed by No. 4 Tennessee Wesleyan and No. 5 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) at 3 p.m. and No. 3 Oklahoma City and No. 6 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at 7 p.m.

No. 1 LSU Shreveport (La.) and No. 2 Lee (Tenn.) open action on Saturday. The Flames will take on the winner of Point Park and College of Idaho at 3 p.m., while the Pilots face off against either South Carolina Beaufort or Rogers State at 6:30 p.m.

Five of last year's nine World Series qualifiers return to the field, including Lee who is making its sixth-consecutive trip to Harris Field. Behind the Flames are Embry-Riddle and Oklahoma City with five-straight appearances, while Point Park is snapping a 14-year drought and College of Idaho makes the trip for the first time since 2002.

South Carolina Beaufort and Rogers State are each making their first appearances in the World Series. The Sand Sharks were the last team to punch their ticket, winning five-straight loser's bracket contests en route to a title at the Hardeeville (S.C.) Bracket. Rogers State took the opposite road to Lewiston, going 3-0 at the Hutchinson (Kan.) Bracket, including an exciting 5-4 extra-inning victory against top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist to reach the title game.

Lewis-Clark State owns the most wins all-time in the history of the event with a 119-38 record in 30 previous all-time appearances. The Warriors own an NAIA-record 16 titles. Oklahoma City is second amongst the qualifiers with 14 all-time trips, while Embry-Riddle and Point Park are tied for third with 11, respectively.

Top-seeded LSU Shreveport enters the event with a qualifier-best 16-game win streak dating back to April 13. The Pilots are 51-4 and own an NAIA-best .927 winning percentage this season. LSU Shreveport's four losses are the least amongst the 10 World Series teams, followed by Lee and Point Park with 9.

Three conferences will have multiple teams playing in the World Series. Oklahoma City and Rogers State represent the Sooner Athletic Conference, which sends multiple teams for the fourth-straight year, Embry-Riddle and South Carolina Beaufort hail from The Sun Conference and Lewis-Clark State and College of Idaho represent the NAIA West (Unaffiliated Group No. 2).

Defending national champion Concordia (Calif.) failed to advance out of the Opening Round after losing to Doane (Neb.), 6-5, in the Marion (Ind.) Bracket. This marks the second-straight year that the defending national champion has not reached the World Series.

The World Series is a double-elimination tournament with the winner being crowned either May 31 or June 1, dependent upon if the eventual champion drops one of its earlier round games. For ticket information, contact the Lewis-Clark State ticket booth at 208-792-2471 or online at www.naiaworldseries.com/2012/tickets.

NeuLion, the NAIA's digital media partner and official video streaming company of 10 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting all games at the 2012 Avista-NAIA World Series. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-series pass is available for $39.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

2012 Avista-NAIA World Series - Team Notes
No. 1 LSU Shreveport (La.) (51-4)
• LSU Shreveport is making its second-straight and third overall appearance at the Avista-NAIA World Series.
• The Pilots earned a spot in the World Series with a victory against second-seeded Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), 5-1, in the title game of the Paducah (Ky.) Bracket on May 12.
• LSU Shreveport is one of three teams with 50-plus wins and owns an NAIA-best .927 (51-4) winning percentage this season.
• The Pilots enter the Series with a qualifier-best 16-game win streak dating back to April 13.
• All four of LSU Shreveport's regular-season losses were decided by one run.
• The Pilots have won two-straight Red River Athletic Conference titles
• Head coach Rocke Musgraves claimed his 500th career victory with a doubleheader sweep of Houston-Victoria (Texas) on Feb. 20.
• LSU Shreveport ranks amongst the top 10 nationally in the following categories: runs scored per game (9.1), RBIs per game (8.3), runs scored (502), RBIs (454), hits per game (11.5), opponent batting average (.216), slugging percentage (.517), batting average (.351), earned run average (2.9), strikeouts (441), triples (20) and doubles per game (2.2).
• Senior right-hander Jared Mortensen (11-1) leads the team and ranks second in the NAIA with 125 strikeouts. He owns eight double-digit strikeout games this season, including a season-high 12 K's against Wiley (Texas) on Feb. 17. Mortensen's 11 victories is tied for the team lead with Matt Lackie.
• Kyle Pearson paces the LSU Shreveport offense with 13 home runs, 64 RBIs and a .733 slugging percentage, while Greg Friesen owns a team-best .394 batting average in 55 games.
• Seven Pilots earned mention on the All-RRAC team, including Pearson and Mortensen who were named RRAC Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

No. 2 Lee (Tenn.) (54-9-1)
• Lee is making its sixth-straight appearance in the World Series.
• The Flames have won 13 of their last 14, including a 13-0 thrashing of Faulkner (Ala.) in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament championship game on April 30 and an 8-5 victory against Missouri Baptist in the title contest of the Cleveland (Tenn.) Bracket on May 14.
• Lee owns an NAIA-best 54 wins this season.
• Head coach Mark Brew earned his 300th career win with a 6-5 victory over Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) on March 21.
• Junior pitcher Kris Hall was named NAIA National Pitcher of the Week on March 13. Hall's 1.52 earned run average and 11 victories rank fifth nationally. He has pitched at least six innings 11 times this season, including a season-best eight inning, 15 strikeout performance against Loyola (La.) on March 9.
• Lee had four players receive first team All-SSAC honors including: Blake Barber, Corey Davis, Jose Samayoa and Hall.
• The Flames rank amongst the top five nationally in the following categories: at bats (2094), putouts (1592), innings pitched (531.2), strikeouts (527), opponent batting average (.210) ERA (2.56), fielding percentage (.969), hits (660) and RBIs (449).
• Barber paces the Lee offense with a .416 batting average, .658 slugging percentage and .502 on-base percentage. He ranks third nationally with 96 hits this season, including 17 doubles, six triples and nine home runs. Teammate Roberto Reyes is second in the NAIA with 82 RBIs. He also owns a team-best 15 home runs this season.
• The Flames are 0-2 all-time in World Series championship games, falling to Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), 8-3, in 2008 and against Cumberland (Tenn.), 4-3, in 2010.

No. 3 Oklahoma City (47-10)
• The Stars are making the team's fifth-consecutive trip to Harris Field.
• Oklahoma City's 14 all-time appearances and 32 World Series victories ranks second all-time
• In 2005, the Stars won the program's first and only national championship, besting Embry-Riddle (Fla.), 8-1 in the title game.
• The Stars won the Sooner Athletic Conference regular-season title for a second year in a row.
• Following a 2-1 loss to Sterling (Kan.), the Oklahoma City pitching staff tossed three consecutive shutouts en route to the Star's fourth-straight Opening Round title. Oklahoma City is 13-1 all-time in the NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round.
• SAC Player of the Year Miguel Beltran leads the country with 25 home runs this season. He posted five multi-home run games this year, the last coming on April 27 against Wayland Baptist (Texas).
• Oklahoma City possesses one of the nation's top offenses, ranking amongst the top five in doubles per game (2.5), home runs per game (1.5), slugging percentage (.597), batting average (.352), doubles (143), hits per game (11.3) and RBIs per game (7.4).
• Rich Hawkins and Blake Schwartz lead the Star pitching staff with 11 wins apiece, while Hawkins owns a team leading 1.96 ERA. Schwartz is the team's top strikeout pitcher with 103 on the season. As a team, Oklahoma City is holding opponents to a .223 batting average.
• The Stars landed five individuals on the All-SAC first team (Chad Carman, Beltran, Chris Munoz, Dane Phillips and Hawkins).

No. 4 Tennessee Wesleyan (48-11)
• The Bulldogs come to Lewiston for the third-straight year after rolling through the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament and the Kingsport (Tenn.) Bracket. However, regular-season and tournament wins have not translated into World Series success as Tennessee Wesleyan is 0-4 all-time.
• Tennessee Wesleyan has won at least 40 games the past six seasons.
• Stephen Branca was named the AAC's Player of the Year, while Jeremy Fitzgerald earned Pitcher of the Year honors. In addition to Branca and Fitzgerald, Josh Culler, Taylor Oldham and Jake Stone received first team honors.
• Much of Tennessee Wesleyan's success this season had been predicated on an offense that leads the nation in RBIs (471), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.532), runs scored per game (8.6), RBIs per game (8.0) and runs scored (505).
• Individually, Branca leads the team with a .442 batting average, while pacing the nation with 80 runs scored. Oldham has emerged as the squad's top power source with 19 home runs, 83 RBIs and a .728 slugging percentage on the year.
• The Bulldog pitching staff owns a 3.66 ERA and .248 opponent batting average this season. Fitzgerald leads the team with 10 wins in 15 appearances, including a pair of complete game shutouts on March 4 against Virginia Intermont and on March 31 versus Bluefield (Va.).
• Tennessee Wesleyan is currently riding a 14-game win streak with its last loss coming against Montreat (N.C.) on April 21 (4-3).

No. 5 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (43-16)
• Embry-Riddle is making its fifth-straight appearance in the World Series after winning the Daytona Beach (Fla.) Bracket, 10-4, over second-seeded Auburn Montgomery (Ala.).
• The Eagles claimed their fifth-consecutive and 13th overall Sun Conference regular-season title in 2012.
• Embry-Riddle won its 900th game in program history with a 10-6 victory over Cumberland (Tenn.) on March 6.
• The Eagles' 11 all-time World Series appearances are tied for third with Point Park amongst qualifying schools.
• Embry-Riddle placed 10 total players on The Sun Conference all-conference teams for the second-consecutive season, including first team award winners Chris Page, Ben Kline, Frankie Arias, Ian MacGeorge, Greg Smith, Daniel Eaton and Kevin Maloney.
• Jeff Lemon owns a team-best .372 batting average this season, while Arias is second on the team at .351. Four Eagles have at least 40 RBIs this season, led by MacGeorge's 60.
• Junior left-hander Kevin Maloney has emerged as the ace of the Eagles staff with a team leading 1.68 earned run average and nine victories in 69.2 innings of work. Additionally, he ranks second on the squad with a .244 opponent batting average and fourth with 47 strikeouts.
• Embry-Riddle has won nine of its last 11 games entering the World Series.

No. 6 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (41-12)
• 2012 marks the 13th-straight - 21st overall - time that Lewis-Clark State has hosted the Avista-NAIA World Series.
• The Warriors own the most wins all-time in the history of the event with a 119-37 record in 30 previous all-time appearances.
• Lewis-Clark State boasts a NAIA-best 16 titles with the last coming in 2008. Since 2008, the Warriors are 3-6 in World Series contests, including a 1-5 record against teams in this year's field.
• The Warriors rank amongst the top 10 nationally in the following categories: at bats per game (36.4), hits per game (11.7), doubles per game (2.5), RBIs per game (7.3), doubles (132), opponent batting average (.227), runs scored per game (8.0), at-bats (1927), ERA (3.04) and strikeouts (408).
• Trent Bridges leads the team with a .396 batting average and .480 on base percentage, while Alfonso Casillas paces the squad with 10 home runs, 20 doubles, 62 RBIs and a .650 slugging percentage. As a team, Lewis-Clark State has outscored opponents 409-228 this season, including 41-17 in the first inning.
• The Warrior pitching staff is led by Michael Noteware and Anthony Armanino with both players having nine victories in 79-plus innings this season. Noteware owns a 2.03 ERA this season and posted a season-best 12 strikeouts on March 10 against Simpson (Calif.).
• Lewis-Clark State is 24-6 (.800) in games at Harris Field this season.

No. 7 Point Park (Pa.) (51-9)
• Point Park is making its first appearance in the Avista-NAIA World Series since 1998. It's the program's 11th trip to the national championship all-time.
• The Pioneers are 10-20 all-time at the World Series with their best finish coming in 1986 when they took fourth
• Point Park is one of three teams in the field with 50-plus wins this season.
• The Pioneers returned only three starters from last year's team that finished the regular-season 38-13 and was the first team out of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
• Consistent pitching has been one of the keys to Point Park's success this season. As a staff, the Pioneers have six pitchers with at least nine appearances and earned run averages under three. Derek Peluso is the team's ace, posting a 9-1 record, 2.23 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 12 starts this season. Closer Mike Tullio leads the squad and ranks fourth nationally with 14 saves.
• The Pioneers are 19-2 in their last 21 games and have only lost back-to-back games once this season.
• Tom Pasinski leads the team with a .351 batting average, while Javier Marticorena has emerged as the squad's primary power threat with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 37 games.
• Point Park is 0-8 in its last four appearances at the World Series

No. 8 South Carolina Beaufort (40-17)
• South Carolina Beaufort is making its first appearance in the World Series and will face off against fellow newcomer Rogers State (Okla.) on Friday at 12 p.m. PDT.
• The Sand Sharks won five-straight elimination games to win the Hardeeville (S.C.) Bracket of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, culminating with an 11-2 win over Sun Conference rival St. Thomas (Fla.) on May 14.
• The team's 40 victories this season is a new school record
• South Carolina Beaufort faced potential World Series opponents Embry-Riddle (Fla.) and Tennessee Wesleyan during the regular season. The Sand Sharks went 2-4 against the Eagles and Bulldogs, including taking two of three from Embry-Riddle on April 6 - 7.
• As a team, the Sand Sharks average 6.3 runs per game and boast a .301 team batting average. Dylan Nasiatka, a senior catcher from Bakersfield, Calif., owns a team-best .335 batting average in 53 games this season.
• On the mound, South Carolina Beaufort has a 3.31 team earned run average and .257 opponent batting average. Michael Heesch leads the nation with 114 innings pitched, while rating fifth in walks allowed per nine innings (0.95) and 12th in total strikeouts (108). Heesch's nine victories are tied with Adam Miller for the team lead.

No. 9 Rogers State (Okla.) (45-15)
• Rogers State is making its first appearance in the World Series after cruising through the Hutchinson (Kan.) Bracket.
• The Hillcats finished third overall in the Sooner Athletic Conference with a 20-10 league record, trailing only Oklahoma City (26-4) and Oklahoma Baptist (22-8).
• Rogers State has dedicated the season to the late Hillcat pitcher Tyler Brown, who passed away in a car accident last fall.
• Rogers State opens play against fellow newcomer South Carolina Beaufort at 12 p.m. on Friday with the winner advancing to play No. 1 LSU Shreveport (La.).
• Junior outfielder Eric Baker has started all 59 games this season and leads the team in batting average (.391), hits (84), runs scored (55), triples (5), total bases (122) and slugging percentage (.567), while ranking second on the team in doubles (16) and stolen bases (21).
• Shawn Spainhoward and Eric Faust are tied for the team lead with nine victories this season. Spainhoward also paces the staff with a 2.87 ERA and is holding opponents to just a .220 batting average this season.
• The Hillcats enter the World Series with a 13-2 record in their last 15 games.

No. 10 College of Idaho (41-19)
• College of Idaho returns to Lewiston for the first time since 2002 - fifth overall.
• The Coyotes are one of three teams in the field with a national title under their belt, claiming the crown with a 6-3 victory over Indiana Tech in the program's first-ever appearance (1998).
• College of Idaho's 41 victories marks the 26th-straight season the Coyotes have won at least 25 games.
• Head coach Shawn Humberger eclipsed the 400 win mark with a doubleheader sweep of Menlo (Calif.) on April 22.
• Outfielder Izaac Garsez leads the NAIA with 12 triples this season, while ranking fifth in total bases (158), sixth in runs scored (75) and ninth in hits (91). Additionally, his .396 batting average leads the team, while also pacing the squad in slugging percentage (.687), stolen bases (29) and home runs (8).
• Taylor Nicholson boasts a team best 9-2 record, 2.47 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 11 starts this season. He also owns one save, six shy of team leader Todd Griffiths' seven.
• The Coyotes are 5-5 in their last 10 games entering the World Series.