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Baseball - Fri, May 12, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
HIU made its postseason case by clinching the regular season title & playing in the GSAC Tourney Championship
HIU made its postseason case by clinching the regular season title & playing in the GSAC Tourney Championship

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Opening Round Schedule | Video Selection Show) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the 45-team field and brackets for the 2017 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round. The event, which is a five-team, double-elimination format, takes place May 15 – 18 at nine host locations. The nine Opening Round champions join Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at the 61st annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, May 26 – June 2.

The 45-team field consists of 30 automatic qualifiers – given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up – and 15 at-large teams. Conferences with 10-or-more members received two automatic qualifiers, while leagues with less than 10 are given one.

At-large teams were determined by the NAIA Baseball National Selection Committee (NSC). The NSC consists of one representative from each geographic area, a representative from the National Administrative Council (NAC) Postseason Selection and Ratings Committee, the past president of the NAIA-Baseball Coaches Association and three at-large members. The committee evaluated teams throughout the year on various criteria.

Your Royals are one of nine teams that make their first-ever appearance in the 45-team field this season – Midway (KY) from the Lima Bracket is also making its first-ever appearance and could potentially face HIU at the Opening Round site hosted by Northwestern Ohio.

HIU is part of the five-team field at University of Northwestern Ohio in the Lima Bracket. The field is comprised of host No. 7 Northwestern Ohio, No. 10 Middle Georgia State, (RV) HIU, unranked MidAmerica Nazarene (KS), and unranked Midway (KY).

No. 7 University of Northwestern Ohio

The UNOH Racers were tabbed to host by the NAIA after compiling a 43-10 overall record with a 28-1 record in the WHAC. The Racers qualified for the postseason as the WHAC Regular Season Champion and are the top seed at the site by virtue of their No. 7 ranking in the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 poll. UNOH is led by Jeff Cardenas at the plate who hits .410 (82-for-200) entering the Opening Round and leads the team in RBI with 84. Junior Gomez is the top slugger on the team with 17 doubles and nine homers while slugging at a rate of .634.

Damon Proctor leads the Racers' staff with a 1.46 ERA and a perfect record at 12-0 in 15 starts, including five complete games and three shutouts. Proctor also leads the team in strikeouts with 120 after 105 innings of work entering the Opening Round.

No. 10 Middle Georgia State

MGA was awarded an at-large berth with a 43-14 overall record and a record of 18-4 in the Southern States Athletics Conference. The Knights are the second seed by virtue of their No. 10 ranking. Will Golden leads the Knights with a .395 batting average (77-for-195), 68 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. Golden is also the most reliable power threat for MGA with 23 doubles and 11 home runs, while Andy Mocahbee is just behind with 18 doubles and 14 home runs.

Chris Rich boasts an ERA of 3.08 in 10 starts and 52.2 innings of work while holding opposing batters to a .230 batting average with a 7-2 record in 13 appearances. Mason Klotz leads the staff in strikeouts with 115 in 84 innings of work and also has the most wins of any Knights pitcher with a 9-3 record.

(RV) Hope International

HIU was also awarded an at-large berth and is the only team from the West Coast to receive such a bid. The Royals made their case by winning the GSAC Regular Season with a 20-10 record in conference and boast an overall record of 32-16 after finishing the 2017 GSAC Tournament as the runners-up to The Master's. Cameron Baranek, the Royals' All-GSAC centerfielder, leads the team hitting .335 (59-for-176) and is also the most reliable slugger with nine doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, and 31 RBI for a slugging percentage of .608. Sean David Clark leads the team in RBI at 38.

The Royals' starting rotation is led by George Castillo with a 3.81 ERA and a 7-3 overall record in 14 starts. A two-time GSAC Pitcher of the Week this season, Castillo also leads the Royals in strikeouts with 74 and has pitched the most innings of any HIU starter with 80.1 entering the Opening Round.

MidAmerica Nazarene (KS)

MidAmerica Nazarene clinched a berth as the Heart of America Conference Tournament winner. The Pioneers boast a 34-18 overall record and an 18-14 record against HAAC teams and were given the fourth seed in the bracket by the selection committee. MNU is led by Jacob Jenkins at the plate who is hitting .399 (71-for-178) entering the Opening Round. Robert Berning leads the Pioneers in extra-base hits as their most reliable power hitter with 22 doubles, nine home runs, and a .645 slugging percentage.

The MNU pitching staff is led by Matt Terrones who boasts an ERA of 2.89 and an 8-4 record in 12 starts, including four complete games. Terrones also leads MNU starters in strikeouts with 79 and has pitched the most innings of any player in the rotation with 81 innings of work while holding opposing batters to a .217 average in 16 appearances.

Midway (KY)

The Midway Eagles are in as River States Conference Tournament Champion with a .500 overall record at 28-28 overall and will start the Lima Bracket as the fifth-seeded team in their first-ever season of baseball. Midway is led by Danny Maguire at the plate – Maguire is hitting .311 (50-for-161) entering the Opening Round. Hector Quinones is the Eagles' best power hitter with 12 doubles, 10 home runs, and 94 total bases with a slugging percentage of .514.

On the hill, Chase Heslep leads the Eagles' starting rotation with a 6-4 record and three complete games in 14 starts – Heslep has an ERA of 2.08, 63 strikeouts, and has held opposing batters to an average of .205 in just under 73 innings of work. During the regular season Midway averaged 4.13 runs per game and batted .254, while slugging .350. Thus far in their first-ever postseason, the Eagles average 8.6 runs per game hitting .320 while slugging .440.

Games will open play between MNU and MU on Monday, May 15 at 9 AM from Racers Field at the St. Rita's Sports Complex on the campus of UNOH. The second will feature MGA and HIU at 12:30 PM. UNOH claimed its first-ever top seed with the bye and will take on the winner of game one at 4 PM.

The times are scheduled to remain the same for Tuesday's games before switching to 11 AM and 3 PM on Wednesday. If necessary, the championship game will be played on Thursday at noon.

Links for live stats and video streaming with audio commentary can be found on www.UNOHRacers.com for all games.

All games are expected to be played at UNOH, but if games are postponed due to weather and needed to be played at night, the event will be moved to Montgomery Field in Celina, Ohio.

Admission per day will be $7 for adults and $5 for students. Tournament passes will also be available at the gate for $12 for adults and $10 for students.

More information on the Opening Round can be found on www.NAIA.org and www.UNOHRacers.com. The Lima Bracket web page can be found at this link. For details on the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series visit this link.

 
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