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Baseball - Tue, May 23, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
The Royals celebrate seconds after punching their ticket to Lewiston
The Royals celebrate seconds after punching their ticket to Lewiston

KANSAS CITY, MO – (Bracket – PDF Schedule) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced the seeds and bracket for the 2017 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, hosted by Lewis-Clark State (Idaho). The 61st annual event takes place May 26 – June 2 at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho.

The World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination tournament with the winner being crowned either June 1 or June 2 depending on if the eventual national champion drops one of its earlier round games. Three conferences (Southern States, Golden State, and Sooner) have two representatives in the 2017 World Series field.

Keiser, William Carey, and Oklahoma Wesleyan were the only teams to advance by winning the if-necessary championship game – the other six OR champions all did so with perfect records. The Master's appearance in Lewiston this year marks only the fourth time that a team seeded lower than No. 3 in an Opening Round bracket has made the Series.

Seeds 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.

Game one pits No. 7 Science & Arts (Okla.) against No. 10 The Master's (Calif.) on May 26 at 8:30 a.m. PDT. The winner of that contest advances to play No. 2 Faulkner (Ala.) at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 27.

No. 6 Missouri Baptist battles No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan at 11:30 a.m. in the second game of day one, while No. 8 Hope International (Calif.) and No. 9 William Carey (Miss.) square off in game three. The victor between Hope International and William Carey will face No. 1 Oklahoma City at 6:30 p.m. on day two.

The day-one nightcap features No. 4 Keiser (Fla.) and No. 5 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) following the event's opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. Check out our quick rundown on each of the qualifying teams below by order of seeding in the 2017 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.

NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA's official video-streaming platform of NAIA national championship events powered by Stretch Internet, will be broadcasting all 19 games of the 2017 NAIA Baseball World Series. The All-World Series package can be purchased for $29.95 or the day package for $9.95. Game 16 – 19 will also be delivered on ESPN3.

For more information on the 2017 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, click HERE.

For more information on the 2017 NAIA Baseball National Championship, click here. You can also follow the action on the NAIA's Twitter (@NAIA), Facebook (PlayNAIA) and Instagram (playnaia) using #NAIABaseball.

No. 1 Seed – Oklahoma City Stars (48-8, 18-3 SAC)

The OKC Stars punched their ticket to the World Series by winning its Opening Round bracket, making their 15th appearance at the World Series in the process. OKC is led at the plate by Jared Baker who is hitting .405 with 85 hits and 83 RBI this season – Baker is fourth in the NAIA in total RBI and fifth in total bases. Additionally, Baker is 12th in the nation in SLG% at .790 and has 19 home runs.

On the mound Matt Young leads the Stars with a 2.87 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 87.2 innings of work and has a record of 9-2 this season. Tyler Milligan leads the OKC staff with six saves in 15 appearances and also has a 1-1 record. The Stars have three pitchers that have thrown more than 72 innings this season and those three starters have combined for a 28-5 record in 41 starts for a nasty 1-2-3 rotation.

No. 2 Seed – Faulkner Eagles (AL) (50-10, 18-6 SSAC)

Faulkner makes its way to the World Series for the fifth consecutive season after winning the Montgomery bracket that they hosted. Reid Long leads the team with a .361 average and 74 hits, while TJ Condon tops the club with 68 RBI and the fifth-most home runs in the NAIA with 21 – Condon also sports a SLG% of .705 and 15 doubles. Tra'mayne Holmes has stolen an NAIA-best 57 bases this season for the Eagles and averages almost one per game.

Israel Fuentes leads the Eagles' starting rotation with a 2.63 ERA and 11 wins in 78.2 innings of work, while Ivan Pelaez is front for Faulkner with 96 strikeouts this season. Between the top three starters of Fuentes, Pelaez, and Tyler Tungate, Falkner's rotation has put together 30 wins against only three losses in 239.1 innings between the starters.

No. 3 Seed – Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles (51-10, 20-6 KCAC)

The Eagles make their 2nd World Series appearance after fighting off a heavy-hitting Indiana Tech team in the if-necessary championship game at the Bartlesville bracket – the hosting Eagles lost their first shot at the World Series but clinched in their second try on the following day. OKW is led at the plate by Trevor Achenbach with a .473 average – Achenbach leads the entire NAIA in hits per game, total bases per game, total hits, and runs scored per game. Will Price leads the team and the NAIA in home runs (27), RBI (100), and SLG% (.918).

The Eagles' staff is led by Carlos Aldana with a 3.30 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 79 innings of work, good enough for a 705 record in 16 appearances. OKW also has one of the NAIA's most accomplished closers on staff in Tyler Shumpert who leads the NAIA with 14 saves. Landon Williams helps link the two with 45 innings of work this season, a 1.80 ERA, and a 6-0 record in 26 appearances as a reliever.

No. 4 Seed – Keiser Seahawks (FL) (42-19, 19-5 TSC)

Keiser makes its first-ever World Series appearance after winning the Kingsport bracket hosted by the Kingsport CVB and the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Brad Myott leads the team with a .342 average at the plate and has brought in 46 runners to lead his team in RBI as well – Myott pairs with Keivan Berges to do much of the Seahawks' damage offensively, as Berges leads with 17 doubles and 12 homers.

Daniel Garmendia leads the Seahawks' staff with an ERA of 2.21 in 102 innings of work and has held opponents to a .192 average and just over six hits per game, both of which are among the top 10 in all the NAIA. Berges tops the staff with 64 strikeouts and has only walked 14 batters this season.

No. 5 Seed – Lewis-Clark State Warriors (ID) (35-13, 22-8 NAIA West)

LCSC is in by virtue of hosting the World Series and will play as the defending champs for the second straight season – LCSC enters the 2017 Series looking for a possible three-peat as National Champions. JJ Robinson leads the Warriors at the plate with a .335 average and 60 RBI in addition to 19 home runs and a SLG% of .733. The Warriors have seven players that hit .300 or better this season in a meaningful amount of at-bats.

Conner Brogdon and Matt Fish make up a nasty one-two punch for the Warriors' starting rotation this season. Brogdon tops the team in strikeouts with 81 and boasts a 2.42 ERA in 12 appearances and 63.1 total innings, while Fish tops the team with a 2.34 ERA and has allowed only 19 total runs – 16 earned – all year in 61.2 innings of work and 10 starts.

No. 6 Seed – Missouri Baptist Spartans (44-14, 24-6 AMC)

The Spartans punch their second-ever ticket to the NAIA World Series after winning the Hutchinson bracket hosted by Tabor (KS). The Spartans swept their bracket as the second seed to advance. MBU is led by Culver Plant at the plate with a .362 batting average and Drew Kitson tops the team with 61 RBI. Culver, Kitson, Aaron Collazo, and John Hagan have all hit 14 or more doubles this season, and Kitson leads MBU with 11 home runs.

The Spartan rotation is led by Patrick Boyle with a 3.79 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 15 starts and 76 innings this season – behind Boyle is the NAIA's second-most accomplished closer this year in Nick Vichio, who boasts 13 saves in 27 appearances and 31.1 innings of work.

No. 7 Seed – Science and Arts Drovers (OK) (44-15, 17-7 SAC)

The Drovers are making a return trip to Lewiston after qualifying for the World Series in the previous season in 2016. USAO is one of four teams along with The Master's, LCSC, and Faulkner, to return to the field in at least back-to-back years [with Faulkner making five straight trips]. The Drovers swept through the Bellevue Bracket, including a win over the host Bruins on the final day to finish 3-0 in the opening round. Christian Perez leads USAO hitting .434 with 85 hits and has scored 72 times this season, while Dillon White has brought home 80 runners for USAO with the fifth-most RBI in the NAIA this year. USAO has six players on the roster that have hit 16 or more doubles this year.

Francis Ventura leads the Drovers' staff with a 1.64 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 76.2 Innings of work. Ventura has held opposing batters to a .189 average (sixth-best in the NAIA) in his 11 starts and owns a 10-1 record – statistically, Ventura is one of the top pitchers in the field.

No. 8 Seed – Hope International Royals (CA) (35-16, 20-10 GSAC)

Your Royals make their first-ever World Series appearance in only their second season after a perfect 3-0 showing at the Lima Bracket hosted by No. 7 University of Northwestern Ohio. Cameron Baranek continues to lead the team in almost every offensive category and enters the Series hitting .356 with 42 walks, 37 RBI, 13 home runs, 12 doubles, and three triples. Sean David Clark leads the club with 41 RBI.

The Royals' staff is led by its two most consistent starters, George Castillo and Dominic Potlongo. Castillo has an 8-3 record, a 4.27 ERA, and a team-high 76 strikeouts in 86.1 innings, while Potlongo owns a 4.19 ERA and a 7-4 record in 77.1 innings to go with 52 fanned batters. The Royals have closed games by committee this season, but Chris Dixon leads the bullpen with five saves. Justin Moulds has the lowest ERA out of the pen for HIU at 2.08 in 26 innings and 19 appearances.

No. 9 Seed – William Carey Crusaders (MS) (42-18, 17-7 SSAC)

William Carey is in the field after winning its bracket in Hattiesburg, MS, in dramatic fashion with a walkoff victory in the championship game. James Land leads the club hitting .391 entering the Series and is one of the top base runners in the NAIA with 45 stolen bags (third-most in the NAIA) – Land also leads his team with 19 home runs and has produced 38 extra-base hits this season.

Conner McWilliams has only allowed 29 runs – 26 earned – this season for the Crusaders and has the best ERA of any starting WC pitcher at 3.11 in 14 appearances and 66.2 innings of work. Cole Edgens is the workhorse for the staff with 92.1 innings of work this year in 17 appearances and has a 3.61 ERA and 75 strikeouts to show for his effort.

No. 10 Seed – The Master's Mustangs (39-21, 17-13 GSAC)

The Master's Mustangs join HIU from the GSAC in this year's World Series and are making their second consecutive appearance in Lewiston, ID. Jonah Jarrard leads the Mustangs with a .413 batting average and 16 doubles, while David Sheaffer tops the Mustangs' outfit with 59 RBI. Michael Sexton has a team-high 16 home runs this season.

Aaron Alexander has the best ERA on the Mustangs' staff at 2.84 with only 36 earned runs allowed this season in 114 innings of work while Scott Savage is the staff's best con artist with 66 strikeouts in 63.1 innings of work. Robert Winslow and Jason Karkenny round out the starting four for TMU with ERAs of 2.92 and 4.28, respectively.

 
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