San Diego Christian will represent the GSAC at the 58th Annual NAIA Baseball World Series. The 10-team, double elimination, hosted by Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho, runs from May 23 – 30.
Playing in its first-ever NAIA World Series, San Diego Christian (42-18) is the No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 Cumberland (44-19) from Tennessee in the nightcap at 7 p.m., the fourth game of the first day of competition. Cumberland's 19 losses are the most among the qualifiers. The Bulldogs are also the only qualifier not ranked within the top 10 in the final regular-season Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Cumberland closed the season ranked No. 23.
Eight of the nine teams that qualified through Opening Round play were No. 1 seeds in their respective brackets – Faulkner, Georgetown, Georgia Gwinnett, Oklahoma Baptist, Oklahoma Wesleyan, San Diego Christian, Southern Poly and Tabor. Cumberland – a No. 3 seed – won three-straight games, including two against top-seeded Missouri Baptist, to become the only non-No. 1 team to win an Opening Round crown.
When San Diego Christian's baseball team takes on Cumberland University Friday in the NAIA World Series, it will be the 24th time the Hawks have played a Top 25 opponent this season. Cumberland comes in ranked No. 23 in the polls and has posted a record of 14-2 in the last 16 games. Their 450 runs scored this season ranks seventh best in the NAIA and a team 3.33 ERA is good for 26th.
They are led by senior second baseman Sam Lind, who leads the team with 14 home runs and 79 RBI. Brady North is close behind knocking in 53 RBI and 11 homers and Ricky Coleman is second on the team with 56 RBI.
On the rubber, Jake Collier holds a robust 1.42 ERA and currently ranks eighth in the nation in that category. Collier, in 95.1 innings, is 8-3 with one save. Kevin P. Greene leads the team in wins with nine in 11 games started. Anthony Gomez, 2.69 ERA, is tops in strikeouts with 101 whiffs in 100 innings.
Located in Lebanon, Tenn., the Bulldogs play in the Mid-South Conference and finished 17-9, six games behind fellow World Series team Georgetown (KY). Cumberland defeated Georgetown in the Mid-South Conference tournament and came through the loser's side of the Kingsport Bracket in the NAIA Opening Round Tournament to earn the bid to the World Series. Winners of the 2010 NAIA World Series, this will mark the 12th time the Bulldogs have reached the tournament.
San Diego Christian, currently ranked No. 8 in the NAIA Top 25, swept their Opening Round opponents and are 7-2 in the last nine games. They rank ninth in homer runs (.733) per game and in fielding percentage (.969).
The Hawks will continue to look for their seniors to carry the team deep into the tournament.
Cade Gotta, GSAC Player of the Year, comes into the tournament hitting .407 on the season with 11 homers, 38 RBI, 73 runs, and 42 stolen bases. He ranks fourth in the nation in stolen bases and runs. Jeff Lusardi leads the team with 53 RBI and has chipped in with 10 homers and a .370 average. Chad Erickson's .349 average is good for third on the team, as he comes in second in RBIs with 51, two behind Lusardi.
Gabriel Hemmer leads the charge on the mound for the Hawk's pitching staff. His 13 wins are tops on the team and in the nation, with a 13-3 record. In 122 innings pitched, Hemmer has recorded 119 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA. He is also sixth in the NAIA in total batters struck out.
Mark Vasquez enters with a 9-3 record and a 3.39 ERA. Joey Aquino leads the team in ERA with 2.45 and holds a 6-2 mark. Saves leader Steven Bunnell spearheads the Hawk's bullpen with a 2.79 ERA. David Johnson has made 15 appearances this season, six out of the bullpen recording three saves and a 3.43 ERA.
Led by 18 seniors, San Diego Christian looks to record its first World Series win. With a win, the Hawks will move on in the winners bracket and face off against World Series host, Lewis-Clark State, on Saturday. With a loss, San Diego Christian will slide down to the loser's bracket and will face the loser of Game 3, which includes Georgia Gwinnett and Oklahoma Wesleyan on Saturday.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 17 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the first 15 games of the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series (May 23 – 27). 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 semifinals (May 28), championship final (May 29) and the "if necessary" game (May 30) will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
For more information, use the links below