LEWISTON, Idaho – (Schedule | Bracket | Press Book) No. 8 Southern Poly (Ga.) and No. 9 Tabor (Kan.) open action at the 58th annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series Friday at 9 a.m. PDT at Harris Field. The 10-team, double elimination, hosted by Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), runs from May 23 – 30.
After the conclusion of Southern Poly and Tabor, No. 4 seeded Faulkner (Ala.) and No. 5 Georgetown (Ky.) do battle at 12 p.m., followed by No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan and No. 6 Georgia Gwinnett at 3 p.m. No. 7 San Diego Christian (Calif.) and No. 10 Cumberland (Tenn.) play in the nightcap at 7 p.m.
No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist and No. 2 Lewis-Clark State open action on Saturday. The Bison play the winner of Southern Poly and Tabor at 3 p.m., while the Warriors face off against the winner of San Diego Christian and Cumberland at 6:30 p.m.
Two of last year’s 10 World Series qualifiers return to the field, highlighted by defending national champion Faulkner. The Southern States Athletic Conference regular-season champion Eagles went 3-0, including an 11-1 victory over LSU Shreveport (La.) in the banner game, en route to a second-straight Montgomery Bracket Opening Round title. Faulkner was dominant in all three games, outscoring its opponent by a combined score of 23-2.
Georgetown snaps the longest drought among the qualifiers that have made at least one trip to the World Series. The Tigers last appearance came in 1988.
For the second-straight year, four teams punched their first-ever ticket to Lewiston with an Opening Round championship. Newcomers include: Georgia Gwinnett (Lawrenceville Bracket Champion), Oklahoma Wesleyan (Jackson Bracket Champion), San Diego Christian (Santa Clarita Bracket Champion) and Tabor (Kan.) (Hutchinson Bracket Champion).
Oklahoma Wesleyan, which claimed the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships this season, enters the World Series with a program record and NAIA-best 55 wins. The Eagles come to Lewiston riding a NAIA-leading 28-game winning streak. Oklahoma Wesleyan’s last loss came on March 28 against Bellevue (Neb.), 9-3. The Eagles six losses are also the least among the qualifiers.
Two other 50-win teams make the trip to Harris Field this season – Georgia Gwinnett (52) and Oklahoma Baptist (53) – while two squads are one win away from the plateau – Faulkner (49) and Tabor (49).
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.
The Southern States Athletic Conference – Faulkner and Southern Poly – and the Mid-South Conference – Cumberland and Georgetown – are the only leagues with more than one team playing in the World Series.
Host Lewis-Clark State owns the World Series record for appearances, playing in its 33rd overall event and 15th-straight. The Warriors have won the title a record 16 times – last coming in 2008 – and boast a mark of 124-41. Lewis-Clark State finished runner-up last season.
Cumberland (2) and Faulkner (1) are the only other World Series teams to have previously won the banner.
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 on the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, click here.