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CLAREMORE, Okla. (May 6, 2013) - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the seeds and site selections for the 2013 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round, which involves nine five-team pools played at nine different locations across the country. No.4 Lubbock Christian University was placed as the top seed in the Claremore Bracket hosted by Rogers State University in Claremore, Okla. The Chaparrals open their play at 6 p.m. Thursday facing the winner of the game between Rogers State and Midland University (Neb.).
Each of the nine locations will feature a five-team double-elimination tournament May 9-13. Opening Round champions will join host Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at the 57th annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho, May 24-31.
Lubbock Christian University enters the bracket as the top seed and will join Bellevue University (Neb.), Lyon College (Ark.), Midland University (Neb.) and host/conference foe Rogers State University. Twenty-nine teams earned automatic berths to the Opening Round field by placing first or second at their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments or by winning a regular-season championship. An additional 16 at-large selections – determined by the final NAIA Baseball Coaches' Top 25 Poll released May 5 – round out the field.
LCU receiving an automatic bid after winning the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament. The Chaps are ranked No. 4 in the NAIA with a 42-15 record overall. They continue to lead the NAIA in seven statistical categories and are ranked in the top-15 in 15 different statistics. Christian Vazquez leads the LCU offense with 88 hits, which ranks him second in the NAIA. Joel Lutz's 61 runs-batted-in has him ranked fourth in the NAIA and he also has 15 home runs this season. On the mound, Kyle Forsyth holds a 3.03 ERA and Derek Loera has 83 total strike outs. LCU has a .342 team batting average (second in the NAIA) and they have a staff ERA of 4.25.
No. 2 seed Bellevue University received an at-large berth into the opening round of the NAIA National Championship with a regular season 44-8-1 overall record winning the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season title after finishing with a 21-3 mark in conference. This trip to the opening rounds marks the third-consecutive appearance and they have a 3-6 all-time record in the event. The Bruins are ranked in the top-10 in four statistical categories in the NAIA, including ERA (2.45), batters struck out (433), opposing batting average (.215) and fielding percentage (.969). Nate Mullins leads the team with 64 hits and 50 runs-batted-in this season. Pitchers Kody McFarland has a 2.01 ERA and Ricky Holm has 94 strike outs on the year. They are 1-1 against SAC teams this season, splitting a pair of games against Oklahoma City University.
Lyon College (Ark.) will represent the No. 3 seed in the five team bracket. The Scots received the at-Large No. 11 bid, as they are making their first trip to the Opening Round with a 41-14 overall record this season. Lyon's Colby Rogers ranks third in the NAIA with 24 doubles and has 68 hits. He also has 50 RBI this season. Pitcher Ben Neyen has a 2.33 ERA and a total of 67 strike outs. He is also ranked 19th in the NAIA with nine wins. The Scots are hitting .313 as a team and they have a 4.04 ERA.
Rogers State University enters the tournament as the No. 4 seeded team and one of nine host sites of the NAIA Opening Round (Diamond Sports Complex on RSU's Claremore Campus). Colton Campbell is ranked 11th in the NAIA with a .418 batting average and has 71 hits this season with 49 RBI. Pitchers Shawn Spainhoward's 1.73 ERA ranks him 21st in the NAIA and teammate Brandon Bargas has 75 total strikeouts. RSU is hitting .299 as a squad and their pitching staff has a 3.66 ERA. RSU is making their third straight Opening Round appearance and they are 3-2 overall in Opening Round competitions. They won their bracket last season and advanced to the NAIA World Series, where they finished runner-up.
Midland earned a No. 5 seed to the Opening Round as the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Runner-Up. With a 31-24 overall record, it is the Warriors first trip to the tournament. Offensively, Vinnie Orsi leads his team with 64 hits, 39 RBI and 27 stolen bases. Dylan Stockton is ranked 13th in the NAIA with 12 total earned runs allowed and 16th with a 1.63 ERA. Midland holds a 3.95 ERA and they are hitting .262 on the season.
Ten programs within the field are making their first-ever appearance at the Opening Round, while seven squads have appeared in every event since the format began in 2009. Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Lee (Tenn.) and Oklahoma City highlight the group with four Opening Round championships, while Lubbock Christian and Tennessee Wesleyan own three each.
The NAIA's "Opening Round" format began in 2009 and LCU has made an appearance in each season of its existence. The format was to do away from the prior regionalized format, but the regionalized pattern has continued with the event, as LCU, who hosted the event in each of the first three seasons of existence, has been assigned to a bracket hosted by a Sooner Athletic Conference school. Last season, LCU travelled to Oklahoma City. LCU is 11-4 all-time in Opening Round play.
The Chaps first game in the tournament is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. They will play the winner of the contest between Rogers State and Midland, which opens the tournament at 11 a.m. All games at the Claremore Bracket can be viewed online at a rate of $9.95 per game or $24.95 for an all-tournament pass through www.rsuhillcats.com/openinground and/or www.rsuhillcats.com/live. Audio broadcasts will be carried through www.lcuchaps.com and simulcasted on KJAK 92.7 FM free of charge.