KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Midland Game Notes) 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.
Midland University has been assigned the #4 seed in the Bartlesville, Oklahoma bracket. Host Oklahoma Wesleyan is the #1 seed at the site.
Midland will open play in the bracket against #5 Saint Ambrose University at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 15.
Complete Bartlesville Bracket:
#1 Oklahoma Wesleyan University (48-9, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Regular Season Champion)
#2 Indiana Tech (41-12, At-Large Bid)
#3 Bryan College (37-18, At-Large Bid)
#4 Midland University (40-18, Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Champion)
#5 Saint Ambrose University (28-23, Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion)
Bartlesville Bracket Schedule:
Monday, May 15
Game 1 – No. 4 Midland (Neb.) vs. No. 5 St. Ambrose (Iowa) @ 11 a.m.
Game 2 – No. 2 Indiana Tech vs. No. 3 Bryan (Tenn.) @ 3 p.m.
Game 3 – No. 1 Oklahoma Wesleyan vs. Game 1 Winner @ 6 p.m.
Oklahoma Wesleyan (ranked No. 3 nationally)
Players to Watch: The Eagles took home a slew of postseason awards including 12 players named to the All-KCAC Team. Christopher Acosta-Tapia was named the 2017 KCAC Player of the Year, Zach Johnson shared co-Pitcher of the Year honors and Matt Parker was named the KCAC Coach of the Year.
Acosta-Tapia, a junior, is batting .453 on the year with a video game-like .910 slugging percentage. He leads the team in doubles (24), homers (23) and runs scored (81).
The heart of the OWU batting order will be tough for any team in the Bartlesville Bracket to navigate. Following Acosta-Tapia, a trio of Eagle bats have nearly matched his production. Will Price has 22 longs balls and a team-high 88 RBI. Trevor Achenbach has 16 homers and 77 RBI. Those three sluggers are each batting over. 450. Alex Lugo comes in with a .390 batting average to go along with 17 round-trippers and 71 RBI.
Key Statistics: The Eagles can flat out hit. They lead the NAIA in runs per game (9.7), RBI/game (8.9) and total runs (554). Their team slugging percentage (.590) ranks third in the country. Equally as impressive is OKWU's team ERA (3.28) which ranks sixth nationally.
Johnson (10-0) has yet to suffer a loss this season and owns a 3.61 ERA with 80 strikeouts over 89.2 IP. Carlos Aldana (7-5) leads the team with a 2.81 ERA and has 76 punchouts over 73.2 IP. Each has made 14 starts this season.
Indiana Tech (ranked No. 18 nationally)
Players to Watch: A total of seven Warriors were named to the Wolverine-Hoosier All-Conference Team for Tech. Cody Kellar (10-4, 2.02 ERA) finished second in the conference in ERA and third in wins. Keith Tatum leads the WHAC with 24 doubles while batting .384 and slugging .616. Matt Bandor (.450/9HR/.738) and Glen McClain (.439/6HR/60RBI/.646) are a pair of dangerous bats in a top-to-bottom potent lineup.
Key Statistics: Tech is a well-balanced team on both sides of the ball. The Warriors own an eye-popping 113-19 advantage in runs scored in the first inning alone and have outscored opponents on the year, 480-211. Tech ranks third in the NAIA in hits per game (11.98) and fifth in team batting average (.357). The Warriors are also fifth in fielding percentage (.969) behind a solid pitching staff with a collective 3.71 ERA.
Bryan (receiving votes nationally)
Players to Watch: Justin Morhardt was named the 2017 ACC Player of the Year and Wade Weinburger was named the Conference Freshman of the Year. Morhardt led the Lions in batting average (.448) and doubles (19) while recording 10 homers and 46 RBI. Weinburger is hitting .359 while leading the team in runs (66), homers (17) and stolen bases (14).
Key Statistics: Offensive is the name of the game for the Lions. Bryan ranks fourth in the NAIA in home runs per game (1.5) and fifth in slugging (.563). Five Lions enter the tournament with double-digit home run totals while five have slugging percentages over .650. Trevor Behrent leads the team with 63 RBI.
Bryan owns a collective 5.18 team ERA and has surrendered 49 homers as a staff. Batters are hitting .278 against Lion pitchers with 123 extra-base hits.
Midland (receiving votes nationally)
Players to Watch: Co-GPAC Player of the Year Cole Gray is four hits shy of tying the program single-season record of 84 hits. He is batting a career-best .415 which led the GPAC this season. DH Conlon McKenzie is hitting .400 (30-for-75) with eight doubles, six homers and 26 RBI in 24 games since April 4th.
Torrey Escamilla (12-0) and Kiefer Musiel (9-1) have been the Warriors' dominant 1-2 punch on the mound this season. Musiel has struck out at least seven batters in eight of his 13 starts. Escamilla has surrendered just two homers this season, and will be tested in the tough Bartlesville Bracket.
Key Statistics: The Warriors led the GPAC this year in team batting average (.328) and ERA (3.74). However, Midland was in the back of the pack in fielding percentage (.952). The Warriors' 88 errors were third-worst in the conference which led to 51 unearned runs on the season.
Get ahead. Stay ahead. That's been the winning formula for MU this season. The Warriors are 27-6 when scoring first this season and 32-1 when leading after five innings. Conversely, Midland is just 3-15 when trailing after five innings. McKenzie and Alex Bee have solidified the back end of the bullpen to safe guard those leads and have a combined 1.70 ERA with 13 saves.
Players to Watch: Kevin Zanger was the lone Bee named to the CCAC All-Conference First Team, while Cooper Sant Amour was named to the Second Team. Mike Miller leads the team with a .420 batting average and six homers. Midland will likely face either Jake Sheley (8-7) or Jake McCabe (7-4) in Monday's opening game. Both hurlers for the Bees have ERA's close to 5.00 and have combined to allow batters to hit north of .300.
Key Statistics: St. Ambrose is being outscored by opponents this season, 293-257, but enters the tournament riding a 14-game winning streak in which the Bees have outscored their opponents, 113-49. Of those 293 runs surrendered this season, 136 have come over the first three innings of the ballgame. Midland has scored 150 runs over its first three innings of games this season, and will look to jump on St. Ambrose early. The Warriors have scored in those frames in each of their last eight games.
St. Ambrose and Midland have yet to matchup during head coach Chad Miller's Warrior tenure, but the two skippers are very familiar with one another from Miller's days at Viterbo University.
Complete Midland University Opening Round Game Notes: Click here.
Bartlesville Bracket Tournament Page: Click here.
Livestream: Single-game viewing access is availble for $7.95 and all-tournament passes are available for $19.95. Click here.
Live Stats: Click here.
Midland has reached the 40-win plateau for the third time in the past four years and will be appearing the NAIA Opening Round for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
The Warriors are 2-6 all-time in the NAIA Opening Round (1-2 last year).
For more information on the 2017 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round and the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, click here.