Santa Clarita Bracket Preview
May 8, 2013
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- The Master's College Sports Information staff provides a preview of the five teams competing in the Santa Clarita Bracket portion of the 2013 Baseball National Championship Opening Round tournament.
#1 Seed: The Master’s College (40-15, 24-11 GSAC):
The Master’s College returns to the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round for the first time since 2009 after winning both the GSAC regular-season and conference tournament championships. The Mustangs went 25-11 in conference play on the way to a school-record 40 wins.
Highlighting the Mustangs’ efforts are a pair of All-GSAC performers, sophomore leftfielder Steven Karkenny and senior pitcher A.J. Work. Karkenny led the GSAC with 52 rbi and 21 doubles, and paced the club with a .366 batting average to go along with nine home runs, 44 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases. Work, the winningest hurler in program history (29 wins) led the conference with a 2.67 ERA and 10 wins, while striking out 65 batters.
The Mustangs are led by head coach Monte Brooks. Brooks earned the GSAC’s coach of the year award on April 30th and coached TMC to their first GSAC championship since 2003.
#2 Seed: Cal State San Marcos (35-10, 9-1 A.I.I.):
The Cal State San Marcos baseball team has put together one of the best seasons in program history. The Cougars have won a school-record 35 games this season and recently captured their second Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) title in the last three years with a 3-2 win over LSU Alexandria last Friday. CSUSM started the year 9-0, highlighted by a three-game sweep of No. 11 Concordia and eventually won 20 of its first 22. It earned the program's highest ranking ever when it came in as No. 3 in the NAIA Coaches Poll on March 26th.
CSUSM was ranked in the Top 25 every week of the regular season. The Cougars had six players named first-team all-conference and skipper Dennis Pugh won A.I.I. Coach of the Year for the first time in his seven-year tenure. They recorded five series’ sweeps of three games or more and went 13-8 against teams from the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). The Cougars will be making their third appearance in the NAIA Tournament and first since 2011.
#3 Seed: San Diego Christian (37-18, 20-16 GSAC):
San Diego Christian has put together its best season in program history, compiling a 37-18 overall record, including a 20-16, third-place finish in the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Hawks qualified for postseason play for the first time, falling to The Master’s College in the GSAC Tournament championship game. SDCC shattered the previous record for wins (22) in a season set in the program’s inaugural 2007 campaign.
The Hawks have done it with excellent defense and superb hitting, ranking third in the NAIA in fielding percentage with a .972 mark while co-leading the GSAC with a .300 batting average. In addition, SDCC clubbed 32 home runs, the second-best mark in the conference and the Hawks’ pitching staff has posted a 3.68 ERA, finishing with 334 strikeouts. SDCC has had a knack for winning the close game this season, posting an 11-3 record in one-run games.
#4 Seed: Tabor College (Kan.) (38-14, 24-4 KCAC):
The 2013 Tabor College baseball team capped off another exceptional year with its second consecutive conference title as well as a second straight NAIA national tournament appearance. The Bluejays, who finished as co-champions of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, compiled a conference record of 24-4 and an overall record of 38-14. In the KCAC tournament Tabor advanced to the title game before falling to Sterling College. The Bluejays boast one of the best pitching staffs in the country, ranking 11th in the nation in opponents’ batting average at .234 and 20th in ERA at 3.29.
The Bluejays’ roster includes 12 all-conference members, including KCAC Pitcher of the Year Josh Stone, who finished this past season with an 8-2 record and a 2.26 ERA. Tabor is led at the plate by junior Grant Silva who is batting a team-high .384 with 28 RBIs and 51 runs scored. Silva also is the nation’s best in stolen bases swiping 56 on the year while only being thrown out seven times. Fellow junior Kevin Seeger leads Tabor in rbi with 53 while last year’s KCAC Player of the Year senior Art Corona is tied with Silva for runs scored with a team-high 51.
#5 Seed: Concordia (28-26, 14-14 CCC):
The Cavaliers scored a run on a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th to beat Menlo College, 4-3, in the finale of the NAIA West Tournament, and claim just its third regional title in program history. The Cavs had not won a regional crown since 2004, which is also the last time the Cavs played in the NAIA National Championships, making it all the way to NAIA World Series. The win in the final game of the NAIA West Tournament also gave CU head coach Rob Vance 300 career wins at Concordia, making him just the second Concordia head coach to reach that milestone.
The Cavaliers’ deep pitching helped lead the Cavs to the NAIA West Tournament title, as it has led the Cavs all season. The Cavs’ pitching staff was completely remodeled during the offseason, as seven of the top eight pitchers in both ERA and innings pitched are newcomers. One of the Cavs’ new pitchers, Alex Bos, earned Gold Glove honors from the NAIA West after the conference tournament. Center fielder Blake Drake and catcher Ben Talbot also earned Gold Glove honors from the NAIA West, while Drake was selected to the All-NAIA West first team. Drake earned his all-conference selection after leading the Cavs in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, runs scored, doubles, triples and stolen bases. Talbot, meanwhile, earned his Gold Glove award after leading the NAIA West in both throws outs on steal attempts and pickoffs. Talbot had 12 pickoffs this season, twice as many as any other player in the NAIA West.