LCU baseball wins first NAIA title since 1983 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/30/09

LCU baseball wins first NAIA title since 1983

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LEWISTON, Idaho (May 29, 2009) - There was no dominant pitching performance or one individual batter that stole the show in Friday night's Avista NAIA World Series Championship game. Just a bunch of solid contributors coming together as a team. Four pitchers took the mound and nine different batters received hits for No.1 Lubbock Christian University, as they defeated No.3 Point Loma Nazarene University 11-8 to become the first top-seeded team in NAIA World Series history (since they began seeding teams in 2003) to claim a NAIA Baseball National Title.  The Chaparrals, who claim the second baseball title in program history and the first since 1983, also became the fifth team in NAIA history to win the title after defeating the same team twice over the final two games.

It is ironic that the Chaps became the fifth team to win title by defeating the same team twice consecutively in the 53-year history of the event, because that is how LCU completed their 1983 title winning season.

After a pair of lower scoring pitching battles in the prior two games between the two teams, Friday night's game in front of 4,005 fans at Harris Field featured nothing but offense.  Teams combined for 19 runs on 30 hits, with 24 combined runners stranded (13 by the Chaps).

LCU jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first, running Point Loma starting pitcher Chris Honer out of the game with just one out in the first inning.  The big start was sparked by a bases loaded double from NAIA All-American Ross Blondin.  The Sea Lions responded though off Chaps starting pitcher R.L. Eisenbach, who won a JUCO National Title a season ago with Grayson County College.  After scoring a run in the second inning, the Sea Lions tied the game with four runs in the third inning, receiving a two-run home run by Travis McCleary.  They had five consecutive hits in the four-run third inning, forcing the Chaps to bring Charlie Aceto out of the bullpen.

Will Stramp, who ended up claiming NAIA World Series Most Valuable Player honor, got the Chaps back in front in the bottom of the third inning with a three-run home run off Brandon Dixon, who had shut down the Chaps Tuesday night.  Stramp's home run was his third of the NAIA World Series and his team-leading 27th of the season.

McCleary produced a double in the top of the fourth to drive in a run and the Sea Lions cut the LCU lead to 8-7, but again the Chaps responded in the bottom half of the inning.  A double by Rob Learned and a sacrifice fly by Jaime Armendariz followed a lead-off triple from Dan Neumann to match the Sea Lions scoring in the inning.

Aceto got two quick outs in the fifth inning, but then walked three straight batters to load the bases.  Head coach Nathan Blackwood went with Shane Karnbach to replace Aceto, and the senior right-handed pitcher struck out McCleary on three straight pitches to get out of the jam.  Karnbach helped slow down the game's offensive tempo.  He only surrendered one hit in 3 1/3 innings and did not allow an earned run.

The Sea Lions were held without a hit over the final 3 2/3 innings.  Jakob Cunningham sealed the victory in the ninth inning, as he came out for the save.  He struck out Kaohi Downing to close the game and his reward. the bottom of the dog pile as the Chaps emptied the dugout in jubilation.

Neumann and Learned each had three hits in the game and Stramp and Blondin each produced a trio of runs-batted-in.  Charlie Aceto (7-0) received the win on the mound, while Dixon was charged with the loss (10-4).

The Chaps close the season with a 52-8 record.  Going 5-1 at the Avista NAIA World Series, LCU is now 19-14 all-time in eight NAIA World Series appearances.  Along with Stramp, Chaps stars Cunningham, Dominguez, Rene Garcia and Tyler Johnson were each announced on the Avista NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team.

SPECIAL NOTE: The Chaps will arrive back to Lubbock Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. at Preston Smith Lubbock International Airport.  There is a campus celebration scheduled for noon Monday in front of the McDonald Moody Auditorium on the LCU campus.  Free food and drinks will follow a short program that will honor head coach Nathan Blackwood and the baseball team.

2009 AVISTA-NAIA Baseball All-Tournament Team

Pos.

Name

School

Year

Hometown

1B

Andrew Starr

Berry (Ga.)

Sr.

Panama City, Fla.

2B

Jake Barrow

Southern Polytechnic St.

Jr.

Kennesaw, Ga.

SS

Armando Dominguez

Lubbock Christian (Texas)

Sr.

Presido, Texas

3B

Wes Kartch

Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)

Jr.

Irvine, Calif. 

INF

Chris Waters

Lee (Tenn.)

Sr.

Los Angeles, Calif

C

Tyler Johnson

Lubbock Christian (Texas)

Jr.

Elkhart, Ind.

C

Tim Winslow

Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)

Jr.

Tucson, Ariz. 

OF

Sean Halton

Lewis-Clark State (Idaho

Sr.

Fresno, Calif.

OF

Will Stramp

Lubbock Christian (Texas)

Sr.

Keller, Texas

OF

Kurt Steinhauer

Point Loma Nazarene

Sr.

Rolling Hills, Calif. 

OF

Jason Machado

Oklahoma City

Sr.

Frisco, Calif.

DH

Junior Rodriguez

Lee (Tenn.)

Jr.

Coral Gables, Fla.

P

Brandon Dixon

Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)

Jr.

Tucson, Ariz. 

P

Rene Garcia

Lubbock Christian (Texas)

Jr.

Chino, Calif.

P

Andrew Bovich

Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)

Sr.

San Clemente, Calif.

P

Jakob Cunningham

Lubbock Christian (Texas)

Sr.

Lubbock, Texas

AVISTA-NAIA Most Valuable Player - Will Stramp, Lubbock Christian (Texas)

Charlie Hustle Award - Kurt Steinhauer, Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Gold Glove Award - Todd Muecklisch, Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho)
Hank Burbridge Champion of Character Player - Nathan Quesenberry, Campbellsville University (Tenn.)
Hank Burbridge Champions of Character Team - Lubbock Christian University (Texas)
Buffalo Funds-NAIA 5-Star Champions of Character Team Award - Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.)

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