Eagles Set For Bulldogs in Opening Round
HARDEEVILLE, S.C. – After an 0-17 start Asbury baseball will open the NAIA Baseball National Tournament Opening Round against Union (Tenn.) on Thursday at 10 am. The University of South Carolina Beaufort is hosting one of nine Opening Round sites across the country, each will send one team to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
There will be several ways to follow the Eagles during play in Hardeeville: First you can follow the live updates on Twitter during each game here. USCB will provide live video/audio and stats during all games of the tournament. The video/audiofeed can be accessed here, and does carry a charge of $5 per game or $25 for the tournament. Live stats can also be viewed along with the video on that link or can be found here. We are told the video is a single stationary camera located in the press box behind home plate.
Complete coverage of the Eagles can always be found here, at the home of Asbury Athletics.
The Eagles (18-37) are the only team to enter the tournament that had to win two different tournaments to qualify. First they took three straight in the KIAC Tournament to earn a bid to the Unaffiliated Group Tournament, ironically enough it was the first three-game winning streak of the season .
After taking the KIAC Title for the first time in school history the team set off for Kinston, N.C. and a six-team tournament featuring the 10th-ranked Pioneers of Point Park. The Eagles shocked the Pioneers in game one of the tournament and went on to beat them again in the championship game.
During their postseason run, team record of 7-1, the Eagles have hit .346 as a team, nearly 70 points higher than their total season average. Seven of the top nine hitters are hitting over .340 in the postseason and have combined for 19 doubles. The Eagles are scoring 7 runs per game in the postseason compared to only 3.7 during the regular season. Casey Messner and Tyler Wooden each hit .478 in Kinston, as Tyler Wooden hit .476 with a team-high 6 RBI in that tournament. In the entire postseason Messner and Wooden lead the team with .429 and .426 averages.
It hasn’t been just the offense that has come to life in the postseason, as the pitching staff has posted a 3.55 ERA compared to a 7.88 ERA in the regular season. Logan Howard leads the postseason effort with a 1.12 ERA and Isaiah Bell joins Howard with two wins each. Bell was the star in Kinston, shutting down Point Park twice within four days. The junior threw 16 innings in four days and held the Pioneers to a .182 batting average. The starters pitched 35.1 out of 47 innings in Kinston and have thrown 76% of the innings in the postseason. Opponents are hitting only .246 against the staff in the postseason compared to a .321 mark during the regular season.
Union qualified by defeating Blue Mountain (Miss.) in the TranSouth Conference Tournament Championship Game 2-1. The Bulldogs finished second in the regular season with a 14-8-1 record. They are led by starting pitcher Will Irvin who posts an 8-2 record in 11 starts. The 6-1 senior has thrown a team-high 84.2 innings allowing 79 hits, 17 walks and 52 strikeouts. The Bulldogs’ top hitter Brett Pawlan, who bats third and plays right field. The 5-9 senior enters the tournament batting .397 with 12 doubles, 8 triples, 3 homeruns and 47 RBI. Catcher Doug Joyce leads the team with 7 homeruns and 51 RBI.
The winner of the Union-Asbury game will play top seed in the tournament, Faulkner University from Montgomery, Ala. at 6 pm on Thursday. The loser will play the loser of two seed St. Thomas (Fla.) and USCB at 10 am on Friday in the first elimination game.