NAIA Field Set For Idaho

The stage is set for the 2007 Avista NAIA Baseball World Series, which begins Friday in Lewiston, Idaho. The double-elimination tournament runs from Friday until June 1, and features the seven super-regional champions and three at-large teams.

Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College, headlines the tournament and will begin its quest for a 15th NAIA national championship Friday night against the tournament’s No. 6 seed Lee (Tenn.). Lewis-Clark State defeated Azusa Pacific (Calif.) in the West super-regional behind the hot bat of third baseman Beau Mills and held off a late Cougar rally to take the third game in the best-of-three series, 15-11. Mills, a likely first-round pick next month, is hitting an absurd .459/.553/1.000 with a school-record 33 homers and 113 RBIs.

Even though Azusa Pacific lost the series, the Cougars claimed the first at-large bid, and are still the No. 1 seed in the World Series. Azusa Pacific will face the winner of Friday’s game between No. 8 Lindenwood (Mo.) and No. 9 Houston Baptist, a rematch of the Mid-South super-regional that Lindenwood took two-to-one. Lindenwood won the series after senior lefthander Nate Eisenbeis pitched a complete game last Friday to secure a 2-0 win for the Lions and a trip to Idaho.

No. 7 seed St. Thomas (Fla.) squares off against No. 10 seed Walsh (Ohio) on Friday in the first game of the Series. St. Thomas, the second at-large team, will look to bounce back from a pair losses to Lee in the Atlantic South super-regional where on both occasions the Bobcats gave up 18 runs. Walsh continued its Cinderella run, sweeping Fisher (Mass.) College in the East Coast super-regional, 4-1 and 4-3.

The other game on Friday pits No. 4 Cumberland (Tenn.) against No. 5 Bellevue (Neb.). Both teams enter the World Series hot, having swept their super-regionals. Cumberland took down Union (Ky.) College, 6-4 and 7-0, to claim the South Central super-regional while Bellevue claimed the Plains super-regional by knocking out Northwestern (Iowa) College 6-1 and 3-2.

Spring Arbor (Mich.) rounds out the tournament as the No. 2 seed, and will face the winner of St. Thomas-Walsh on Saturday. Spring Arbor swept St. Ambrose (Iowa), 11-3 and 6-1, to win the Heartland super-regional behind the strong pitching of sophomore Jesse Bachman. Along with Lewis-Clark State and Azusa Pacific, Spring Arbor figures to be one of the favorites to claim the 51st NAIA championship.