OKLAHOMA CITY - Lubbock Christian and Oklahoma City University will compete for a spot in the NAIA World Series starting Thursday at Jim Wade Stadium in the NAIA Championship Opening Round Oklahoma City Bracket.
Third-ranked OCU, No. 19 Lubbock Christian, Mount Marty (S.D.), Sterling (Kan.) and York (Neb.) make up the teams in the double-elimination baseball tournament. The championship is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday with an if-necessary game scheduled noon Monday, May 14.
The top-seeded Stars (43-9) will be led by Sooner Athletic Conference player of the year Miguel Beltran as well as first-team all-SAC catcher Chad Carman, left-handed pitcher Rich Hawkins, shortstop Chris Muņoz and outfielder Dane Phillips. OCU, the SAC regular-season champion, takes aim at its fifth consecutive World Series berth.
Beltran, a senior from Long Beach, Calif., leads college baseball with 24 home runs. OCU ranks No. 1 in the NAIA with 2.60 doubles and 1.56 home runs per game as well as a .611 slugging percentage. The Stars rank second in doubles (135), third in batting average (.358) and fifth in earned run average (2.89) and hits (11.40) and RBIs (7.66) per game. The Stars play 6 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Mount Marty-York contest.
No. 2 seed Lubbock Christian enter the tournament fresh off a runner-up finish in the SAC Tournament. The Chaparrals feature first-team all-SAC second baseman Richard Bohlken, right-handed pitcher Tyler Rogers and designated hitter Karl Seiter. Lubbock Christian (33-20) faces Sterling at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Third seed Sterling took the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship to gain its first Opening-Round berth ever. Joe Williams leads Sterling (43-12) with a .419 batting average and 32 stolen bases, while Daniel Cloteaux sparks the Warriors pitching staff with 11 wins, a 2.53 earned run average and 51 strikeouts.
Fourth seed York captured the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship. York (39-17) boasts of the league newcomer of the year Joe Garcia. Mount Marty and York square off at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Fifth-seeded Mount Marty (26-26) won the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament title. Derrik Nelson has produced team highs with a .416 batting average and eight steals.
The nine opening-round tournament winners and host Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) will comprise the field for the NAIA World Series on May 25-June 1 in Lewiston, Idaho.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under per session. Tournament games will be available via live video at a rate of $7.95 per game or in a tournament package for $24.95.
At Jim Wade Stadium
Game 1: Mount Marty (S.D.) vs. York (Neb.), 11 a.m.
Game 2: Lubbock Christian vs. Sterling (Kan.), 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Oklahoma City, 6 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 11 a.m.
Game 5: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 2:30 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 6 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 5, 11 a.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 7, 2:30 p.m., championship
Monday, May 14
Game 9: If necessary, noon