LEWISTON, Idaho-The ninth-seeded Rogers State baseball team will open the 56th Annual Avista-NAIA World Series at 2 p.m. on Friday against the No. 8-seed South Carolina Beaufort at Harris Field on the Campus of Lewis-Clark State.
The Hillcats (45-14) and the Sand Sharks (40-17) are each making their first appearances in the World Series. USCB was the last team to punch their ticket, winning five-straight loser's bracket contests en route to a title at the Hardeeville (S.C.) Bracket. The Diamond Cats took the opposite road to Lewiston, going 3-0 at the Hutchinson (Kan.) Bracket, including an exciting 5-4 extra-inning victory against top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist to reach the title game. This marks the first meeting between the Hillcats and the Sand Sharks.
The winner takes on top-seeded and top ranked LSU Shreveport at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. The loser falls into an elimination game against the loser of fourth-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan and fifth-seeded Embry-Riddle at 11 a.m. Saturday.
USCB has a team batting average of .301 with 21 home runs while the pitching staff holds a team ERA of 3.31. The Sand Sharks registered a second place regular season finish in the Sun Conference behind Embry- Riddle who is also competing at the World Series.
RSU enters the tournament with a team batting average of .307 with 37 home runs. The Hillcat hurlers own a 3.76 ERA as Shawn Spainhoward and Eric Faust each tied the RSU single-season wins record with nine apiece this season. The Cats registered their highest finish in the Sooner Athletic Conference standings as they came in third behind Oklahoma City University and OBU while compiling their second-straight 45-win seasons.
Five of last year's nine World Series qualifiers return to the field, including Lee who is making its sixth-consecutive trip to Harris Field. Behind the Flames are Embry-Riddle and Oklahoma City with five-straight appearances, while Point Park is snapping a 14-year drought and College of Idaho makes the trip for the first time since 2002.
Tournament host Lewis-Clark State owns the most wins all-time in the history of the event with a 119-38 record in 30 previous all-time appearances. The Warriors own an NAIA-record 16 titles. Oklahoma City is second amongst the qualifiers with 14 all-time trips, while Embry-Riddle and Point Park are tied for third with 11, respectively.
NeuLion, the NAIA's digital media partner and official video streaming company, will be broadcasting all games at the 2012 Avista-NAIA World Series. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-series pass is available for $39.95. For streaming information click here.
The Hillcat Network will provide a live audio stream of all the RSU baseball contests during the World Series at www.rsuhillcats.com/live.