SANTEE, Calif. – When San Diego Christian's baseball team takes on Cumberland University Friday in the NAIA World Series, it will be the 24th time the Hawks have played a Top 25 opponent this season.
But none will be tougher than the Bulldogs come May 23.
Cumberland comes in ranked No. 23 in the polls and has posted a record of 14-2 in the last 16 games. Their 450 runs scored this season ranks seventh best in the NAIA and a team 3.33 ERA is good for 26th.
They are led by senior second baseman Sam Lind, who leads the team with 14 home runs and 79 RBI. Brady North is close behind knocking in 53 RBI and 11 homers and Ricky Coleman is second on the team with 56 RBI.
On the rubber, Jake Collier holds a robust 1.42 ERA and currently ranks eighth in the nation in that category. Collier, in 95.1 innings, is 8-3 with one save. Kevin P. Greene leads the team in wins with nine in 11 games started. Anthony Gomez, 2.69 ERA, is tops in strikeouts with 101 whiffs in 100 innings.
Located in Lebanon, Tenn., the Bulldogs play in the Mid-South Conference and finished 17-9, six games behind fellow World Series team Georgetown (KY). Cumberland defeated Georgetown in the Mid-South Conference tournament and came through the loser's side of the Kingsport Bracket in the NAIA Opening Round Tournament to earn the bid to the World Series.
Winners of the 2010 NAIA World Series, this will mark the 12th time the Bulldogs have reached the tournament.
The Hawks, making their first ever trip to the World Series, will continue to look for their seniors to carry SDC deep into the tournament.
San Diego Christian, currently ranked No. 8 in the NAIA Top 25, swept their Opening Round opponents and are 7-2 in the last nine games. They rank ninth in homer runs (.733) per game and in fielding percentage (.969).
Cade Gotta, GSAC Player of the Year, comes into the tournament hitting .407 on the season with 11 homers, 38 RBI, 73 runs, and 42 stolen bases. He ranks fourth in the nation in stolen bases and runs. Jeff Lusardi leads the team with 53 RBI and has chipped in with 10 homers and a .370 average. Chad Erickson's .349 average is good for third on the team, as he comes in second in RBIs with 51, two behind Lusardi.
Gabriel Hemmer leads the charge on the mound for the Hawk's pitching staff. His 13 wins are tops on the team and in the nation, with a 13-3 record. In 122 innings pitched, Hemmer has recorded 119 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA. He is also sixth in the NAIA in total batters struck out.
Mark Vasquez enters with a 9-3 record and a 3.39 ERA. Joey Aquino leads the team in ERA with 2.45 and holds a 6-2 mark. Saves leader Steven Bunnell spearheads the Hawk's bullpen with a 2.79 ERA. David Johnson has made 15 appearances this season, six out of the bullpen recording three saves and a 3.43 ERA.
Led by 18 seniors, San Diego Christian looks to record its first World Series win. With a win, the Hawks will move on in the winners bracket and face off against World Series host, Lewis-Clark State, on Saturday. With a loss, SDC will slide down to the loser's bracket and will face the loser of Game 3, which includes Georgia Gwinnett and Oklahoma Wesleyan on Saturday.
The NAIA is offering a World Series Package for $29.95 for live video of all the tournament games leading up to the championship.
SDC squares off against Cumberland at 7 p.m. Friday.