MidAmerica Nazarene baseball upsets way to 2nd straight NAIA World Series berth

MidAmerica Nazarene University baseball World Series 2023
Posted at 5:46 PM, May 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-18 18:46:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One year after reaching the NAIA World Series for the first time, the MidAmerica Nazarene University baseball team upset its way to a second straight appearance.

The Pioneers upset Louisiana State University - Shreveport, which is ranked second in the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 and hosted the World Series-qualifying tournament, 7-6 on Thursday to clinch consecutive championship-tournament berths.

The host teams won six of the 10 tournaments.

MNU (34-26), which was seeded fourth in the Shreveport Bracket, beat Dillard (Louisiana) then upset LSU-Shreveport on Monday in the double-elimination tourney.

The Pioneers toppled Morningside (Iowa) to reach the Shreveport Bracket final Tuesday before losing to the host Pilots on Wednesday, setting up Thursday’s winner-take-all showdown. Third baseman Javier Melendez went 2 for 5 with three RBIs, including a third-inning RBI double and the game-winning bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth inning.

Left fielder Sean Maple added two hits, including a double, with two runs scored and two RBIs, while shortstop Brycen Sherwood chipped in two hits and center fielder Drew Woodley scored twice for MNU.

Left-hander Reece Helland — from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada — scattered three hits and a walk in two scoreless innings to close the game as the Pioneers rallied with two ninth-inning runs for the win.

MNU, which finished third in the Heart of America Athletic Conference standings, now advances to the NAIA World Series, which is slated for May 26 to June 2 at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.