Rio Grande draws Middle Georgia State in NAIA Baseball opener


By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing



RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Much like their softball counterparts, the University of Rio Grande baseball team now has Georgia on their collective minds.

The RedStorm will be the No. 3 seed in the Macon, Ga. bracket of the 2019 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round hosted by Middle Georgia State University at historic Luther Williams Field.

The pairings for the nine, five-team regional sites in the first round of the national tournament were announced Thursday evening by the NAIA national office.

The third-seeded RedStorm (38-19) will face No. 2 seed Middle Georgia State (39-14) on Monday, May 13, at 2:30 p.m. The remaining two games on Monday’s schedule feature No. 4 seed Huntington (IN) University (26-14) and fifth-seeded British Columbia (29-20) in the 11 a.m. opener, with the winner facing top-seeded Southeastern, Fla. (48-10) in the 6 p.m. finale.

The winner’s bracket final and a pair of elimination games are slated for Tuesday, May 14, while the loser’s bracket final and the championship first final are scheduled for Wednesday, May 15 and a second final, if necessary – will take place on Thursday, May 16.

Rio Grande punched its ticket to the double-elimination tournament last Sunday by winning the River States Conference tournament title with a pair of wins over Indiana University Kokomo.

IU Southeast also made the tournament field, which includes 32 automatic qualifiers and 13 at-large selections, as the RSC’s regular season champion.

For the fifth straight season, at-large teams were determined by a National Selection Committee (NSC). The NSC consists of one representative from each geographic area, a representative from the National Administrative Council (NAC) Rules and Ratings Committee, the president of the NAIA-Baseball Coaches Association and three at-large members. The committee evaluated teams throughout the year on various criteria.

Rio Grande is making its fourth trip to the national tourney and its first since 2016.

Of the 45 schools comprising this year’s tournament field, 28 are making repeat appearances and four are first-time participants.

The nine regional winners will join host Lewis-Clark State in the 63rd Annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, which is slated for May 24-31, in Lewiston, Idaho.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.