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Foresters headed to Georgia for National Tournament

BRACKET: Huntington will compete in the Macon Bracket of the NAIA National Tournament, held in Macon, Georgia.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced on Thursday this year’s bracket for the NAIA Baseball National Tournament, with the Huntington University baseball team holding the fourth seed in the Macon Bracket.

The Foresters, who accumulated a 26–14 overall record this season, will face off with the fifth-seeded University of British Columbia on Monday morning in the opening game of the bracket.

“To be honest, the NAIA kind of jumped the gun and put the brackets up earlier than what they were supposed to,” said head coach Mike Frame. “They were up for about five minutes and one of our kids saw it, so I had an idea what was going on before the (NAIA’s official announcement) show.”

Huntington clinched a berth in the NAIA National Tournament by claiming the Crossroads League regular season championship with a conference mark of 20–7.

This year marks the Foresters’ fourth appearance in the NAIA National Tournament, including two of the last three seasons.

Despite already knowing who they would be playing, the team still enjoyed watching the announcement show live on Thursday night.

“It’s always fun,” Frame said. “People think about the March Madness thing and what they do with that. It’s cool for the guys to see their name up there, where they’re going and the other teams.”

The Thunderbirds, based in Vancouver, Canada, compete as part of the NAIA’s Cascade Conference and are the only non-U.S.-based institution among the NAIA’s baseball members.

British Columbia, who sported a 29–20 record this season, clinched their spot in the NAIA National Tournament by finishing as the Unaffiliated CalPac/Frontier/Cascade Tournament runner-up.

The Thunderbirds will be making their eighth appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.

“For a long time, we recruited from (the province of) British Columbia,” Frame said. “Several of our better players over the years have been from that area because they didn’t have college baseball. Obviously, they have for the past few years, and that’s a good program. That’s all I know (about them).”

The NAIA National Tournament features nine opening round brackets of five teams each. The opening round brackets will be conducted in a double-elimination format.

The Foresters hit the road for Georgia on Friday night and are expected to arrive in Macon on Saturday. The team will have a workout on Sunday and will be a part of a welcome banquet Sunday night before opening up the tournament on Monday.

“We’re just excited to be there,” Frame said. “(We) want to play as well as we can.”

Huntington and British Columbia are scheduled to play the first game of the day on Monday with first pitch scheduled for 11 a.m. The winner will move on to play top-seeded No. 1 Southeastern later on Monday, while the loser will face the loser of a Monday afternoon matchup between the host school, No. 10 Middle Georgia State, and RV Rio Grande on Tuesday.

Each of the nine opening round bracket champions will join Lewis-Clark State in the NAIA Baseball World Series, held in Lewiston, Idaho, from May 24–31.