Kansas Wesleyan seeded eighth in World Series Bracket opens Tournament Friday

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LEWISTON, Idaho – The new kids on the block get to get the party started. Making its first ever Avista NAIA World Series appearance, the Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes will open the 10-team, double elimination tournament on Friday at 8:35 PT, 10:35 CT against No. 9 seeded Arizona Christian.

The game will mark the start of the 67th Annual Avista NAIA World Series, hosted at Harris Field on the campus of Lewis-Clark State College. LCSC has hosted the NAIA World Series since 2000, the second run for the school hosting. It also hosted the Series from 1984 to 1991.

Kansas Wesleyan enters the World Series as the tournament’s 8 Seed after winning the Shreveport Opening Round bracket with a 2-1 win over No. 4 ranked LSU-Shreveport last Thursday.

KWU enters the World Series with a .327 team batting average, tied with Arizona Christian and Mid-America Christian in the NAIA team statistics leaders. KWU ranks No. 9 in the NAIA in total hits with 624, and third in the country in RBI with 516. KWU also ranks third in the country in extra base hits with 280 and is second in the NAIA in home runs with 127 and are tied for ninth with 129 doubles on the season.

Jarrett Gable paces the KWU hitters with a .386 batting average, with 93 hits and 76 RBI. He has 19 homeruns on the season and 18 doubles for a .722 slugging average and a .449 on base percentage and a 1.171 OPS. His 19 homers ranks 19th in the NAIA and ranks 15th in the country in RBI.

Kendall Foster leads the Coyotes with 23 homers on the season and has 67 hits and a .353 batting average with an .858 slugging average. He ranks ninth in the country in homers and seventh in slugging.

Tyler Favretto leads the NAIA in walks with 62 to go along with 17 homers and 63 hits.

Wesleyan’s starting pitching staff is paced by Jarrett Brannen and Brett Maddock.

Brannen is 11-1 overall on the season in 14 starts, with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 77 and two-thirds innings pitched, with 77 strikeouts against 26 walks. He’s tied for second in the country in wins.

Maddock is 9-2 on the season in 16 starts with four complete games, with a 5.35 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 77 and one-third innings with 75 strikeouts against 20 walks. Maddock went seven masterful innings in the Opening Round Championship helping KWU pick up the win to advance.

The back end of the Coyote bullpen is very solid with Ritter SteinmannKT Gearlds and closer Ryan Sandoval.

In 28 appearances for the Coyotes, Steinman as a 1.99 ERA in 40 and two-thirds innings, with a 1.25 WHIP, 49 strikeouts against 18 walks. Gearlds, in 22 appearances and 27 and a third innings, as a miniscule 0.99 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP with 40 strikeouts and 13 walks. Batters are hitting just .163 against Gearlds. Sandoval has eight saves for the Coyotes on the season in 18 appearances, with 19 strikeouts and five walks in 17 innings pitched.

First round opponent Arizona Christian is making its first-ever trip to Lewiston and the NAIA World Series. The Firestorm won the NAIA Opening Round held at Lewis-Clark State with an 8-7 come from behind win over British Columbia in the final. The Firestorm are 36-19 overall on the season.

The Firestorm are hitting .327 on the season, tied with KWU in the NAIA team statistics leaders. ACU ranks eighth in hits with 630 and seventh in RBI. The Firestorm ranks eighth in extra base hits with 239, tied with KWU for ninth in the country in doubles and 11th with 95 homeruns on the season.

Matthew Beckworth leads the Firestorm with a .405 batting average, but missed about 20 games during the regular season, playing in 33 of 55 team games. Marques Titialii is hitting .384 for ACU with a 1.267 OPS and a .792 slugging average. He leads the team with 24 homers, 83 hits and 83 RBI.

Eli Elliott paces the ACU pitching staff with a 7-4 record in 15 starts with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in 76 innings with 99 strikeouts against 23 walks. Adrian Santa Cruz has a 9-4 record overall with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 70 and a third innings with 100 strikeouts and 27 walks. Eastyn Culp has 10 starts and 18 appearances with a 6.79 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 61 innings with 66 strikeouts and 20 walks. The Firestorm has four other pitchers with over 20 appearances on the season.

This is not the first time the two teams have met in recent memory. KWU and ACU played once in 2022 with ACU winning 5-3 and once in 2023 with ACU winning 13-7. Both games were played in late January in Arizona.

The winner of Friday morning’s game will advance in the World Series bracket to face the No. 1 seed Southeastern (Fla.) on Saturday at 3:05 Pacific, 5:05 Central Time. KWU faced Southeastern in the 2023 Opening Round in Fayette, Mo. The loser will drop into the loser’s bracket against the loser of Hope International vs Reinhardt on Saturday at 8:35/10:35 in an elimination game.

The World Series runs through May 31.