Ottawa Arizona plays in NCCAA World Series starting Wednesday

Ottawa University Arizona baseball freshman shortstop Adrian Salazar (a 2017 Kellis graduate) throws over to first base during the Spirit’s April 25 game against Arizona Christian University at Surprisr Stadium. [Courtesy of Ottawa University Arizona Athletics]

By Derek Diesner
For Independent Newsmedia

The Ottawa University Arizona baseball team was named as an at-large participant National Christian College Athletic Association Baseball World Series in its first season of play.

NCCAA announced the full field May 16. The world series is scheduled today through May 26 in Easley, S.C. The OUAZ baseball team is the eighth seed in the 10-team field.

“As you can imagine, our players, coaching staff, and administration are truly excited and grateful for this opportunity to receive an at-large bid to the NCCAA National Tournament in South Carolina,” said OUAZ head baseball coach Tim Montez. “This entire year has been truly a blessing for all involved in making our first year in program history a successful one. My players and coaching staff deserve all the credit as they continued to stay together throughout the entire year, especially after a rough start. But after coaching for 30 years, any coach will tell you that you want to be playing your best baseball in the month of May.”

The challenge we will have is being off for almost three weeks, but we will be well rested and I expect our guys to come out with a lot of energy and focus in giving their best effort on a national stage. We need to enjoy this, but also understand that at the end of the day it’s business as usual.”

OUAZ finished the regular season with a record of 24-21 and just missed out on qualifying for the NCCAA West Regional.The Spirit will open up pool play at 11 a.m. (Arizona time) Wednesday against the No. 1 seed Biola University.

On Thursday, the Spirit open up against No. 5 seed Concordia University Ann Arbor (Mich.) at 7 a.m., followed by a game against No. 9 seed Bluefield College at 1 p.m.

OUAZ closes out pool play at 8 a.m. Friday morning against No. 4 seed Southwestern Christian University. The semifinals are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Friday, followed by the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The field includes region winners Colorado Christian University, Bluefield College, Concordia University Ann Arbor, Warner University and Biola University.

Five at-large bids went to OUAZ, the University of Saint Katherine, Hiwassee College, Southwestern Christian University, and Campbellsville University.

The only school in the World Series OUAZ has faced is the University of Saint Katherine. The Firebirds and Spirit split their season series, three games apiece.

OUAZ has not played a game since concluding the regular season on April 28 at San Diego Christian College.

Teams completed their Christian Service Project on May 22 by serving at local churches.

• On May 18 the NCCAA announced baseball all-region honors.

Montez was named West Region Coach of the Year, while six players were named to the all region baseball team. Both Greg Saenz and Chandler Reynard were named to the first team, while Josh Meyer, Adrian Salazar, Hayden Durkiewicz and Colton Follett were all named to the second team.

“I am extremely proud and excited for our six young men who made first and second team NCCAA All-West Region,” said OUAZ head baseball coach Tim Montez. “These young men not only did it on the field, but also in the classroom with a cumulative GPA of over 3.0. I am excited for our staff, team and for our university; as this is a great honor for our first year program.”

Senior Greg Saenz played second base and third base. Saenz finished the season with a batting average of .333; which ranks fourth best on the Spirit. He leads the team in home runs (5), doubles (17), and RBI (38). Saenz boasts a .511 slugging percentage and a .371 on-base percentage.

Junior Chandler Reynard started and played in all 45 games while hitting .318 on the year. Reynard has one home run and 30 RBI, with a team high 25 walks and 23 stolen bases. Reynard’s slugging percentage is .370, with a .412 on-base percentage.

Josh Meyer spent time at first base, catcher and designated hitter during his senior year. Meyer transferred to OUAZ from Grand Canyon University. He played in all 45 games this season, while batting .308 on the year with three home runs and 35 RBI. Meyer has drawn 22 walks and leads the team in hit-by-pitches, with eight. To this point in the season, Meyer sports a .491 slugging percentage and a .406 on-base percentage.

Shortstop Adrian Salazar was reliable in 2018, starting in all 45 games. He ranked third on the team in batting average, with a .341 average. Salazar has one home run and 24 RBI to this point with 32 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 12 doubles and 11 walks.Two Spirit pitchers earned second team spots.

Follett, a lefty, appeared in 15 games while making a pair of starts. He has a 4-1 record with one save and a team low 2.65 ERA. He has thrown 34 innings, allowing 11 runs; ten earned with 43 strikeouts and 18 walks.

Durkiewicz sports a record of 6-3 with a 3.59 ERA. Durkiewicz has thrown 52.2 innings while allowing 25 runs; 21 earned with 26 strikeouts and 16 walks. Durkiewicz is hitting .226 with a home run and ten RBI.

Montez boasts a resume of 25 years as a college coach. Montez was chosen region coach of the year over candidates from the No. 1 overall seed and the No. 6 overall seeds, respectively.

Editor’s note: Derek Diesner is the sports information director for Ottawa University Arizona.

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