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30th A-Sun Baseball Championship starts Wednesday

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19, 2008

MACON, Ga. - The 30th Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship Presented by Progress Energy returns to Melching Field at Conrad Park, on the campus of Stetson University, for the seventh consecutive May. Fans can catch all the action on ASun.TV.

The Hatters secured their berth in the field on the final weekend of the season and earned the fifth seed. The Championship will be without its defending champion, Jacksonville, which lost out on a tie-breaker with Campbell, as well as the regular-season champion, Florida Gulf Coast, which can not compete due to NCAA reclassifying rules.

Lipscomb will make their second-ever appearance at the A-Sun Championship (2007) and will enter as the top seed after posting a 19-14 mark in conference play. The Bisons seek their first Championship game win as they went 0-2 last year as the sixth seed.

Brandon McClurg leads the staff after posting a 6-5 mark with a sparkling 2.70 ERA, third in the A-Sun with a conference-best .230 opponent's batting average. He hurled a no-hitter against Kennesaw State on March 29, the first in the league since Florida Atlantic's Mickey Storey no-hit Campbell in 2006.

For the third-consecutive A-Sun Championship, Mercer owns the two seed. In both 2006 and 2007, the Bears failed to reach championship Saturday, winning just once in 2006 and falling one game short in 2007. In has been nine years since the second seed has captured the title. Jacksonville defeated Troy in 1999 representing the only time in the 12-year history of the current six-team, double-elimination format that the second seed has won the title. The Bears will look to ride the right arm of Dan April. He enters the week with a sparkling 2.47 ERA, lowest among those competing for the championship as well an opponent's batting average of just .235, third best in the conference.

At the 2007 A-Sun Championship, the Belmont Bruins fell one win shy of winning their first championship. They return to the scene this year as the third seed with a pair of two of the top two-way players in the conference.

Junior Carlo Testa tied for second in wins with six and ranked seventh in strikeouts with 64 while hitting .389 with an A-Sun-best seven triples. Freshman Nate Woods went 5-2 with a 3.66 ERA, sixth in the conference, while slugging six home runs, second on the team. Against A-Sun foes, he went undefeated in seven appearances, winning all five starts while sporting a 3.19 ERA.

Entering the final weekend of A-Sun play, no seeds for the championship had been clinched and only three teams had even secured a berth.

Gardner-Webb locked up its spot with a win in its penultimate contest. Stetson sewed up the fifth seed by rallying from a five-run deficit to defeat ETSU leaving just the sixth seed in doubt. Campbell trailed Jacksonville by two games entering the weekend but after taking its first two against Lipscomb, the Camels learned they were destined for DeLand after Kennesaw State completed a sweep of the Dolphins.

The Dolphins fate rested on winning their final game and Campbell losing its finale against Lipscomb to make the field. Kennesaw State led Jacksonville 8-3 after the top of the sixth inning before a rain delay hit the Jacksonville area. When the game resumed, the Dolphins cut the lead to 8-6 and put runners a second and third with two out in the ninth but failed to capitalize.