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Master's Gratefully Advances to Series


The Master's College, the region's only college baseball team still circling the bases this season, will enter its first NAIA World Series on Friday when the Mustangs play Birmingham Southern at Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho.

Master's (35-13) earned an at-large bid to the 10-team, double-elimination tournament, despite losing two of three games against Albertson of Caldwell, Idaho, in the sectional playoffs last weekend. Albertson defeated Master's, 7-4, in the deciding game Saturday, but not before the Mustangs learned they had qualified for the tournament.

"We had just found out before the game," Coach Monte Brooks of Master's said. "I don't know if that took any pressure off some of the guys. It's a different reaction for each individual. But the kids are jazzed. We played well this weekend."

Brooks guided Master's through a light workout Monday in Caldwell. The team is scheduled to depart for Lewiston on Wednesday.

As is his custom, Brooks declined to designate a starting pitcher against Birmingham Southern (46-18), which spent part of the season ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation. But he will have an additional option this week.

Senior right-hander Mike Ploharz (11-1) returned to the team after a one-week suspension for disciplinary reasons. Ploharz suffered his first loss Saturday in the second game of the series against Albertson.

"That gives us added strength," Brooks said. "This is definitely a time to perform on the mound."

A more probable starter is junior right-hander Josh Higgins (13-4), who pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts in the series opener against Albertson, runner-up last season to NAIA national champion Lewis-Clark State.

Albertson earned a first-round bye. Master's and Birmingham Southern have never met in baseball.

"They're a highly disciplined team," Brooks said. "They don't beat themselves. They're an excellent baserunning team, too."

The NAIA World Series is scheduled to run through June 2.


Shortstop Ty Sager of Master's, who broke his left hand while diving for a ball two weeks ago, is with the team and undergoing daily therapy in hopes of making a return.

Sager, a two-year starter, set a school record with 78 hits last season and is an offensive catalyst.

"We're trying," Brooks said. "It's a bone chip. He's very anxious to come back. He's trying really hard."

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