April 19, 2012

Alan Grosbach, NAIA Manager of Communications & Sports Information contributed to this article.

Series of the Week:
No. 16 The Master's (Calif.) (29-15, 14-12 GSAC) at No. 12 Concordia (Calif.) (27-14, 16-8 GSAC)

KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Defending national champion Concordia squares off with Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) rival The Master's in a four-game series starting Thursday afternoon at Eagles Field in Irvine, Calif. The two sides will play two games at each home site. Concordia currently rests in second place, five games behind conference leader No. 4 Azusa Pacific (Calif.), with a 16-8 conference record, while the Mustangs are third at 14-12 in league action.

The Master's owns a 45-35 advantage in the all-time series, however Concordia is 7-5 in regular-season games against the Mustangs over the last three seasons.

Since 2000, the two sides have never met while both appearing in the Coaches' Top 25 Poll.

Concordia has dropped three of its last five, including a pair against Westmont (Calif.) on April 7 - 10. Prior to the skid, the Eagles had won five straight, including a four-game sweep of Biola (Calif.).

Against Westmont, the Concordia pitching staff allowed 33 runs (29 earned) and 54 hits, while the offense hammered 33 runs (21 earned) of its own on 40 hits.

The Eagles showcase a talented offense that owns a .319 team batting average and .459 slugging percentage this season. Concordia leads the nation in triples with 26, while ranking amongst the top 20 in hits per game (10.6) and runs scored per game (7.6). Kyle Konicek, who has appeared in 40-of-41 games this season, leads the team in hits (62), doubles (11), triples (6) and RBIs (34), while ranking second on the squad in batting average (.373).

On the mound, Concordia owns a 5.20 team earned run average (ERA) in 353.0 innings pitched. Jake Hovis (5-4-1) has emerged as the team's ace this season, posting a 3.89 ERA in 81.0 innings.

The Master's rebounded from a seven-game losing streak from March 15 - 24 with wins in nine of its last 11 games, including a two-game sweep of then-No. 25 Cal State San Marcos on April 5.

Pitching and defense are two of the keys to the Mustang's success this season, ranking second nationally in fielding percentage (.979), third in assists per game (11.6), eighth in total assists (512), 15th in ERA (3.30) and 16th in opponent batting average (.239).

Charlie Gillies (7-4) serves as the ace of The Master's pitching staff. The 6-foot-2 senior ranks in the top 10 nationally in five different categories including: second in strikeouts (102), fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (5.10), fifth in innings pitched (84.2), sixth in opponent batting average (.168) and eighth in innings pitched per game (7.1). Over his last three starts, Gillies has allowed just two unearned runs, while striking out 31, including a season-high 16 K's on March 31 against Westmont.

Offensively, The Master's owns a .283 team batting average, while slugging .422 as a unit. Joe Riddle's .324 batting average and 44 hits lead the team, while Chris Talley paces the squad with 33 RBIs.

Game time is set for the series on Thursday (3 p.m.) and Friday (3 p.m.) in Irvine, Calif. at Eagles Field, and a doubleheader on Saturday (12 p.m. and 3 p.m.) in Santa Clarita, Calif. at Reese Field.

Live Stats and Broadcasting for Concordia can be found here:

Live Stats and Broadcasting for TMC can be found here: