A week after going undefeated in the 2019 American Southwest Conference Baseball Tournament Blue Bracket, the LeTourneau University baseball team will make its first appearance in the ASC Tournament Gold Bracket Series beginning today at Concordia University Texas in Austin.
The Gold Bracket Championship Series format, which was instituted for the 2016 postseason, matches the winners of the ASC Tournament Red and Blue Brackets in a best-of-three series with the winner earning the ASC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament.
LETU entered the final week of the regular-season needing a win just to qualify for the ASC Tournament, and has won four of its past five games to qualify as the eight seed. The YellowJackets then knocked off ASC regular-season champion Howard Payne University, fourth-seeded Louisiana College, and fifth-seeded Texas-Dallas to find their way into the championship series.
The Tornadoes enter the best-of-three series having won five straight games, including a perfect 3-0 record last week in the ASC Tournament Red Bracket after defeating Sul Ross State and East Texas Baptist twice.
Games one is set for a 6 p.m. start at Tornado Field today with the host Tornadoes serving as the home team while game two will be Friday night at 6 p.m. with LeTourneau serving as the home team. If the two teams were to split the first two games, LETU and Concordia would play a winner-take-all game at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
On the season, LETU is 24-19 overall and 11-11 in true road contests and is led by a .329 batting average from junior Brandon Ramirez. The Willis native was named to the ASC Tournament Blue Bracket All-Tournament Team alongside Tournament Blue Bracket MVP Eli Birriel who is hitting .306 on the season and is a perfect 12-for-12 in stolen base attempts.
Pitching proved to be a key factor for the YellowJackets last weekend as the LeTourneau pitching staff would allow just three runs in each of the first two games of the ASC Tournament before hanging on to outlast Louisiana College 10-7 in the ASC Blue Bracket Championship game.
Getting off to a good start will also be pivotal for LeTourneau in the series as LETU is 20-3 overall when leading after 6 innings but just 2-15 overall when they trail heading into the seventh.
CTX will bring a 32-10 overall record into the series which includes three wins over LeTourneau that took place in Austin back on April 18-19 as the Tornadoes look for their first ASC Tournament title since 2012.
Brett Leiferman will lead Concordia into the weekend with a .371 batting average and 37 RBI as the Tornadoes are hitting .299 as a team in their 42 games. Pitching has been a bigger factor for CTX throughout the season with a team ERA of 3.20 and six shutouts.
Historically, this will be the fourth all-time postseason meeting between the two teams and just the second tournament that the YellowJackets and Tornadoes have faced off.
All three of the previous meetings came back in 2014 at Tornado Field when LETU would go on to win their only ASC Tournament Title with a 6-4 victory in a winner-take-all elimination game.