Central Missouri wins the MIAA championship (photo/TheMIAA.com)

Central Missouri wins the MIAA championship (photo/TheMIAA.com)

The third-ranked Central Missouri Mules baseball team is set to open World Series play against No. 4 Lander on Sunday night, May 29 at 6 p.m. CDT.  The 2016 season marks the 23rd straight year that UCM has won at least 30 games and the 18th time in program history that the Mules have won 40 games. The Mules won their 25th MIAA Regular Season Championship this year after being picked to finish third in the MIAA’s Preseason Coaches’ poll. UCM also captured the 21st MIAA Tournament title and 17th Regional crown in program history.

Fourth-ranked Lander enters the championships at 42-14 overall after capturing the Southeast Region crown with a 5-3 win over South Carolina-Aiken. The Bearcats are making their second NCAA-II World Series appearance in three years under head coach Kermit Smith. The seventh-year head man sports a 242-132 record leading LU. LU is hitting .299 as a team with 96 doubles, 12 triples, 90 home runs and 451 RBI. The Lander pitching staff has a 3.98 ERA in 56 games and 497.0 innings pitched. The staff has walked 178 and struck out 454 over that span. Opponents are batting .268 against LU.

The Mules enter the World Series at 42-13 overall after the 7-4 win over Arkansas-Monticello in the Central Region Championship Game. The Mules are hitting .306 as a team with 93 doubles, 25 triples, 72 home runs and 361 RBI. Jake Alexander leads the team with a .395 batting average with 13 doubles, a triple, four home runs and 40 RBI. He has a .465 on-base percentage. Bennett Oliver is hitting .349 and leads the team in home runs with a UCM and MIAA single-season record 24 and a team-best 57 RBI. Derek Cornell is hitting .323 with 18 extra-base hits, including six home runs and has 41 RBI. Matt Elliott is batting .332 out of the leadoff spot. He has 13 doubles, eight triples and 10 home runs to go along with 37 runs batted in.
Cole Distler is batting .331 with 21 extra-base hits and 33 RBI. Dylan Farrell is hitting .316 with 11 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs and is second on the team with 47 RBI.

The pitching staff has a 3.81 team ERA through 55 games and 486.2 innings pitched. The staff has 460 strikeouts and 178 walks during that span.  Ethan Westphal is 10-2 with a staff-leading 2.80 ERA in 14 appearances and 13 starts. He leads the team with 99 strikeouts in 93.1 innings pitched and is holding opponents to a .213 batting average. Carlos D’Armas is 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 15 starts. He is second on the team with 89 strikeouts in 83.0 innings pitched.

The World Series takes place in Cary, NC.

Story: Central Missouri Athletics