LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – A matchup between two of the nation’s top NAIA baseball teams opens the 2019 season as No. 3 Georgia Gwinnett College hosts defending champion and top-ranked Southeastern University (Fla.) in a three-game weekend series at the Grizzly Baseball Complex.
Everything gets underway Friday, Feb. 1, with a nine-inning game at 3 p.m. Then, there will be a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 2, starting at noon.
The Grizzlies return six position players and two-thirds of its weekend starting rotation from last year’s team that posted a 50-12 record and was a semifinalist at the Avista-NAIA World Series. That’s the deepest run in the national tournament in program history.
Sophomore Cam Coursey earned preseason All-America team honors after garnering first All-America team accolades with a .485 batting average and team-high 94 hits in his first collegiate season. He also scored 60 runs and drove in 49 runs.
Other top returnees include seniors C.J. Ballard, who led GGC by scoring 68 runs a year ago, while hitting .427; Alex Garland, who connected on nine home runs and drove in a team-high 57 runs; Brandon Frazier, who collected 43 RBI and had seven hits across the team’s four NAIA World Series games; and Onassis Matos, who had a .360 batting average in 48 games at catcher. Meanwhile, sophomore Nick Barnes was the 2018 Association of
Independent Institutions’ Freshman of the Year behind seven home runs and 49 RBI.
On the mound, junior Hunter Dollander and senior Gregory Loukinen combined for 25 starts and a 15-2 record after more than 85 innings last spring. Loukinen tossed the program’s first no-hitter.
Southeastern had a 59-7 record last season. The Fire did not face the Grizzlies at the national championship tournament.
Admission to home games will be $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens, military personnel with identification and children more than five years of age. GGC students, faculty and staff with a valid Claw Card receive free admission. Also, children under five years old receive free admission.
Baseball season passes are available for $100. This is a 33-percent savings for admission to all baseball home regular-season contests.
Meet the Coaches
Georgia Gwinnett College: Brad Stromdahl is in his seventh season leading the Grizzlies. He has compiled a 280-91 record in Lawrenceville and has guided the program to two Avista-NAIA World Series appearances. The Grizzlies have advanced to postseason play in all five seasons of eligibility under Stromdahl’s guidance.
Southeastern: Adrian Dinkel has a 109-18 record in his third season at the Lakeland, Fla., college. He has led the Fire to two postseason tournament appearances, featuring last year’s NAIA national championship. Dinkel has a 341-97 mark in seven seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Top 5 Matches
Southeastern was ranked No. 1 and Georgia Gwinnett College was No. 3 in this year’s NAIA preseason poll, conducted by a nationwide panel of coaches and officials. Both teams won 50 or more games in 2018 and made up half of semifinal-round teams in the Avista-NAIA World Series.
The Grizzlies return six position players and two-thirds of the starting pitchers from the weekend rotation. These returning players helped GGC win 50 games in 2018.
Coursey Named Preseason All-American
Sophomore Cam Coursey was a 2019 NAIA Preseason All-America team member as a utility player. He batted .485, scored 94 runs and brought home 49 RBI in earning first NAIA All-America team honors as a freshman.
Home Sweet Home
GGC won 37 of its 41 games at the Grizzly Baseball Complex last season, including 15 of its first 16 home games. The team plays its first 16 games at home this spring.
Inside the Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are 5-1 in season-opening contests. The team swept a three-game series at home in 2018 against No. 6-ranked Missouri Baptist University.
GGC held a 181-to-92 stolen-base advantage over its opposition in 2018. Five different players recorded 16 or more stolen bases a year ago.
Georgia Gwinnett College plays nine opponents (23 games) against teams receiving votes in the 2019 NAIA Preseason Top 25 poll.
The 2018 team won 50 games for the fourth time in the program’s six seasons.
Head Coach Brad Stromdahl is the only head coach in the program’s seven seasons. He has recorded 280 wins and a .755 winning percentage.
Scouting the Fire
Southeastern captured the 2018 NAIA national championship after winning all five games at the Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. The Fire defeated Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) 6-3 in the championship game. Last year’s team posted a 59-7 record and was 22-2 in The Sun Conference games.
GGC leads 5-0, with the Grizzlies winning the last encounter 8-1 on Jan. 30, 2016, at Southeastern in Lakeland, Fla. The Grizzlies picked up two wins against the Fire to win the 2014 NAIA Lawrenceville Opening Round.
FOLLOW THE GRIZZLIES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
GGCAthletics.com will be home for the latest news and information regarding the baseball season. Video broadcasts of all home games will be through the Grizzly Digital Network with Matt Mahony providing play-by-play commentary.