CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 2020 Oregon Tech baseball team features 15 new players that look to improve on a 7-25 conference record and a 13-38 overall record a year ago. The Owls have been picked to finish in 5th place in the NAIA-West with Lewis-Clark State a unanimous choice to capture the title in the 2020 NAIA West Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Poll, released this morning.

Head Coach Matt Miles said, “This team will be counting on a lot of newcomers to improve our depth and play key roles on our pitching staff.”

Three key returners for the Owls include All-Region selection Micah Jio (Junior/Kula, HI) All-Region pitcher Trask Telesmanich (Senior/Gladstone, OR) and Zach Sherman (Junior/Danville, CA). Jio led the NAIA-West in hits (75), total bases (116), batting average (.361) and extra base hits (26).

Newcomers to this year’s team are led by Klamath Falls native and former Henley High standout Josh Overstreet. Overstreet returns home after stops at Montana State and Lane CC. Joining Overstreet are transfers Payton Harris (Yakima Valley CC), Jarid Norberg (Feather River CC), freshman John Barry (Reno, Nevada), and former Hustlin’ Owl McKinnon Bennett (SO/Grants Pass, OR) makes his return after a three year hiatus.

The Warriors of Lewis-Clark State College have won eight-straight NAIA West Championships and garnered all five first-place votes to sit in first in the poll with 25 points. LCSC finished last year with a 25-14-1 overall, 24-8 conference record, and is expected to win it all again for an unprecedented ninth year.

UBC sits in second with 20 points after finishing last year 30-22, 22-9, and advancing to the NAIA Championship for the eighth time.

Corban University (13 points), College of Idaho (8 points) and Oregon Tech (7 points) fill out spots three through five on the poll, mirroring last year’s NAIA West regular-season finish.

LCSC will host the 64th Annual NAIA Baseball World Series May 22-29 in Lewiston, Idaho. As hosts, the Warriors earn an automatic berth to the NAIA World Series.

The top team (excluding LCSC) in the final regular-season standings will advance as the NAIA West representative to the California Pacific Conference five-team tournament. A second representative (excluding LCSC) may also advance if the NAIA West team BoChip ranking is higher than fourth-place Cal Pac team. The April BoChip rating will be used to determine if the second NAIA West team or the fourth-place Cal Pac team advances.

With only five teams, the NAIA West is one team shy of qualification for its own AQ to postseason, thus the need to advance through the Cal Pac. After a 13-year hiatus, Eastern Oregon University announced the reinstatement of the baseball program, beginning with the 2021 season. With the addition of EOU, as well as LCSC joining the CCC in all sports, the NAIA West moniker will be retired and the teams will compete as Cascade Collegiate Conference baseball vying for their own automatic qualification for NAIA post season.

2020 NAIA West Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Poll

Team (First-place Votes)                 Points            2019 NAIA West          2019 Overall
1. Lewis-Clark State College (5)        25 pts                      24-8                         35-14-1
2. British Columbia                              20 pts                      22-9                          30-22
3. Corban University                            13 pts                     16-15                       18-31-1
4. College of Idaho                               8 pts                       10-22                        16-35
5. Oregon Tech                                     7 pts                        7-25                          13-37

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