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Baseball - Thu, May 4, 2017

The Valley City State baseball team enters this week's North Star Athletic Association Conference Tournament as the No. 3 seed and has its sights set on earning a trip to the NAIA National Tournament.

The Vikings open the tournament against No. 6 seed Viterbo University on Friday at 4 p.m. in Valley City. Valley City and Jamestown will combine to host the four-day tournament. Games will be played at both sites on Friday and Saturday, and then Valley City will host the final two days on Sunday and Monday.

The tournament is split into two four-team brackets. Each bracket will play double elimination, with the bracket champions advancing to the NSAA Tournament championship game on Monday. Bellevue University, which enters as the top overall seed, has already locked up one of the conference's two automatic bids to the NAIA National Tournament by virtue of its regular season championship. The tournament champion (or tournament runner-up if Bellevue is the champion) will earn the conference's second auto-bid to the national tournament.

Tournament Bracket

Valley City is in Bracket B along with No. 2 seed Mayville State, No. 6 seed Viterbo University and No. 7 seed Waldorf University. VCSU split its four-game series with Mayville State this spring and did not play either Viterbo or Waldorf.

All Valley City State games during the tournament will have live radio coverage on KOVC 1490-AM and online at All tournament games will have live video and live stats. Links are below.

VCSU Radio on KOVC 1490  |  Live Video  |  Live Stats

Bracket A includes No. 1 seed Bellevue, No. 4 University of Jamestown, No. 5 Dickinson State and No. 8 Presentation College. If Bellevue wins Bracket A, the winner of Bracket B would earn the conference's second automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament. Bellevue is ranked No. 2 in the NAIA Top 25 Poll, while Mayville State is ranked No. 22.

The Vikings enter the tournament with a 25-24 overall record and an 18-6 mark in conference play. VCSU started the season 7-17 overall and 0-2 in conference play before going 17-3 over their next 20 games. The Vikings closed the season by going 1-3 against Jamestown and losing a non-conference game at North Dakota State University.

Viterbo University is 12-34 overall and 10-14 in the NSAA. Viterbo started the season 0-15 before going 12-19 since March 17. The V-Hawks are batting .257 as a team while allowing opposing teams to hit .353. Viterbo's pitchers have a team ERA of 9.54. Valley City State is hitting .297 as a team while allowing opponents to hit just .266. The Viking pitchers have posted a team ERA of 5.26 and have struck out 302 batters in 380 innings.

VCSU's starting pitchers have been solid on the mound all season: Steven Velarde is 5-2 with a 3.13 ERA; Andrew Frank is 5-5 with a 3.39 ERA; Jacob VanVacter has gone 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA; and Jordon Roos is 5-4 with a 4.94 ERA.

Starting shortstop Jared Meiklejohn has played stellar defense this season and also leads in the team in batting average (.373), runs (42), hits (69) and home runs (5). He also has 16 doubles and has driven in 38 runs, which are both second on the team. Catcher and utility player Brady Anderson is batting .366 with 30 runs, a school-record 18 doubles, four home runs and a team-high 48 RBIs.

Tyler Ukestad is hitting .359 with 19 RBIs, and Anthony Necochea is batting .344 with 25 runs and errorless defense in centerfield. Catcher Ben Bruenjes is hitting .315 with four home runs and 20 RBIs.

If VCSU wins its first round game on Friday, they would play the winner of Mayville-Waldorf on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Valley City. If the Vikings were to lose on Friday, they would play at 11 a.m. Saturday.