Tuesday, May 24, 2011
MACON, Ga. - One day before the start of 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Championship, the conference announced the postseason awards where Jacksonville's Adam Brett Walker won Player of the Year; Stetson's Kurt Schluter grabbed Pitcher of the Year; UNF's Alex Bacon earned Freshman of the Year and the Hatters' Pete Dunn garnered his sixth Coach of the Year, the conference announced on Tuesday.
Walker, a sophomore from Milwaukee, finished the regular season atop the A-Sun in batting average (.415) and doubles (22) while ending second in hits, runs, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. He added 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases to finish as the only player in the conference with double figures in both categories. He became the fourth Dolphin named Player of the Year in the last nine years joining Chad Hauseman (2003), Daniel Murphy (2006) and Pete Clifford (2007).
Fellow sophomore Schluter opened 2011 by holding down Georgia to complete a sweep for the Hatters. He rattled off eight wins against no losses in 10 starts. In league contests, he posted a 5-0 record with a 0.97 ERA and 37 strikeouts. The champion Hatters placed a conference-leading four on the All-Atlantic Sun First Team. In addition to Schluter, Stetson's double-play combination of Mark Jones (shortstop) and Robert Crews (second base) plus catcher Nick Rickles made the First Team. Head Coach Pete Dunn directed the Hatters to their ninth 40-win campaign.
Making up the three-man starting staff with Schluter included Belmont's Matt Hamann and Mercer's Brandon Love. The two finished second and third, respectively, to Schluter in the race for the ERA crown. Hamann compiled an 8-1 record while Love composed a 7-1 mark. In the bullpen, the league featured the nation's top closer in ETSU's Bo Reeder. He established an A-Sun record for saves in a single season with 18 and enters the A-Sun Championship leading the nation in the category.
Walker took First-Team honors at first base while Mercer's Jacob Tanis claimed the third-base position on the First Team for a second-straight year. A year after challenging for the national lead in RBI, Tanis again proved to be one of the top run producers in the country, driving in 74 to rank fifth in the nation. Walker's teammate, Dan Gulbransen headed up the First-Team outfield. He made the team by a unanimous vote. After consecutive years on the second team, Belmont's Dylan Craig earned a First Team spot, as did Kennesaw State speedster Aaron Dobbs and USC Upstate's Blake Green, who paced the league with 95 hits. Green became the Spartans' first First-Team representative. The Bruins Nate Woods landed on the first team as the designated hitter for a second-straight year.
Jacksonville and Mercer each put three on the second team. Two Dolphin pitchers, starter Steve Eagerton and closer Chris Anderson joined shortstop Jimmy Howick on the team while a pair from the Bears outfield, Billy Burns and Thomas Carroll, accompanied designated hitter Joe Winker on the team.
ETSU's Reeder added a Second-Team honor at third base to his First-Team accolade at reliever to his season of accomplishments. He made the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List and the John Olerud Watch List. The Olerud award recognizes the top two-way player in the country. Starting pitcher Derek Bushey became the first Buc starting pitcher named to an A-Sun All-Conference team. The heart of Kennesaw State's lineup, catcher Ronnie Freeman and first baseman Andy Chriscaden earned Second-Team honors. Stetson starting pitcher Lindsey Caughel, Belmont starter Chase Brookshire, FGCU second baseman Mikel Alvarez and Lipscomb outfielder M.L. Williams rounded out the second team.
Under first-year head coach Smoke Laval, UNF produced four All-Freshmen selections led by Freshman of the Year Alex Bacon. Bacon hit .352 with nine home runs and 42 RBI while patrolling the outfield for the Ospreys. Shane Kennedy and Alex Hernandez took over the middle infield positions of UNF and Tyler Moore turned in a 4-3 record with a 3.44 ERA (seventh in the A-Sun).
Across town, three Dolphins earned All-Freshman honors. Second-team reliever Anderson headed up the list. Second baseman Taylor Ratliff took over the leadoff spot and posted a .429 on-base percentage with 22 steals. Tony Mollica held opponents to a .211 batting average, lowest in the conference.
One year after placing three on All-Freshmen team en route to an A-Sun Championship run, Mercer again put three on the team. D.J. Johnson, who also made the Olerud Award watch list, hit .260 and posted a 1.95 ERA in 27.1 innings. Outfielder Derrick Workman hit .346 and Brandon Barker turned in a 3-0 record with a 3.91 ERA. Belmont's Greg Brody, FGCU's Ricky Knapp and Stetson's Austin Perez rounded out the All-Freshmen Team.
Play at the A-Sun Championship begins on Wednesday with the top-seeded Hatters facing the sixth-seeded Bruins at Noon ET. No. 2 Jacksonville takes on No. 5 ETSU in a match-up of two RPI top-50 schools at 4 p.m. In the nightcap, Kennesaw State tangles with the defending champs Mercer at 8 p.m. All contests for the A-Sun Championship will air free of charge on ASun.TV