The right candidate was under Middle Tennessee State's nose all along.
The Blue Raiders conducted a national search for their new head baseball coach after Steve Peterson retired on July 5, and today they announced that Peterson's long-time assistant, Jim McGuire, has been elevated to head coach.
MTSU did not handle the end of the search with an abundance of grace. After Liberty's Jim Toman withdrew his name from the mix last week, the Blue Raiders offered the job to Arkansas State coach Tommy Raffo earlier this week. Raffo turned it down, electing to stay put at Arkansas State, so MTSU went back to McGuire, who knows the program inside and out after 20 years on Peterson's staff.
"We had a thorough process that allowed us to talk with some of the most accomplished baseball coaches in the country," MTSU director of athletics Chris Massaro said in a release. "We were able to develop an outstanding pool of candidates that were interested in this job, which is a testimony to the work of Coach Peterson and Coach McGuire.
"From the beginning, I knew the great qualities of Coach McGuire, and he was able to demonstrate them further during the interview process. I am confident he will lead us to national prominence and a trip to Omaha." [...] Continue Reading »
BY PETER WARDELL
Stats reflect last week’s performance: July 23-29.
1. Sean Hagan, lhp, Falmouth Commodores (Sr., St. John’s)
Statistics: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 1 GS, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K
Coming off a nine-inning no-decision last week versus Wareham, Hagan ensured the victory this time around, throwing a complete-game, one-hit shutout under drizzly rain at Brewster. The rising senior was nearly flawless, carrying a perfect game into the eighth inning and no-hit bid into the ninth before a bloop single broke it up for good.
“Obviously he had great stuff, but that was a game that was pitched,” said Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy. “Everything was working for him. Everything landed for strikes and he kept hitters off balance. It was the epitome of pitching.”
Added Hagan: “I typically struggle in the first inning and give up a hit early. For the most part though, I am able to get into grooves and that’s kind of the way I felt right away.”
2. Jeff Thompson, rhp, Bourne Braves (Jr., Louisville)
Statistics: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 GS, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K
Thompson, a rising junior from Louisville, was equally impressive Sunday night, tossing a six-inning no-hitter with nine strikeouts in a game called early due to weather. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound righthander, who sits in the low 90s with his fastball and mixes in a quality changeup and slider, was dominant from the onset, striking out the first four Harwich hitters before issuing his first walk. It was the first no-hitter in CCBL play since Y-D’s Jordan Pries tossed one in 2010.
3. Kyle Schwarber, lf, Wareham Gatemen (So., Indiana)
Statistics: .550/.609/.900 (11-for-20), 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, 1-for-1 SB
Schwarber, a rising sophomore from Indiana, has been a key contributor for the Gatemen this summer, leading the team with a .331 batting average and 30 RBIs. Last week, the 19-year-old hit safely in all five of the team’s games, collecting extra-base hits in four.
“Kyle does everything for this team,” Wareham manager Cooper Farris said. “He works hard at his hitting. He comes to play every day and he’s just had a great summer.”
4. Sean Manaea, lhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks (Jr., Indiana State)
Statistics: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 1 GS, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K
Before starting for the Western Division in the CCBL all-star game on Saturday, Manaea turned in yet another impressive outing, tossing six scoreless frames with just two hits and nine strikeouts, to earn his fourth straight appearance on the Hot Sheet. On the summer, opposing hitters are now batting just .134 against the rising junior, who hasn’t issued a walk in more than 26 innings.
5. Tony Kemp, 2b, Cotuit Kettleers (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Statistics: .529/.619/.941 (9-for-17), 3 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, 2-for-3 SB
With an eight-game win streak, the Cotuit Kettleers have ridden to the top of the Cape League standings with just a week left in the regular season. Kemp, a rising junior from Vanderbilt who made an appearance on the first Cape League Hot Sheet, has been one of the team’s top performers with his well-rounded game. As of July 30, the 5-foot-6, 165-pound second baseman was riding an eight-game hitting streak while ranking first in the CCBL in stolen bases and second in walks.
“Tony gives you lots of different looks,” Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. “He takes a lot of pitches, but when he does decide to swing the bat, the ball comes off it good. There’s a lot of dynamite in that package. He’s awfully fun to coach.”
6. Drew Dosch, 3b, Falmouth Commodores (Jr., Youngstown State)
Statistics: .556/.600/.833 (10-for-18), 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB
A first-team all-Horizon League honoree at Youngstown State this spring, Dosch has been one of the most consistent sluggers on the Cape this summer, leading the league with 11 doubles, while ranking near the top in batting average, home runs and RBIs. This past week, the rising junior continued his run of success, posting multi-hit games in all four contests.
“Drew’s just continuing to do what he’s done all summer,” Trundy said. “He’s had good at-bat after good at-bat and has swung away very few over the course of the summer.”
7. Tyler Horan, dh, Wareham Gatemen (Jr., Virginia Tech)
Statistics: .421/.476/.947 (8-for-19), 3 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
Horan, a rising junior from Virginia Tech, has established himself as one of the league’s top power hitters over the past month, slugging his way atop the home run leaderboard (10) with three more this past week. A starting outfielder for the West in this past weekend’s all-star game, Horan has really made strides with his approach and hitting ability this summer, allowing him to further tap into his great raw power.
“Tyler’s really learned some discipline. He’s a strong kid and really motivated,” Farris said. “He was a football player and hasn’t played a whole lot of baseball—I think his best days are ahead of him.”
8. Ben Lively, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Jr., Central Florida)
Statistics: 0-1, 2.57, 7 IP, 1 GS, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 15 K
While other pitchers around the league may have posted better overall outings, it’s tough to find one as dominant as Lively’s 15-strikeout performance Friday night against Harwich. Backed by a low-90s fastball and sharp slider, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound righthander has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the summer, but has failed to put together complete outings. While he still wound up with the loss, the rising junior certainly impressed.
“He commanded the zone better than he has,” said Y-D manager Scott Pickler. “His fastball has some run to it. He threw his curveball and slider when he needed to and just pounded the zone and challenged hitters inside.”
As the Cape season nears its end, more players continue to end their summer campaigns. Wareham righthander Konner Wade (Arizona) and Hyannis righthander Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) both shut down for the summer after inning appearances in Saturday’s all-star game, while Bourne slugger Mason Robbins (Southern Mississippi) also made the trip home. On the other hand, outfielder Michael Lorenzen (Cal State Fullerton) joined the Brewster Whitecaps on Tuesday after spending the summer with Team USA.
Harvard coach Joe Walsh died Tuesday morning at the age of 58. Walsh coached the Crimson for 17 seasons, posting a 347-388-2 record, and had a 569-564-3 record overall including 15 seasons at Division III Suffolk (Mass.), his alma mater.
Walsh also was the pitching coach for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League from 1991-98, where he mentored the likes of Ben Sheets and Barry Zito, both on the '98 club. Former Walsh players such as Peter Woodfork (senior vice president, baseball operations, Major League Baseball), David Forst (assistant general manager, Athletics) and Ben Crockett (farm director, Red Sox) have gone on to front-office positions in professional baseball as well.
Walsh's Crimson teams won five Ivy League championships and made regional trips from 1997-1999 as well as 2002 and 2005.
In a press release, athletic director Bob Scalise said, "This is a tragic day for everyone associated with Harvard athletics, Massachusetts baseball and the larger baseball community. Joe's passion for the game redefined success in the Ivy League and he positively impacted the lives of so many people. To say that he will be missed would be an understatement."
Harvard had not yet named a replacement.
Mark Hogan, the winningest coach in Southeast Missouri State history, is retiring after 18 seasons. Pitching coach and ex-big leaguer Steve Bieser will serve as interim coach for the 2013 season, and a national search will be conducted at the end of the season. Bieser, an alumnus of the school whose son Cole is a rising senior at SEMO, will be a candidate for the permanent job at that time.
Hogan compiled a 526-456-1 record at SEMO, winning the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title in 2002 and winning the conference tournament in 1998 and '02—the only two trips to regionals in program history. The Redhawks reached the OVC tournament title game seven times and made the tourney in each of Hogan's 18 seasons.
"Coach Hogan has been an extremely successful baseball coach for Southeast Missouri State University for the past 18 years," school president Kenneth W. Dobbins said in a release. "We sincerely appreciate his tenure, the legacy he provided for our baseball program, and most importantly, we thank him for his dedication to the success of our student-athletes. Many young men had great collegiate baseball experiences due to Coach Hogan's expertise, and several have gone on to professional careers. We certainly congratulate him for an outstanding career and wish him the best in his retirement." [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America has confirmed that third baseman Trey Williams has decommitted from Pepperdine and instead will play at JC of the Canyons (Calif.) this upcoming season.
Williams was selected by the Cardinals in the 11th round out of Valencia (Calif.) High School, which is a mile away from JC of the Canyons, a member of the California Community College Athletic Association. This past season, the Cougars were 20-16-1 under head coach Chris Cota.
At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Williams has above-average righthanded power potential with natural bat speed and quick-twitch athleticism. He was ranked No. 99 on Baseball America's predraft BA500 and was one of 12 players in the top 100 to go unsigned at the July 13 deadline.
Williams will now be eligible for the 2013 draft.
BY PETER WARDELL
Stats reflect performance from July 16 to July 22.
1. Sean Manaea, lhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks (Jr., Indiana State)
Statistics: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 GS, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 15 K
After appearances on the past two Cape League Hot Sheets, Manaea forced his way atop this week’s list with the top pitching performance of the summer. Facing a tough Falmouth squad Thursday night, the rising junior allowed just two hits while striking out 15 over seven scoreless innings. What’s more, Manaea has posted an astounding 37-0 strikeout-walk ratio over his last three outings (20 IP). Not including Manaea, only three other pitchers have amassed such a strikeout total over the entire summer.
“He’s getting better every start,” Hyannis manager Chad Gassman said. “He’s just not messing around at all anymore. Once he gets two strikes, he just knows he’s going to get them out.”
On Friday, Manaea was named the starting pitcher for the Western Division in this Saturday’s all-star game. [...] Continue Reading »
William & Mary hired Jamie Pinzino as its new head coach Monday. Pinzino spent 2012 as the Tribe's pitching coach under Frank Leoni, who resigned after the season.
Pinzino is a proven winner who successfully shepherded Bryant from Division II to D-I during his five seasons as head coach. In Bryan't second season at the D-I level in 2010, Pinzino earned Northeast Conference coach of the year honors after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-7 record in conference play, taking home the NEC regular-season title (they were not yet eligible for the conference tournament).
But he was forced to resign under bizarre circumstances after the season. Following a postseason banquet, Pinzino and assistant Andy Koocher were arrested for fighting with each other on the field in an alcohol-fueled incident. [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America has learned that Maryland has hired Kansas State associate head coach John Szefc as its new head coach, filling the last remaining vacant head coaching job at a power-conference school this summer. An official announcement could come by Thursday.
During his 22-year coaching career, Szefc has proven himself as a top hitting coach and recruiter, and had success as a head coach. He spent seven years as the head coach at Marist from 1996-2002, leading the Red Foxes to three regionals. From 2003-08 he served as Louisiana-Lafayette's top assistant, running the Cajuns' aggressive offense and leading their recruiting efforts. He spent 2009 and '10 on the coaching staff at Kansas, then joined Brad Hill's staff at Kansas State before the 2011 season.
A native of Middletown, N.Y., Szefc now heads back to the East Coast, where he'll be much closer to his family. He takes over for Erik Bakich, who left Maryland after three seasons to assume the head job at Michigan.
The Terrapins made strides under Bakich, winning 32 games in 2012 (their most since 2002) and finishing 32nd in the RPI. Though Maryland missed the ACC tournament, it broke into Baseball America's Top 25 early in the season for the first time ever, and made a serious run at its first regional since 1971.
With a cash-strapped athletic department, Maryland isn't an easy place to win, as its facilities and operating budget lag way behind the ACC's powers. But Bakich recruited well and left a solid foundation in place for Szefc to work with. And Szefc has proven he knows how to win, even with modest resources.
BY PETER WARDELL
Editor’s note: Our latest installment of the Cape League hot sheet encompasses the last two weeks—statistics reflect performance from July 2 through July 15.
1. Brandon Trinkwon, ss, Hyannis Harbor Hawks (Jr., UC Santa Barbara)
Statistics: .439/.468/.789 (25-for-57), 16 R, 5 2B, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, 2-for-2 SB
Even before going 2-for-5 with a home run and a double last night, Trinkwon had been without question the hottest hitter on the Cape over the past two weeks. With eight multi-hit showings in his last 12 games, the rising junior has become a staple at the top of the lineup for the Harbor Hawks, showing tremendous patience and impressive pure hitting ability.
“He’s a very mature hitter,” Hyannis manager Chad Gassman said. “I’ve seen many times where he’s down in the count and he just clears it and goes back to work, looking for his pitch to hit. I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that he can forget the last pitch and go on to the next one so well.”
“I’m just trying to stay patient,” Trinkwon said. “I’m seeing the ball well, the bat feels good in my hands and I’m trying to relax at the plate. I dropped sizes in wood bat a couple weeks ago and that’s helped me get around on pitches much better—I’m starting to be able to barrel up balls pretty consistently.” [...] Continue Reading »
South Carolina coach Ray Tanner will take over as the school's athletic director, and associate head coach Chad Holbrook will be elevated to head coach. Baseball America has confirmed local media reports that Tanner will be announced as AD on Friday, while Holbrook's announcement is scheduled for Monday.
A strong case can be made that Tanner is the premier coach of his generation, and he is leaving the dugout at the top of his profession. Tanner led the Gamecocks to the College World Series Finals in each of the last three years, taking home the 2010 and '11 national titles and finishing as runner-up this year. That stretch established records with 22 consecutive NCAA tournament wins and 12 straight CWS wins.
In 16 seasons at South Carolina, Tanner led the Gamecocks to six College World Series, three SEC championships, six SEC Eastern Division titles and 13 straight regionals. South Carolina has also won 40 or more games in each of the last 13 years, and is one of just two schools in the nation to make at least 10 super regionals during that stretch.
Tanner is 738-316 in his career at South Carolina, and his .700 winning percentage is second-highest all-time among SEC coaches. In 25 seasons as a head coach (including nine seasons at his alma mater, North Carolina State), Tanner is 1,033-489-3 (.699). [...] Continue Reading »
Mike Zunino's trophy case continued to fill up on Friday, as he added the Golden Spikes Award to his Baseball America College Player of the Year Award and his Dick Howser Trophy. The Florida catcher received the Golden Spikes Award from USA Baseball in a live broadcast on MLB Network, beating out fellow finalists Carlos Rodon of N.C. State and Mark Appel of Stanford.
Zunino, who signed with the Mariners for $4 million as the No. 3 overall pick, hit .322/.394/.669 with 19 homers, 28 doubles and 67 RBIs as a junior for the Gators this spring. And he did it while starting 62 games behind the plate, providing strong defense and great leadership.
Zunino is just the third full-time catcher to win the GSA, joining future big league stars Jason Varitek and Buster Posey.
"I'm thrilled. Just be be in the same category as (the previous winners), and to be in the same presence as Mark Appel and Carlos Rodon, it's just a privilege to be here," Zunino said on the MLB Network broadcast.
The last two days have brought a pair of coaching hires as well as the week's second notable coaching retirement. Appalachian State hired former Oklahoma State assistant Billy Jones as its head coach, while Morehead State hired Louisburg (N.C.) head coach Mike McGuire. And Middle Tennessee State coach Steve Peterson retired after 25 years.
Jones has long been considered a standout recruiter and a top up-and-coming head coach prospect in college baseball circles. He has 18 years of coaching experience, including the last eight as Oklahoma State's recruiting coordinator, preceded by three years on the staff at North Carolina State. In Stillwater, he coached the hitters and helped lead the Cowboys to eight straight winning seasons, six regionals, a super regional and a Big 12 tournament title. His work on the recruiting trail helped land 31 players who went on to be drafted. His Division I coaching career began with two seasons at Oregon State in 1999-2000, followed by one year at Arizona State. He also has head coaching experience at Green River (Wash.) CC in 1997-98.
Jones replaces Chris Pollard, who left for the head job at Duke after leading ASU to its first regional this spring. [...] Continue Reading »
BY PETER WARDELL
Editor’s Note: BA intern Peter Wardell is spending the summer in the Cape Cod League, where he will take a weekly look at which players are hot and have a report here on the College Blog. This first CCBL hot sheet takes a look at the top performers up to this point of the summer season. Statistics reflect performance through Monday, July 2. Hot sheets from here on out will look at weekly performances.
1. Phillip Ervin, cf, Harwich Mariners (Jr., Samford)
By The Numbers: .364/.462/.873, 8 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 17 R, 16 RBI, 6 BB, 8 SO, 5-for-5 SB
Ervin has gotten off to a torrid pace on the Cape this summer. Through just 15 games, the rising junior has mashed a league-leading eight home runs, a number that has already eclipsed the season-ending totals of both the 2011 and 2010 CCBL home run champions. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Ervin doesn’t possess a typical power hitter’s frame, instead utilizing lightning-quick hands, good bat control and patience at the plate. “He’s a very disciplined hitter,” said Harwich manager Steve Englert. “He has a great approach and is just playing relaxed.”
While it’s his offensive outburst that has garnered the attention of scouts thus far, Ervin’s performance in center field has been notable as well. He is an above-average runner with good instincts and a strong, accurate arm. He’s displayed adequate route running and good range, giving him the potential for five average to above-average tools. [...] Continue Reading »
San Jose State coach Sam Piraro announced his retirement today after 25 years as the Spartans' head coach. Associate head coach Mark O'Brien, who played for Piraro in 1991-92 and joined Piraro's staff last year after 10 seasons as the head coach at Santa Clara, was elevated to interim head coach while the school conducts a national search.
Piraro, the winningest coach in school history, went 806-632-6 at San Jose State, leading the Spartans to 18 winning seasons, two regionals (2000 and '02) and a trip to the 2000 College World Series. A San Jose native who was an infielder at San Jose State in 1971-72, Piraro began his coaching career in 1974 as SJSU's junior varsity coach. He spent seven seasons at Mission (Calif.) CC before becoming the Spartans' head coach. More than 50 of his former players are baseball coaches at the high school, community college or four-year college levels.
"I have been extremely honors to be the San Jose State University head baseball coach for the past 25 years," Piraro said in a release. "I have been blessed by being associated with wonderful young men and loyal assistant coaches. I have established a lifetime of friendships along the way."
Brigham Young has named alumnus Mike Littlewood, the head coach at Division II Dixie (Utah) State, as its new head coach, replacing Vance Law.
Littlewood, whose son Marcus was a 2010 second-round pick of the Seattle Mariners, posted a .702 winning percentage in 16 seasons at Dixie State, as the program moved up from junior college to NCAA Division II. Dixie State won the 2004 NJCAA World Series under his guidance.
Littlewood played third base at BYU from 1985-88 and was an all-Western Athletic Conference choice in 1988. He takes over a Cougars program that has moved into the West Coast Conference for all sports while BYU football plays as an independent. Brigham Young has not earned a spot in the NCAA tournament since 2002.
Michigan has hired Erik Bakich away from Maryland to be its new baseball coach, replacing the fired Rich Maloney. A day later, Maryland promoted assistant Eric Milton to interim head coach.
The Wolverines tried to hire Scott Stricklin away from Kent State but Stricklin decided to stay at his alma mater. The Wolverines then turned their attention to Bakich, a former East Carolina outfielder and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt for seven years. His three seasons with the Terrapins program were his first as a head coach.
Bakich's Maryland teams got progressively better, finishing 32-24 this season with a club that won a series at UCLA and cracked BA's Top 25 rankings for the first time ever. However, the Terrapins went 10-20 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, failing to make regionals, and were just 20-70 in the league in Bakich's tenure, and 70-98 overall. [...] Continue Reading »
OMAHA—Ray Tanner stood silently in front of the third-base dugout at TD Ameritrade Park, watching Arizona celebrate its College World Series Finals sweep of his South Carolina team.
Finally, Tanner ducked into the tunnel and made his way toward the postgame press conference.
"Golly," he said wistfully, as he walked up the tunnel. "If we'd just gotten a couple of hits, we'd have evened this thing up."
The Gamecocks had their chances in the late innings of Game Two of the Finals, which they lost 4-1. After tying the score at 1-1 in the seventh, South Carolina had the go-ahead run at second with two outs, but Tanner English flew out to center to strand the runner. The next inning, the Gamecocks had the go-ahead run at third with two outs, but Joey Pankake struck out to end the frame.
And after Arizona scored three runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead, the Gamecocks loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the frame, but English lined out and Grayson Greiner flew out to end the game, stranding all three runners.
"I knew going into this thing we were playing a team that had hit about .330 on the year. We were hitting probably .270 going in," Tanner said. "And I think we were averaging 3.75 runs in the postseason; we were only averaging three here in the College World Series. And we're playing in the championship series. Eventually, that's going to get you. And in the end, if you had to put your finger on one thing, it's run output. We just didn't get enough runs on the board." [...] Continue Reading »
Arizona has beaten South Carolina, 4-1, to capture its fourth national championship, and its first since 1986.
The Wildcats broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the ninth against all-time College World Series wins leader Matt Price. Brandon Dixon, a .240 hitter who entered the game as a defensive substitution at first base in the 6th, drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI double down the left-field line. That chased Price and left runners on second and third. Two batters later, freshman Trent Gilbert provided two crucial insurance runs with a two-run single to right.
The Wildcats shined in all phases of the game during the postseason, and they finished the NCAA tournament a perfect 10-0. They earned this championship by knocking off the two-time defending national champions. The Wildcats needed to beat Michael Roth or Price in order to end the South Carolina dynasty; Roth turned in 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball before handing off to Price, with Arizona leading 1-0. The Gamecocks manufactured a run in the seventh to take Roth off the hook, but that was all the scoring Arizona starter James Farris would allow in 7 2/3 stellar innings—in his first start since regionals, more than three weeks ago.
The Gamecocks battled until the very end, loading the bases with one out in the ninth against freshman closer Mathew Troupe. But Troupe got Tanner Enlish to line out, and Grayson Greiner to fly out to right to end it, setting off a dog pile behind the mound.
I'll have plenty more on Arizona's championship after the postgame festivities and interviews.
John Manuel and I made our picks for the Finals in a podcast this weekend (you can download that here). After we both went 7-6 in our picks through bracket play, we both took Arizona to win the Finals opener, but now our picks diverge.
John is taking Arizona to complete the sweep today; I'm going with South Carolina to win today and tomorrow, completing the three-peat. John thinks Roth angered the baseball gods by admitting that he doesn't really like baseball in the pre-Finals press conference; he expects karma to bite Roth and the Gamecocks tonight. I simply refuse to bet against Roth and Matt Price in the College World Series—those guys always come through when it matters most. I think it makes sense for Arizona to start James Farris today, giving ace Kurt Heyer an extra day of rest in case the series goes three games. But Farris hasn't pitched in three weeks, and Andy Lopez admitted yesterday he was somewhat concerned about Farris being rusty. The Wildcats figure to need their artichokes down in the bullpen at some point today.
If Arizona manages to beat Roth and/or Price to capture the national title, hats off to the Wildcats, because they will have earned the championship against the ultimate champions. But I can't see South Carolina going down without a serious fight.
John's Pick: Arizona
Aaron's Pick: South Carolina
OMAHA—Another great season of college baseball is almost in the books, so I want to take a few moments to thank the players and coaches who make covering the sport such a joy. College baseball is close-knit community, and I am very fortunate to cover a sport where teams enjoy dealing with media, rather than viewing interactions with the press as a burden.
It's time to roll out my annual All-Fitt team—the players I most enjoyed watching and/or interviewing in 2012:
C: Tyler Heineman, UCLA
There was a ton of competition for this spot—I hated omitting North Carolina's Jacob Stallings, Stony Brook's Pat Cantwell, Creighton's Anthony Bemboom and Clemson's Spencer Kieboom(!). But UCLA's strong schedule and proximity to my home meant I watched the Bruins more than any other team this year, so I came to really appreciate Heineman's leadership, catch-and-throw skills, grit and personality. Florida State's Sherman Johnson told me during the CWS that Heineman was cracking all kinds of jokes when Johnson stepped into the box against the Bruins—that's a guy who has fun playing baseball, and it shows.
1B: Matt Snyder, Mississippi
Snyder hit some of college baseball's most majestic home runs this season, several of which set off wild beer showers in the student section beyond right field at Swayze Field. That made for some quality YouTube clips, and I also enjoyed chatting with Snyder and teammate Bobby Wahl during my swing through SEC country this year. They seemed like a fun-loving pair. [...] Continue Reading »
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