CLEARWATER, Fla. – East Carolina junior Evan Kruczynski and freshman Dwanya Williams-Sutton have been named First-Team All-American Athletic Conference the league announced Monday afternoon, while redshirt junior Travis Watkins was tabbed as a second-teamer.
With the Kruczynski and Williams-Sutton’s selections, the Pirates have had at least one player selected to a first-team for 13-straight years (2004 to present).
Kruczynski heads into The American Baseball Championships with a 6-1 record and a league second-best 1.95 ERA. The lefty, who has tallied 12 quality starts (22 career) ranks among the league leaders in pickoffs (first), ERA (third), fewest runs allowed (third), fewest earned runs allowed (fourth), Ks looking (seventh), wins (t6th), fewest walks (ninth) and total strikeouts (ninth). During the season he was named to the Golden Spike Midseason Award and National College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher-of-the-Year Watch lists, and just last week was named a semifinalist for the Gregg Olson Award. In 14 starts, he has registered 77 strikeouts to 18 walks, while allowing 27 runs (21 earned) on 88 hits in 97.0 innings.
Williams-Sutton led The American in batting average (.372), slugging percentage (.601) and on-base percentage (.463) as a freshman. He became the first Pirate since Brian Cavanaugh to lead a conference in average (.382) back in 2005 when ECU was a member of Conference USA. The freshman outfielder started 47 of 48 games, belted five home runs, laced four triples and 11 doubles (20 extra base hits), while scoring 28 runs, driving in 27 and swiped 6 of 9 bases. Williams-Sutton earned American Player-of-the-Week honors on May 23, took home a pair of league honor roll selections (Feb. 29 and May 9) and tallied six game-winning RBI with four coming in league play.
Watkins, one of three team co-captains, batted .315 on the season which ranked sixth in The American. The four-time Johnny Bench Award candidate and 2015 semifinalist, leads the Pirates in doubles (14) and runs (36), while ranking second in RBI (31) and total bases (87). He has hit three home runs, tallied five game winning RBI (13 career) and has registered at least one hit in 45 of 54 games. Against Memphis (April 16), he laced three doubles in the Pirates 8-2 win, which hadn’t been seen since 2011 (Trent Whitehead). Watkins ranks among the league leaders in runners thrown out (third), hits (fourth), on-base percentage (sixth) and doubles (t6th).
The Pirates (34-19-1) will open the 2016 American Baseball Championships on Wednesday, May 25 at Bright House Field against No. 7 seed USF (23-31) with an 11 a.m. (ET) scheduled first pitch.
UConn outfielder Joe DeRoche-Duffin, who finished the regular season as the American Athletic Conference’s leader in home runs and runs batted in, was chosen as the conference’s Player of the Year by the league’s eight head coaches.
UConn pitcher Anthony Kay, who went 5-0 in conference games, was named the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. Houston first baseman Joe Davis, who ranked in the league’s top three in hits, home runs and RBIs, was named The American’s Rookie Position Player of the Year. UConn’s Tim Cate, the league leader in strikeouts per game, was chosen as the Rookie Pitcher of the Year. UConn coach Jim Penders, who finished the regular season with a nine-game winning streak, was tabbed by his peers as the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
DeRoche-Duffin emerged as the most prolific power hitter in The American in his senior year as he finished the regular season with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs to lead the conference. He had 53 hits, including 29 that went for extra bases, and finished second in the conference with a .574 slugging percentage. DeRoche-Duffin becomes the first UConn player to be named as a conference player of the year since 2011, when George Springer won the Big East’s top honor. He enters the postseason one home run shy of The American’s single-season record of 18, set last year by Memphis’ Tucker Tubbs.
Kay became the second straight UConn player to be named as The American’s Pitcher of the Year after Carson Cross took last year’s honor. Kay enters the postseason with a 7-2 record, a 2.47 earned-run average and 97 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. He was particularly effective in conference games as he went 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in eight starts against league opponents.
Davis was chosen as The American’s Rookie Position Player of the Year after he anchored the Cougars’ lineup as a true freshman. He finished the regular season ranked third in The American in batting (.336) and home runs (11), second in RBIs (51) and doubles (17), and was the conference leader in total bases (125).
Cate was tabbed as The American Rookie Pitcher of the Year as he went 3-1 with a 2.87 earned-run average in 11 starts for the Huskies. He struck out 86 batters in 69.0 innings, an average of 11.22 per nine innings, which ranks as the best mark in the conference.
Penders was named American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, and earned his fourth conference coach of the year accolade, after he led the Huskies to 33 wins in the regular-season and a third-place finish in the conference standings as UConn went 14-9 in The American. The Huskies led the league in runs scored in the regular season (339) and enter the postseason as the winners of their last nine games. UConn has gone 20-7 record in its last 27.
UConn had a league-leading eight players chosen to the all-conference first or second team, while Tulane, the 2016 regular-season conference champion, had seven players recognized. Kay was the only repeat selection from the 2015 all-conference first team, joining former USF pitcher Jimmy Herget and former Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ as The American’s only two-time first-team choices in conference history.
2016 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE BASEBALL AWARDS
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Joe DeRoche-Duffin, OF, UConn (Sr., Santa Ana, Calif.)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Anthony Kay, LHP, UConn (Jr., Stony Brook, N.Y.)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE POSITION PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Joe Davis, 1B, Houston (Fr., Austin, Texas)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Tim Cate, LHP, UConn (Fr., Manchester, Conn.)
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
Jim Penders, UConn
|P||Andrew Zellner||Cincinnati||Jr.||Farmersville, Ohio||7-4, 2.21 ERA, 4 CG 101.2 IP, 63 K, .222 OBA|
|P||Anthony Kay 1||UConn||Jr.||Stony Brook, N.Y.||7-2, 2.47 ERA,1 CG, 98.1 IP, 97 K, .211 OBA|
|P||Evan Kruczynski||East Carolina||Jr.||Franklin, Wis.||6-1, 1.95 ERA, 97.0 IP, 77 K, .244 OBA|
|P||Emerson Gibbs||Tulane||Sr.||River Ridge, La.||6-2, 2.24 ERA, 2 CG, 96.1 IP, 78 K, .218 OBA|
|RP||Nick Hernandez||Houston||Jr.||Missouri City, Texas||3-0, 1.21 ERA, 8 SV, 44.2 IP, 53 K, .157 OBA|
|C||Jake Rogers||Tulane||Jr.||Canyon, Texas||.255, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 8 2B, 41 R, 11 SB|
|1B||Joe Davis||Houston||Fr.||Austin, Texas||.336, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 17 2B, 29 R, .561 SLG|
|2B||Kevin Merrell||USF||So.||Odessa, Fla.||.309, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 4 2B, 2 3B, 16 SB|
|SS||Stephen Alemais 2||Tulane||Jr.||Bronx, N.Y.||.320 1 HR, 24 RBI, 12 2B, 1 3B, 34 R, 16 SB|
|3B||Willy Yahn 2||UConn||So.||Sharon, Conn.||.326, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 19 2B, 3 3B, 42 R, 7 SB|
|OF||Joe DeRoche-Duffin||UConn||Sr.||Santa Ana, Calif.||.262, 17 HR, 52 RBI, 12 2B, 42 R, .574 SLG|
|OF||Dwanya Williams-Sutton||East Carolina||Fr.||Wilson, N.C.||.372, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 11 2B, 4 3B, .601 SLG|
|OF||Corey Julks||Houston||So.||Friendswood, Texas||.341, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 10 2B, 1 3B, 33 R, 9 SB|
|DH||Jeremy Montalbano||Tulane||Jr.||Katy, Texas||.289, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 13 2B, 2 3B, .537 SLG|
|UTY||Connor Wong *||Houston||So.||Pearland, Texas||.296, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 11 2B, 1 3B, 46 R, 9 SB|
|P||Robby Howell||UCF||Jr.||Fort White, Fla.||7-3, 1.91 ERA, 94.1 IP, 62 K, .208 OBA|
|P||Tim Cate||UConn||Fr.||Manchester, Conn.||3-1, 2.87 ERA, 69.0 IP, 86 K, .193 OBA|
|P||Seth Romero 2||Houston||So.||West Columbia, Texas||5-4, 2.27 ERA, 87.1 IP, 102 K, .185 OBA|
|P||Brandon Lawson||USF||Jr.||Brooksville, Fla.||5-5, 2.49 ERA, 94.0 IP, 103 K, .220 OBA|
|P||Ross Massey||Tulane||Fr.||Baton Rouge, La.||9-3, 2.42 ERA, 81.2 IP, 47 K, .259 OBA|
|RP||Patrick Ruotolo||UConn||Jr.||Peabody, Mass.||2-1, 2.01 ERA, 9 SV, 31.1 IP, 41 K, .204 OBA|
|C||Travis Watkins||East Carolina||Jr.||Concord, N.C.||.315, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 14 2B, 36 R, .429 SLG|
|1B||Bobby Melley 1||UConn||Sr.||Barnstable, Mass.||.297, 9 HR, 49 RBI, 15 2B, 46 R, .498 SLG|
|2B||Brandon Grudzielanek||Memphis||Jr.||Prosper, Texas||.287, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 7 2B, 34 R, 9 SB|
|2B||Jake Willsey||Tulane||Jr.||Chestnut Hill, Mass.||.283, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 10 2B, 3 3B, .566 SLG|
|SS||Bryan Daniello||UConn||Sr.||Norwalk, Conn.||.258, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 10 2B, 2 3B, 10 SB|
|3B||Hunter Hope||Tulane||Jr.||Jupiter, Fla.||.275, 12 HR, 34 RBI, 9 2B, 1 3B, .518 SLG|
|OF||Jack Sundberg 2||UConn||Sr.||Mansfield, Conn.||.274, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 8 2B, 3 3B, 17 SB|
|OF||Jake Little 3||Memphis||Sr.||Franklin, Tenn.||.314, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 13 2B, 1 3B, 12 SB|
|OF||Darien Tubbs 2||Memphis||Jr.||Cookeville, Tenn.||.301, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 11 2B, 4 3B, 21 SB|
|DH||Sam Tolleson 2||UCF||Sr.||Houston, Texas||.243, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 6 2B, 16 R|