BULLDOGS WIN THREE MAJOR AWARDS, PLACE SIX ON ALL-NEC TEAMS
LAKEWOOD, N.J. – Led by Northeast Conference Player of the Year Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.), the Bryant University baseball team took home three major awards and placed six players on the All-NEC teams, the league announced on Wednesday night at the annual pre-tournament banquet.
One of the greatest players in program history, Brown becomes the first player in program history to earn conference player of the year honors. He also becomes the first player in program history since 1998 to earn the top league honor. Freshman AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) was named the NEC Rookie of the Year, keeping the honor with the Bulldogs for the second-straight year. Head coach Steve Owens was named the NEC Coach of the Year for the second-straight year after guiding the Black and Gold to the just the second 40-win season in NEC history.
Brown was also named First Team All-NEC at third base, the fourth-straight year he has earned All-NEC honors. Joining him on the first team were sophomore center fielder Carl Anderson (Sudbury, Mass.), senior starting pitcher Peter Kelich (Jackson, N.J.) and senior closer Salvatore Lisanti (Bronx, N.Y.). Sophomore utility player Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) and junior starter Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) were both named to the second team.
The 2010 NEC Rookie of the Year, Brown caps his impressive career with the league's top honor this spring. He's currently hitting .365 with 16 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 40 RBI, 42 runs scored, 43 walks and 21 stolen bases. Brown is the only player in the NEC to have 40+ RBI and 40+ runs scored this season. In league play, Brown hit .361 but posted an impressive .540 on-base percentage. He's currently fourth in batting average, fifth in hits, fourth in runs scored, fourth in total bases and fourth in stolen bases. In his career, Brown is Bryant's all-time leader in doubles (71) and is third all-time in hits (265).
Anderson earns his first postseason honor after turning in a dominant spring at the plate. Heading into the conference tournament, he's second on the team with a .339 average and leads the team with 43 RBI. Anderson has also scored 35 runs and stolen 19 bases. In league play, he hit .343 with 28 RBI, 11 stolen bases and .430 on-base percentage. Anderson was ninth in average, fourth in RBI and fifth in stolen bases.
Last year's NEC Pitcher of the Year, Kelich earns his second-straight First Team All-NEC selection this spring. Bryant's Friday starter all year long, Kelich has posted a 7-3 record and a 2.07 ERA heading into the conference tournament. In 87 innings, he's allowed just 66 hits, has walked only 17 and has struck out 77. Kelich went 5-1 with a 1.76 ERA and struck out 47 batters in eight league starts. He is currently second in the league in ERA, fifth in wins, fourth in innings pitched, second in strikeouts and second in opponents batting average. On April 6, Kelich became Bryant's all-time winningest pitcher when he picked up his 27th career victory.
For the second-straight year Lisanti is the league's top closer. In his second year as Bryant's fireman, Lisanti once again put up dominant numbers, posting a 1-2 record with nine saves in 21 appearances heading into the conference tournament. He's allowed just six runs (four earned) on 17 hits in 25.2 innings, posting a 1.40 ERA and a .193 opposing batting average. In league play, Lisanti appeared in 12 games, allowing runs in just one outing. He picked up seven saves and allowed just nine hits. Heading into the league tournament, he sits one save shy of becoming just the third pitcher in program history to record 20 career saves.
One of Bryant's most versatile players this spring, St. George earned his first postseason honor. After starting the season in the outfield, St. George has seen time at first base and second base as the season has worn on. He hit .304 in 52 games, 34 starts, with eight doubles, a triple, a home run, 28 RBI and 23 runs scored. St. George was even better in league play, hitting .368 with 18 RBI and a .408 on-base percentage. He was even more valuable coming off the bench as he hit .444 (4-for-9) in pinch-hitting situations.
Arguably the best pitcher in the conference over the last month and a half of the season, Schlitter picks up his first conference honor. Entering this weekend's tournament, Schlitter is a league-best 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 72.1 innings. He's struck out 66, walked just 14 and teams are hitting just .210 against him. Schlitter was nearly untouchable in league play, posting a perfect 7-0 record and a 0.81 ERA. He didn't allow more than a run in any of his seven league starts, struck out 39, walked just nine and held opponents to a .169 average.
In just his third year at helm, Owens guided the Black and Gold to their third-ever 40-win season and the first since the 2008 season on the way to their third NEC regular-season title in four years. Under his tutelage, Bryant won a program-record 19 games during the month of April, earned the first national ranking in NEC history when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 30 by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and an NEC-record 27 league games. In three years, Owens' has posted a 103-59-1 record overall and an even more impressive 70-25 record in NEC games. He has now been named conference coach of the year eight times in his career – 2 NEC, 2 MAAC, 4 SUNYAC.
The top-seeded Bulldogs open play in their first-ever NEC tournament on Thursday, May 23 when they face fourth-seeded LIU Brooklyn in the first game of the tournament at 12:00 p.m.