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Baseball sweeps NEC major awards on eve of NEC Tournament

Baseball sweeps NEC major awards on eve of NEC Tournament

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team won all four major awards and 11 players were named All-Northeast Conference as the league announced its year-end awards at the pre-tournament banquet Wednesday night at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn.

Senior Robby Rinn (Warwick, R.I.) was named the NEC Player of the Year, sophomore James Karinchak (Walden, N.Y.) was named the NEC Pitcher of the Year, freshman Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) was named the NEC Rookie of the Year and head coach Steve Owens was named the NEC Coach of the Year.

Rinn becomes the second player in program history to earn player of the year honors, Karinchak is the third-straight Bryant pitcher to win pitcher of the year honors and Angelini's rookie of the year accolade keeps the award in Smithfield for a fifth-straight year. The coach of the year honor is the fourth for Owens in his career.

The Bulldogs are the first team in NEC history to win all four major awards and their 11 all-conference selections are also a league record. Rinn, Karinchak and Angelini are joined on the first team by senior shortstop Dan Cellucci (Sudbury, Mass.), senior third baseman Zach Wood (Griswold, Conn.), junior DH Brandon Bingel (Peabody, Mass.), junior outfielder Matt Albanese (East Haddam, Conn.), freshman pitcher Steve Theetge (Cicero, N.Y.) and sophomore closer Justin Snyder (Georgetown, Mass.). Seniors Buck McCarthy (Saugus, Mass.) and AJ Zarozny (Shrewsbury, Mass.) were named to the second team.

Owens has guided the Bulldogs to one of the best seasons in program and NEC history this season. Bryant is 44-10, one win shy of tying the program record. It is the third 40-win season in the last four years for the Black and Gold and they are second in the country in victories and winning percentage. Owens also picked up his 200th career victory at Bryant and his 800th career win earlier this season.

Named the New England Player of the Year earlier in the day, Rinn joins Kevin Brown as the only NEC Player of the Years in program history. He won the NEC batting title with a .380 average and also leads the NEC in hits (81), doubles (24), RBI (57) and total bases (128). Rinn also ranks second in the league in runs scored (52), third in triples (4), third in OBP (.451) and third in slugging (.601). In 30 league games, Rinn hit .374 and scored a league-high 28 runs. He is currently riding a 50-game on-base streak and has reached safely in all but one game this season. It marks the third-straight year that Rinn has earned First Team All-NEC honors. 

The NEC Rookie of the Year last season, Karinchak picks up pitcher of the year honors this season after one of the most memorable regular seasons in program history. He finished the season 11-2 with a 2.21 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings. Karinchak led the NEC in wins and strikeouts and finished second in ERA and opponent batting average (.215). Against NEC foes, Karinchak was 7-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. His 11 wins tie a single-season program record, while his 97 strikeouts are a single-season program record. Karinchak struck out 10+ batters on three occasions, including a career-high 13 against George Mason.

Angelini becomes the fifth-straight Bulldog to win NEC Rookie of the Year honors. He hit .354 with eight doubles, three home runs, 25 RBI and 43 runs scored. Angelini also walked 22 times and was hit 11 times for a .467 OBP. He finished second in the NEC in OBP and fourth in hitting.  After splitting time over the first month of the season, Angelini won the starting job in right field when the Bulldogs took on Hartford on Mar. 23. Since, he has hit .384 with a .490 OBP. Angelini hit his first-career home run against then No. 22 Kentucky and has 18 multi-hit games this season.

Enjoying the best season of his career, Cellucci picks up his first All-NEC honor. He finished the regular season hitting .328 with seven doubles, three home runs, 30 RBI and 39 runs scored. Cellucci set career highs in average, home runs, RBI, runs scored and hits (61). Defensively, he has posted a .951 fielding percentage, committing just 11 errors in 224 chances. In NEC play, Cellucci tied for the team lead with a .384 average. He enjoyed a power surge in mid-May, hitting three home runs over the course of a four-game stretch.

Wood is also enjoying a career year on his way to first team honors at third base. He has set career-highs in average (.335), hits (54), doubles (8), home runs (6), RBI (35), runs (43) and OBP (.438). Wood ranks among the league leaders in hitting (9th), runs (5th), home runs (T-7th), OBP (4th) and slugging percentage (6th). He had a career-day at Boston College, collecting five hits and five RBI in Bryant's big win. Wood has played a strong defensive third base as well, posting a .921 fielding percentage.

Albanese picks up First Team All-NEC honors for the first time in his career following an incredible spring. He is hitting .366 with 13 doubles, 11 home runs, 52 RBI, 56 runs scored and 28 walks. Albanese ranks third in the NEC in hitting, fifth in hits, first in runs scored, second in RBI, second in home runs and second in total bases. Albanese has posted a .471 OBP and has struck out just 15 times in 183 at-bats. He hit two home runs in a game twice during the season and drove in a career-high six runs at Fairleigh Dickinson.

A two-way threat for the Bulldogs, Bingel picks up First Team All-NEC honors for the second-straight season after earning the recognition at third base last spring. His offensive numbers this season have been noteworthy as he is hitting .298 with 10 doubles, eight home runs, 40 RBI and 38 runs scored. Bingel's eight home runs are a career-high and all came in NEC play, tying him for the league lead in NEC games.

Bryant's final two first team honorees are two pitchers that have helped Bryant lead the league with a 3.17 ERA. The first is Theetge, a freshman lefty who is a perfect 8-0 on the season. He has pitched to a 2.83 ERA and has allowed one earned run or less in seven of his last eight starts. Theetge has tossed complete games in each of his last two starts, including a three-hit shutout against Mount St. Mary's. In league play, Theetge went 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA and limited opponents to a .216 average.

Snyder has solidified the backend of Bryant's bullpen this year, converting 9-of-10 save opportunities. He has made 23 appearances and is 2-2 with a 2.21 ERA and has 48 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings. Snyder has limited opponents to a .201 average and has allowed just six extra-base hits all season. In conference play, Snyder made 11 appearances, picked up six saves and posted a 1.00 ERA.

McCarthy earns All-NEC honors for the second time in his career after putting up some career numbers during the regular season. He has set career-highs in doubles (16), home runs (7), RBI (49) and runs scored (44). Hitting just .272, McCarthy still ranks third in the NEC in RBI, fourth in runs scored and tied for second in doubles. McCarthy's appearance on the All-NEC team comes thanks to a second-half surge that has seen him hit .336 with six home runs, 38 RBI and a .426 OBP over his last 32 games. Defensively, McCarthy has committed just three errors in 340 chances for a .991 fielding percentage.

Zarozny had to battle through injuries this season but has put together quite the senior year to earn his first All-NEC honor. A former NEC Rookie of the Year, he enters the NEC Tournament with a .363 average, 15 doubles, two home runs, 29 RBI and 22 runs scored in 35 games. Zarozny fired out of the gates, collecting six doubles, including a program-record four at San Diego State, in the first eight games. A lower body injury, however, hobbled him for much of April. Zarozny finally returned on May 7 at LIU Brooklyn and has gone 20-for-39 with nine doubles, a home run, 18 RBI and 11 runs scored in 12 games since his return.