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Ward, Patterson sweep NEC individual awards; Ward named Player/Rookie of the Year

Photo by: DSPics.com
Photo by: DSPics.com

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team swept the Northeast Conference individual major awards for the third-straight season as redshirt freshman Ryan Ward (Millbury, Mass.) was named NEC Player and Rookie of the Year and senior Jack Patterson (Suffield, Conn.) was named NEC Pitcher of the Year. The announcement was made Wednesday night at the pre-tournament banquet.

The Bulldogs are the only school in league history to win all three individual major awards in a season and they have accomplished the feat in each of the last three years. Bryant has now had the player of the year each of the last three seasons, the pitcher of the year each of the last five years and the rookie of the year each of the last seven. In addition, the Bulldogs had eight players named to the All-NEC First and Second Teams.

Ward and Patterson earned First Team All-NEC honors and were joined on the first team by sophomore James Ciliento (Mahwah, N.J.) and senior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.). Sophomores Chris Wright (Cumberland, R.I.) and Gaby Cruz (Miami, Fla.), junior Steve Theetge (Syracuse, N.Y.) and freshman Tyler Mattison (Fort Ann, N.Y.) were all named to the second team.

Following an incredible regular season, Ward becomes the first player in league history to win player and rookie of the year honors in the same season and just the sixth to win both awards during a career. The fourth NEC Player of the Year and eighth NEC Rookie of the Year in program history, Ward enters the NEC Tournament leading the nation in hits (95) and hits per game (1.78). In NEC-only games, Ward leads the league in average (.451), RBI (30), doubles (15), triples (3), total bases (91), OBP (.489), slugging (.746) and is third in runs scored (30).

Patterson becomes the fifth-straight Bryant hurler to earn pitcher of the year honors after going 6-2 with a 3.51 ERA during the regular season. In 13 starts, Patterson struck out 90 batters and allowed just 64 hits in 77 innings. He set the program record for strikeouts by a left hander and is just the third pitcher in program history to strike out as many as 90 batters in a single season. In NEC-only games, he was third in the league in ERA (2.74), first in strikeouts (61, 11.93/Gm) and tied for second in wins (4).

Ciliento earns his first all-conference honor after hitting .365 with 13 doubles, three home runs, 27 RBI and 41 runs scored in 44 games. He ranks second in the NEC in batting, third in hits (65), tied for sixth in runs scored, tied for eighth in total bases (89), fifth in OBP (.435) and ninth in slugging percentage (.500).

Gasper, the 2017 NEC Player of the Year, earns All-NEC First Team honors for the second-straight season. He ranks third in the league in hitting (.340), second in hits (66), second in runs scored (55), fourth in total bases (104), sixth in home runs (7), seventh in RBI (41), first in walks (40) and second in OBP (.468). Gasper has set career-highs in nearly every offensive category this season and is just the sixth player in DI program history have 40+ RBI and 50+ runs scored in the same year.

The All-NEC Second Team first baseman, Wright enters the NEC Tournament with a 12-game hitting streak. He got hot down the stretch and finished the season ranked fourth in the league in hitting (.366), tied for seventh in RBI (25) and sixth in OBP (.464) in NEC-only games. Wright is hitting .320 overall with 10 doubles, five home runs, 35 RBI and 27 walks.

Cruz earns second team DH honors after hitting .302 with eight doubles, 26 RBI and 19 runs scored on the year. He shined against NEC opponents, hitting .329 with seven doubles, 21 RBI and 14 runs scored.

Theetge, the 2017 NEC Pitcher of the Year, picks up All-NEC honors for the third-straight season. He dominated in league play once again, going 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA in eight starts. In NEC-only games, Theetge ranks first in wins, second in ERA, second in strikeouts (51) and first in innings pitched per start (6.67). He posted quality starts in seven of his eight starts in NEC play and has allowed just four earned runs over his last four NEC starts.

Mattison picks up his first-career All-NEC honor after leading the league with a 1.70 ERA in NEC-only games. He appeared in eight games in league play, going 4-2 with 39 strikeouts in 37 innings. Mattison's four wins were tied for second in the league, while he ranked sixth in strikeouts and second in opponent batting average (.215). Overall, Mattison enters the NEC Tournament 5-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 14 appearances (7 starts).

The Bulldogs open the NEC Tournament against fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary's on Thursday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.