Big West Announces Baseball Honors
Files associated with this release:
2016 Baseball All-Confernece (pdf)
The 2016 Big West Conference Champion, Cal State Fullerton, walked away with three top honors, while Long Beach State nabbed two and Cal Poly grabbed the final accolade. Dalton Blaser was named Big West Field Player of the Year, while his teammate Colton Eastman earned Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors. Rick Vanderhook was the final Titan to be selected as he picked up yet another Big West Coach of the Year award. Long Beach State’s Darren McCaughan received the distinction of Big West Pitcher of the Year, while the Dirtbags’ Garrett Hampson was recognized as the Big West Defensive Player of the Year. The final honor, Big West Freshman Player of the Year, was handed out to Cal Poly’s Nick Meyer.
McCaughan becomes the first Long Beach State player to earn pitcher of the year honors since Andrew Liebel received the distinction in 2008. The Downey, Calif., native currently sports a league-leading 1.98 earned run average, which ranks him 24th in the nation. In 104.1 innings pitched, McCaughan struck out 74 batters while allowing just 23 earned runs en route to a 10-1 record. He becomes the first 10-game winner for Long Beach State since Cesar Ramos won 10 games back in 2005. The two-time Big West Player of the Week honoree, who’s limiting his opponents to a .191 batting average, tossed a one-hit complete game shutout against San Jose State on May 14, a first for the sophomore.
Blaser, who concluded the regular season with a conference-best .362 batting average, becomes the second straight Titan, and 14th overall, to earn Big West Field Player of the Year. Hailing from Roseville, Calif., Blaser continued to improve at the plate as the season progressed, blasting an impressive .419 batting average in conference-only contests. For the year, he notched 71 hits, 38 RBI and scored 28 runs while striking out just 18 times. The senior earned Big West Player of the Week honors after hitting .800 with three consecutive multi-hit games against UC Riverside.
Picking up Long Beach State’s first-ever defensive player of the year accolade is Hampson. The shortstop from Reno, Nev., headlines a Dirtbag defense that paces the Big West and ranks 10th in the country with a team fielding percentage of .979. In 258 chances, he recorded 89 putouts and 166 assists while committing just three errors for a .988 fielding percentage. Hampson’s 166 assists places him second in the Big West. The 5-11 junior is also a catalyst on offense as he currently sits first in the league with 53 runs scored and is tied for fourth in hits with Blaser, Big West Field Player of the Year, with 71.
Donning orange and blue for the first season, Eastman is already making a name for himself on the mound as he headlining the number one pitching staff in the country with a personal ERA of 2.11, second-best in the conference. The freshman from Fresno, Calif., is the third Titan in four seasons, and seventh overall, to earn the Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year award. In 94.0 innings of work, Eastman (8-2) struck out 93 batters while allowing just 22 earned runs. He bookended his freshman campaign with Big West Player of the Week honors. In his first collegiate start, he guided CSF to its first victory at Stanford’s Sunken Diamond since 2002 as he retired the first 16 batters he faced. In his final start of the regular season, with sole possession of the conference crown and the NCAA automatic qualifier on the line, Eastman allowed just one run in a career-long 8.1 innings of work to defeat rival Long Beach State. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine Dirtbags in a pressure-packed 2-1 victory.
Meyer, who started 50 of Cal Poly’s 57 contests at the catcher position, finished 2016 third on the Mustangs’ squad with a .301 batting average. During his freshman campaign he recorded 52 hits and 21 RBI while scoring 22 runs. His appearances at the plate became stronger as he entered conference play, owning a .337 hitting percentage in conference-only contests to rank ninth. Meyer was also dependable on defense, sporting the team’s third-best fielding percentage of .982 behind the plate. His 369 putouts ranks him sixth in the league. Meyer becomes the third Mustang to garner Big West Freshman Player of the Year accolades after Matt Jensen (2009) and Mitch Haniger (2010) did so in back-to-back years.
Vanderhook collects his second consecutive, fourth overall, Big West Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Titans to their 21st Big West title with a 17-7 record. The Titans are about to embark on their 25th consecutive NCAA appearance this weekend, the third-longest active consecutive streak in the nation, as they head to the Starkville Regional to battle Mississippi State, La Tech and Southeast Missouri State. The Cal State Fullerton pitching staff will carry the nation’s best ERA of 2.21 into the postseason. Vanderhook’s Titans have been in and out of the polls all season and finished the regular season with a 21st ranking. Cal State Fullerton has now earned 14 coach of the year accolades.
Long Beach State paces the conference with six All-Big West First Team selections, while Big West Champion Cal State Fullerton earned three selections. UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara nabbed two honorees apiece and Cal Poly and UC Riverside garnered one award each.