Tuesday, May 22, 2012
MACON, Ga. - USC Upstate's Gaither Bumgardner and FGCU's Ricky Knapp earned the top individual honors of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball All-Conference team as the duo picked up the Player and Pitcher of the Year awards, announced Tuesday by the league office.
Bumgardner led the league with a .386 batting average, while recording 11 doubles, three triples and owning the league's fourth-best on-base percentage (.450). The junior outfielder scored 43 times during the season, while notching 76 hits to help the Spartans to the two-seed in the A-Sun Baseball Championship with a 16-10 league record and 33-18 overall - a win improvement of 14 from last season.
A sophomore from Port Charlotte, Fla., Knapp posted the best ERA in the A-Sun (2.12) and earned eight wins on the season, which ranks second in the A-Sun. His three complete-game shutouts topped the conference, while his 106.1 innings pitched was second-best. Knapp enters the A-Sun Championship with FGCU as the four-seed and a .243 opposing batting average - eighth-best in the conference.
Picking up the final superlative honors were Mercer's Chesny Young and USC Upstate's Matt Fincher as the Freshman and Coach of the Year. Young owned the third-best batting average at .373 with 15 doubles and the fifth-best on-base percentage at .446. Fincher guided the Spartans to the two-seed after finishing last season tied for 10th in the A-Sun. USC Upstate's pitching staff saw dramatic improvements as the team ERA moved from 7.09 to 4.11 this season.
Bumgardner and Knapp led the First Team All-Conference, which includes three Kennesaw State Owls (Josh Carr, Ronnie Freeman, Aaron Dobbs). Belmont's starting pitcher Chase Brookshire joined Knapp as one of two unanimous choices to the team.
Stetson's Robbie Powell received the relief pitcher first-team honors after tying the A-Sun single-season record for saves with 18, while Jacksonville's Adam Brett Walker held the first-base slot for the second-straight season. Walker joins KSU's Freeman and teammate Dan Gulbransen as three-time all-conference honorees.
Completing the infield portion of the first team were Belmont's second baseman Zac Mitchell and Stetson's Mark Jones. Mitchell was best in the A-Sun in on-base percentage (.492) and runs scored (58), while Jones stole 10 bases and helped the Hatters defense turn 35 double plays.
Mercer's Derrick Workman accompanied Gulbransen and Bumgardner in the outfield after batting .335 with seven homers and 33 RBI. Workman's teammate Nick Backlund earned the designated hitter first-team spot after batting .376 and driving in a league-leading 57 RBI.
The 2012 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship begins with three games on Wednesday in DeLand, Fla. on Melching Field at Conrad Park. All games will be broadcast for free on ASun.TV with Championship Saturday being streamed on ESPN3.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.