ROCK HILL, S.C. – The South Atlantic Conference announced its postseason awards Wednesday morning as four Carson-Newman players took home honors. Senior third baseman Brandon Roberts (Davie, Fla.) was named a first-team All-SAC selection and a Gold Glove winner, senior pitcher Vince Apicella (Dillsburg, Pa.) was a first-team pick, junior center fielder Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) was placed on the honorable mention list and junior catcher Gooch Greer (Dickson, Tenn.) was given a Gold Glove.
The baseball squad had not had a player named to the first-team since the 2012 season when Kyle Koeneman, first base, and Robby Thigpen, pitcher, were each slotted on the top group. Koeneman was the league's player of the year and Thigpen also picked up a gold glove.
With a duo on the Gold Glove list, the Eagles placed a pair of athletes on the list for the first time since the awards were first handed out in 2010. In the first six years of the award, the Eagles had just three honorees – Cody Nix, outfield, in 2011, Thigpen in 2012 and Bo Ausmus, outfield in 2014.
Roberts is the third C-N third baseman to earn a first-team nod and the first since Derrick Lankford in 1996. The senior ranks in the top-10 in the conference in hits (68 – 6th), batting average (.380 - 7th), RBIs (51 – 7th), slugging percentage (.642 – 7th) and total bases (114 – 7th). His RBI total is 36th nationally while his hits tally is 42nd and his total bases number is 45th. On March 1, Roberts was named the SAC and Tennessee Sportswriters' Association Player of the Week as he became the first C-N player to earn the honor from the league since Kevin Franchetti won on March 5, 2013. He began the year on a 17-game hitting streak and has notched 19 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI outings.
The third baseman tallied a .946 fielding percentage tallying 111 assists, second among players at the hot corner and ninth in the league while being a part of nine double plays.
"It feels good because it's a very competitive conference," Roberts said. "There are a lot of great players that we've played against, not only this year but the four years that I've been here. To be named by the coaches as the best third baseman in this conference, that's really big to me."
Apicella, a 2015 all-region selection, is having another historic season for the Eagles. He is the first Eagle to be on All-SAC teams in consecutive years since Derek Long did so three times from 2008-2010 and the first pitcher since Matt Teague from 2005-07. The southpaw has recorded the most complete games, seven, since the school moved to the Division II ranks in 1994. His complete game tally ranks fifth in the country. This season, Apicella is 9-2 with a 3.76 earned run average and 94 strikeouts. The left-hander ranks sixth nationally in wins and seventh in punch outs. He has recorded two shutouts being one of four players in the program's history to accomplish the feat as he has done so in each of the last two years. The strikeout tally is fourth-most in school history for a season and the win total is fifth-most.
The hurler was named the conference pitcher of the week on Feb. 16 and March 8 bringing his career total to four, the most by any C-N since the award was first handed out in 2006. Apicella has struck out 10 or more four times in 2016 and has won each of the last five outings.
"It's nice to see all of the hard work in the off-season and in the fall has paid off for us," Apicella said. "Being able to be consistent year-to-year I think really shows. I just tried to carry it over from last year, fix the little things that I could improve on from last year. It seemed to help out this year. The defense and the batting all year has been fantastic. I couldn't ask for more."
Addington ranks 26th in the country with 24 stolen bases, a mark that ranks eighth since the program joined Division II in 1994. In the last seven years, the junior is just the third player with double-digit steals in a season and has the most since Evan Patterson swiped 24 bags in 2009. Addington ranks 10th in the league with 49 runs scored as he has racked up 19 multi-hit outings. With a .330 batting average, three home runs and 21 RBIs, Addington is having his best season yet.
Greer threw out a ridiculous percentage of runners attempted to steal a base at .591, nearly 20 points higher than any catcher in the league to play at least 30 games. The junior threw out 13 baserunners, the fourth-highest in the league. Greer allowed just nine players to swipe a bag against him, the lowest of any receiver in the league that played in 30 games.
Carson-Newman is the No. 2 seed in the SAC Baseball Championships that will be played at Smokies Stadium. The Eagles will play at 3:45 p.m. against the highest remaining seeds from single-elimination games on Thursday evening. The contest can be heard and viewed on cneagles.com/live with the Eagle Sports Network providing play-by-play coverage beginning 10 minutes prior to first pitch.
All-SAC First Team
OF – Shane Billings, Wingate
OF – Kevin Victoriano, Tusculum
OF – Rayshelon Carolina, Mars Hill
1B – Steven Cooper, Anderson
2B – Dylan Richardson, Catawba
SS – Evan Rogers, Mars Hill
3B – Brandon Roberts, Carson-Newman
C – Will Albertson, Catawba
DH – Malachi Hanes, Catawba
SP – Placido Torres, Tusculum
SP – Vince Apicella, Carson-Newman
SP – Ethan Elliott, Lincoln Memorial
RP – Bryan Blanton, Catawba
All-SAC Second Team
OF – Daymon Totherow, Newberry
OF – Will Winslow, Coker
OF – Bill Krebs, Wingate
1B – Chance Bowden, Catawba
2B – Zack Finchum, Tusculum
SS – Matthew De La Rosa, Lenoir-Rhyne
3B – Derek Olenchuck, Newberry
C – Jack Leech, Coker
DH – Bradley Brown, Wingate
SP – Dallas Baldwin, Coker
SP – Zack Kelly, Newberry
SP – Russ Weiker, Catawba
RP – Brock Goodling, Anderson
OF – Wes Neiderland, Lincoln Memorial
OF – Luke Setzer, Catawba
OF – Ryan Addington, Carson-Newman
1B – Will Winslow, Coker
2B – Schuyler Martire, Brevard
SS – Jean Rodriguez, Lincoln Memorial
3B – Eric Kalman, Lincoln Memorial
C – LJ Newman, Anderson
DH – Dylan Powers, Mars Hill
SP – Daniel Nations, Newberry
SP – Christian Raasch, Tusculum
SP – Brandon Donahue, Wingate
RP – Marshall Rentz, Newberry
RF – Garrett Bernardo, Anderson
CF – Shane Billings, Wingate
LF – Clint Allen, Coker
1B – Creighton Wilke, Tusculum
2B – Dylan Richardson, Catawba
SS – Jeremy Simpson, Catawba
3B – Brandon Roberts, Carson-Newman
C – Gooch Greer, Carson-Newman
P – Daniel Nations, Newberry
Player of the Year
Evan Rogers, Mars Hill
Pitcher of the Year
Placido Torres, Tusculum
Freshman of the Year
Ethan Elliott, Lincoln Memorial
Coach of the Year
Jim Gantt, Catawba