FT. MYERS, Fla. (May 20, 2014) – With the 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship set to get underway on Wednesday, the league office released its postseason awards, and ETSU placed five Buccaneers on all-conference teams on Tuesday afternoon.
Senior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) received first team honors, junior Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) landed second team honors, and Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.), Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), and Gage Downey (Franklin, Tenn.) were all placed on the all-freshmen team.
Freeman started in all 54 games for the Bucs in 2014 and has started in 169 consecutive games, tying him for the 13th longest mark among active NCAA players. The Buccaneer slugger ranks 12th nationally in home runs (13) and total bases (133), 13th in slugging percentage (.630), 24th in saves (11), and 26th in RBI (52), while leading the A-Sun in home runs and slugging percentage, ranks second in RBI (52), total bases and saves, fourth in hits (74), and 10th in batting average (.351). The Jonesborough, Tenn. native earned a pair of A-Sun Player of the Week honors, while also garnering Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week accolades on March 31. Freeman also led the team in multi-hit (21) and multi-RBI (13) games, while setting the all-time program record for saves (21). Freeman, who recorded at least one hit in 43 games, also had back-to-back games with two home runs against Northern Kentucky (March 29-30). The two-time all-conference player made it three straight games with a homer as his two-run blast in April 1 at Tennessee lifted the Blue and Gold to a 2-1 victory, along with the left-hander also earning a two-inning save against the Vols. Overall, Freeman ranks among the top active current NCAA players in total bases (5th, 405), RBI (8th, 164), sac-flies (9th, 16), saves (24th, 21), hits (28th, 243) and doubles (28th, 51).
Riopedre earned his first all-conference honor with the Buccaneers on Tuesday. The Miami, Fla. native started all 54 games at shortstop for the Blue and Gold in 2014. Riopedre ranks second on the team in hits (60), doubles (14), home runs (5) and RBI (41), while being tied for eighth in the A-Sun in RBI. Thirty-two of Riopedre’s hits came in conference action, as well as 11 doubles and 20 RBI. Riopedre also ranks second on the team in multi-RBI games (12) and third in multi-hit games (13). The Buccaneer shortstop had a career-high four-hits against Northern Kentucky on March 30, while also driving in a career-high four runs vs. USC Upstate on May 2. Riopedre had at least one hit in 19 of the 26 A-Sun games and has one of ETSU’s five walk-off hits on the year as his game-winning triple carried the Bucs to a 5-4 win over Radford on April 30.
The future looks bright for the Blue and Gold as Cook, Downey and McCann picked up all-freshmen honors, marking the most players by one team on the list.
Cook started in 44 of ETSU’s 54 games (all at third base) and tied for the A-Sun lead with five triples. The ETSU infielder ranks second on the team in runs (38) and walks (19), while 24 of his 44 hits came in A-Sun play – where he posted at least one hit in 26 conference games played. Cook recorded ETSU’s longest hitting streak of the season as he hit safely in 16 straight games from April 9-May 7. Like Riopedre, Cook also had one of the Bucs’ walk-off hits as his single in the bottom of the ninth lifted ETSU to a 6-5 victory over North Florida on April 11. Cook scored two or more runs in 10 games, including a pair of three-run games, while also totaling nine multi-hit and a pair of multi-RBI games.
Downey played in 32 games, making 28 starts behind the plate for the Bucs and was one of ETSU’s top hitters in conference play. The Franklin, Tenn. native hit .367 (11-30) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, eight runs and five RBI in 11 conference games. Downey posted four multi-hit and two multi-RBI games, including a career-high three RBI game in the 7-6 win over Mercer on May 16. The Buccaneer rookie also belted his first collegiate home run in that game as his three-run blast in the second inning put the Bucs ahead for good. Downey also went 2-for-2 with one triple, a run, and an RBI in the 10-4 win over North Florida on April 13. Three of Downey’s four multi-hit games came against conference foes and he hit safely in eight of his last 11 A-Sun games, including the last five.
McCann did a tremendous job taking over as ETSU’s Sunday starter once the conference season began. The southpaw made 16 appearances (11 starts) and went 4-4 with a 5.03 ERA in his rookie campaign. Two of his four wins came in A-Sun play, while he also earned no-decisions at Kennesaw State (4/27) and versus USC Upstate (May 3), despite leaving the game with the lead. McCann’s conference wins came against some of the top offensive teams in the league in North Florida (1 ER/7.0 IP) and Mercer (3 ER/6.0 IP). The Kingsport, Tenn. native earned his first collegiate win in his first start against Eastern Kentucky (March 5). McCann tossed five scoreless innings, while striking out a career-high six hitters against the Colonels. McCann also registered a season-high seven innings in his win over UNF and also struck out five hitters in his win over Mercer.
Junior catcher Max Pentecost was named A-Sun Player of the Year and Mercer’s Michael Massi earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Florida Gulf Coast claimed the other top awards as Michael Murray was tabbed Pitcher of the Year, Jake Noll was pinned Freshman of the Year and Dave Tollett was selected Coach of the Year.
The 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship gets underway Wednesday morning as No. 6 seed ETSU takes on third-seeded Kennesaw State. First pitch is set for 10 a.m. at FGCU’s Swanson Stadium.
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