Pack sweeps MW baseball awards
Following one of the most successful regular seasons in program history, the Nevada baseball team’s exploits were recognized Tuesday by the Mountain West coaches. Jay Johnson was named MW Coach of the Year, sophomore Trenton Brooks was named MW Tony Gwynn Player of the Year, junior Christian Stolo was named MW Pitcher of the Year, Cal Stevenson was named MW Co-Freshman of the Year and an additional six student-athletes were named to the 2015 All-Mountain West team.
Senior Austin Byler (1B), junior Ryan Howell (2B), senior Kewby Meyer (OF), junior Bryce Greager (UTL/DH) and junior Adam Whitt (RP) were named to the All-MW first team, while senior Kyle Hunt (SS) was named to the All-MW second team.
Nevada’s six all-conference selections is its most as a member of the Mountain West and its most since having six players named to the 2010 All-WCC team. Johnson — in his second season as Nevada’s skipper — is the programs first conference coach of the year since Gary Powers in 2003. Brooks is the inaugural recipient of the Tony Gwynn Player of the Year award and is Nevada’s first conference player of the year since third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was named the 2003 WAC Player of the Year. Stolo is Nevada’s first league pitcher of the year since Braden Shipley was named the 2013 MW Co-Pitcher of the Year. Stevenson is Nevada’s first conference freshman of the year since 2007, when first baseman Shaun Kort was named WAC Freshman of the Year.
These Wolf Pack standouts were recognized for leading Nevada to a banner regular season in 2015. Nevada — ranked 23rd in the USA Today Coaches Poll — posted a 41-13 record in the regular season while winning the first Mountain West championship in the athletic department’s history.
The Pack’s 41 wins are the most in a season since 1995 and is tied for the second-most in Pack history.
“I’m very proud of our players,” said Johnson. “They have all put in a ton of work and it is gratifying to see them succeed individually and as a team. Our program is built on work ethic and it is great to see that get rewarded.”
Johnson has posted a 72-40 (.643) record in two seasons at Nevada and has led the Wolf Pack from a fifth-place MW finish in 2012 prior to his arrival to a fourth place finish in his first season and a conference title in year two. Johnson – who was named head coach on July 1, 2013 after eight seasons as the associate head coach at San Diego – collected his 100th collegiate victory as a head coach this year in a 12-0 victory over San Jose State on April 24. Johnson became the first head coach at Nevada to bring a Mountain West title to Reno and is the second MW Coach of the Year in the athletic department’s history.
Brooks, a two-way player from Alpine, Calif., was named MW Tony Gwynn Player of the Year after excelling both at the plate and on the mound. Brooks started in all but one game in the season and was recently named a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. He led the conference with a .365 batting average. Brooks also ranked second in on base percentage, fourth in RBI, sixth in runs and hits, seventh in doubles and eighth in total bases. The lefty also went 4-1 on the mound with a 3.65 ERA in 13 appearances and six starts. He logged 37 innings on the mound while limiting opponents to a .238 batting average. Brooks earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors last season.
Stolo — a local product from Reno by way of McQueen High School and Western Nevada College — was named MW Pitcher of the Year after posting an 8-1 record on the mound. The six-foot lefty led the MW with a 2.60 ERA in 16 appearances and 72.2 innings of work. Stolo struck out 68 batters compared to just 31 walks. In conference play, Stolo posted a perfect 5-0 record with a 2.89 ERA. He closed the regular season with 11 straight appearances without a loss.
Stevenson was named MW Co-Freshman of the Year after playing in every game while ranking second on the team and sixth in the conference with a .356 batting average in his first year of collegiate baseball. The Fremont, Calif., native is a two-way player, but earned this award for his accomplishments as a lead-off batter and left fielder. Stevenson posted 74 hits, 54 runs and 25 RBIs and ranked fifth in the nation among freshmen in batting average.
Byler was named to the All-MW first team at first base, earning his second career all-conference nod. The Peoria, Ariz., native was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2015 MLB Draft, but returned to the Wolf Pack for his senior season and led the team to its first-ever MW championship. Byler is a candidate for the Dick Howser Trophy — given to the top player in college baseball — after batting .325 with 62 hits, 66 runs, 55 RBIs and 13 home runs. Byler ranks second in the nation in walks, third in runs and fifth in on base percentage.
In his first season at Nevada after transferring from Chabot College, Howell was named to the All-MW first team at second base. The Brentwood, Calif., native went .319 in the regular season with 66 hits, 53 runs, 64 RBIs and 14 home runs. Howell ranks in the top 10 nationally in sacrifice flies, home runs and RBI. Howell joins Byler as a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy.
Meyer was named to the All-MW first team in the outfield. The 6-foot-1 left fielder started in all but one game this season and ranked ninth in the MW with a .342 batting average. Meyer posted 78 hits, 58 runs, 54 RBIs and 22 doubles.
Greager was named to the All-MW first team as a utility/designated hitter after batting .352 with 62 hits, 36 runs and 41 RBIs.
Whitt was named to the All-MW first team as a relief pitcher after setting Nevada’s program record for saves in a season. The Carson City native led the league and ranked eighth in the nation with 14 saves. Whitt is two saves away from matching Nevada’s record for saves in a career.
Hunt was named to the All-MW second team as a shortstop. Hunt started in 50 games this season and helped Nevada rank fourth nationally in double plays while posting a .970 fielding percentage. Hunt went .256 at the plate with 43 hits, 37 runs and 27 RBIs in the regular season.