BILOXI, Mississippi – After leading Conference USA in the triple crown stat categories of batting average, home runs and RBI through the regular season, WKU junior OF Jake Sanford, was named the 2019 C-USA Player of the Year. Rice junior RHP Matt Canterino, the league’s leader in strikeouts, was named C-USA Pitcher of the Year. The league’s baseball awards were announced on Tuesday in Biloxi, Mississippi, site of The First 2019 C-USA Baseball Championship presented by Air Force Reserve.
Old Dominion OF Andy Garriola was named C-USA Freshman of the Year, while Florida Atlantic junior C Pedro Pages won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Florida Atlantic’s John McCormack was named the Keith LeClair Coach of the Year, while FAU Hitting Coach Greg Mamula earned the Assistant Coach of the Year honor.
Sanford is the second consecutive C-USA Player of the Year that was also named C-USA Newcomer of the Year. The transfer from McCook CC (Neb.), burst onto the scene with one of the most productive offensive showings in league history. Sanford enters the C-USA Championship batting .402 with 22 home runs and 65 RBI, while posting a .488 on-base and an .828 slugging percentage, all tops in the league. A rare back-to-back C-USA Hitter of the Week and a National Player of the Week honoree this season, Sanford’s home run total is the most by a C-USA player since 2010 National Player of the Year Anthony Rendon of Rice hit 26.
Canterino leads C-USA in opposing batting average (.203) and is second in strikeouts (112) while walking just 21 batters in a league-high 93.0 innings pitched. He owns a record of 6-5, with five of those wins coming in C-USA play. In conference play, he has struck out 82 batters in 69.0 innings. Canterino struck out 10 or more batters in four games (all against conference opponents) and is among the NCAA leaders in strikeouts-per-nine innings at 10.8. Canterino is the fourth different Rice hurler to be named C-USA Pitcher of the Year.
Garriola exploded on the C-USA scene with a powerful bat this spring, ranking in the top 10 in six key offensive categories. He led all C-USA freshmen in batting average (.326), doubles (18), home runs (10) and RBI (61), tying for fourth among all league players in doubles and placing second in RBI. Garriola also placed sixth in hits (72) and eighth in slugging percentage (.561), while posting a team-high 24 multiple-hit games and 18 multi-RBI outings for the Monarchs. He is the first Old Dominion player to earn C-USA Freshman of the Year honors.
Pages, a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award as the top collegiate catcher, becomes the third Florida Atlantic player in four seasons to win the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year award. His defensive prowess is punctuated by throwing out 41% of base stealers this season (17-of-41). Pages also has three pickoffs and has committed just three errors in 410 chances behind the plate, while adding 35 assists.
After leading Florida Atlantic to its second Conference USA regular season championship in the past four years, McCormack earned the Keith LeClair Coach of the Year honor. The Owls finished 22-8 in conference play, giving them an 80-36-1 league mark over the past four seasons. FAU, which has played in NCAA Regionals three of the past four years, has won 35 or more games for the fifth consecutive season under McCormack. This year’s Owls team won eight of 10 series’ in C-USA play and have non-conference wins at in-state rivals Miami, Florida and UCF on its resume. This is his McCormack’s first C-USA Coach of the Year honor and the second conference coach of the year award (Sun Belt in 2010).
Mamula, the Owls’ recruiting coordinator, hitting coach, infield coach and third base coach, earned the Assistant Coach of the Year award. Under Mamula’s tutelage, Florida Atlantic leads the league in hitting (.298), hits (588), runs and scoring (391 and 7.1 runs per game), home runs (56) and slugging percentage (.443). The Owls’ improvement in hitting is over 25 points higher than it was in 2018, and the OBP is nearly at that plateau as well, up from .366 to .388. Eight of the team’s regulars are hitting .299 or higher, eight have five or more HR, and seven have 31 or more RBI.
Florida Atlantic had the most first-team All-Conference selections with four, while Southern Miss was next with three. Charlotte, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech led the way with five total all-conference choices. Nine of the league’s teams had at least one representative on the first team unit, while eight had second-team selections. FIU, Louisiana Tech, Rice and UTSA each had two players on the All-Freshman team. Voting was done by a panel consisting of each head coach, each team’s media relations director and a media representative from each city.
2019 CONFERENCE USA BASEBALL AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jake Sanford, Jr., OF, WKU
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Matt Canterino, Jr., RHP, Rice
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Andy Garriola, Fr., OF, Old Dominion
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Jake Sanford, Jr., OF, WKU
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Pedro Pages, Jr., C, Florida Atlantic
KEITH LeCLAIR COACH OF THE YEAR
John McCormack, Florida Atlantic
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
Greg Mamula, Florida Atlantic
FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM
IF Bryan Arias, Sr., UTSA
IF Mason Mallard, Sr., Louisiana Tech
IF Elvis Peralta, Jr., Marshall
IF Vinnie Pasquantino, Jr., Old Dominion
OF Andy Garriola, Fr., Old Dominion
OF Jake Sanford, Jr., WKU
OF Matt Wallner, Jr., Southern Miss
C Harris Yett, Sr., Charlotte
DH Andrew Dunlap, Sr., Rice
UT Logan Allen, So., FIU
SP Matt Canterino, Jr., Rice
SP Karan Patel, Sr., UTSA
SP Walker Powell, Jr., Southern Miss
SP Blake Sanderson, Sr., Florida Atlantic
RP Braxton Smith, Sr., Louisiana Tech
RP Zach Schneider, Sr., Florida Atlantic
SECOND TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM
IF Trei Cruz, So., Rice
IF Austin Shenton, Jr., FIU
IF Hunter Slater, Sr., Southern Miss
IF Bryce Windham, Sr., Old Dominion
OF Parker Bates, Jr., Louisiana Tech
OF Gabe Montenegro, So., Southern Miss
OF Andru Summerall, So., Florida Atlantic
C Pedro Pages, Jr., Florida Atlantic
DH Bryant Bowen, Jr., Southern Miss
UT Peyton Wigginton, So., Middle Tennessee
SP Joshua Shapiro, Sr., Marshall
SP Evan Kravetz, So., Rice
SP Matt Miller, Sr., Louisiana Tech
SP Ryne Moore, So., Old Dominion
RP Hunter Gregory, So., Old Dominion
RP Colby Bruce, Jr., Charlotte
3B Josh Haney, Charlotte
IF Danny Lynch, Southern Miss
OF/IF Luke Edwards, Marshall
OF Jarrett Ford, FIU
OF Mitchell Hartigan, Florida Atlantic
OF Andy Garriola, Old Dominion
OF Ryan Teschko, Old Dominion
OF Jess Davis, UAB
OF Jackson Swiney, WKU
LHP Jonathan Fincher, Louisiana Tech
RHP Josh Young, Middle Tennessee
SS/RHP Jacob Josey, Florida Atlantic