Austintown, Ohio – May 17, 2010 – The Ohio Athletic Conference announced the 2010 baseball league awards today, May 17, and conference champion Heidelberg Universityleads a talented group. Sophomore right fielder Ricardo Lizcano (Toledo, Ohio / Roy C. Start) was named the Jack Rafeld OAC Player of the Year, while junior closer Andy Lowe(Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll) was tabbed the Kent Tekulve OAC Pitcher of the Year with Austin Blaski of Marietta College.
Lizcano and Lowe also earned spots on the All-OAC first team and are joined by senior catcher Steve Decker (Maumee, Ohio / Springfield), junior second baseman Gar Keen (Sparta, Ohio / Highland), junior shortstop Jason Lash (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville), junior third baseman Willie Brechun (Canton, Ohio / Canton Central Catholic) and freshman Ethan Holt (Galion, Ohio / West Holmes). Rounding out the list of honorees is second team selection Brian Koehl (Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview).
Lizcano is the fourth ’Berg player to earn the conference’s top honor, joining Aaron Fischer (2000), Jon Hatfield (2003) and A.J. Schlea (2006). This is the 33rd annual presentation of the Jack Rafeld Award, which honors the OAC’s most outstanding player. The award is named in honor of one of Mount Union College’s most successful coaches.
Serving in multiple capacities for the Berg this season, Lizcano has started all 43 contests and has spent the majority of his time patrolling right field, while leading the way at the plate. Lizcano is picking up his first postseason honors of his career and they join his OAC Hitter of the Week accolade from earlier this year. For the year he leads the team in batting average (.466), runs batted in (66), runs scored (69), slugging percentage (.843) and on base percentage (.558), while sharing team honors in steals with 13. Within in the OAC he ranks among the leaders in batting average, RBI, runs scored, hits (83), home runs and total bases (150). Lizcano has set a new Heidelberg record for single season runs batted in and runs scored and is one home run away from tying the single season mark.
It is the second straight year that Lowe has pitched his way to the top of the conference and it is the third consecutive year that he has been voted to the All-OAC team. As a freshman he was named an honorable mention selection, while garnering first team accolades in 2009 and 2010. The Kent Tekulve Pitcher of the Year award is being presented for the 15th time and is named in honor of 1969 Marietta graduate Kent Tekulve, who went on to play 21 seasons of professional baseball.
In 2010 thus far, Lowe has thrown 48.0 innings and boasts a 2.62 earned run average and a 3-1 record. He has struck out 37 batters and helped to preserve 10 victories. His 10 saves on the year set a new single season record at Heidelberg. Lowe tied the previous mark of nine in each of his first two years at the Berg. Lowe ranks among the leaders in the OAC in ERA and saves. Earlier this year he was tabbed the OAC Pitcher of the Week.
Landing a spot on the first team for the first time of his career is Decker. His firs team nod joins his honorable mention selection as a sophomore and his second team honor as a junior. Decker is a mainstay behind the plate and has thrown out 18 would be base stealers. At the plate he has saved his best season for last, hitting .406 with 65 hits, 46 runs scored and 47 runs batted in. He has set a new Heidelberg single season record for hit by pitches at 23.
Picking up his third consecutive first team honor is Keen. At second base Keen has helped turn 30 double plays and boasts a .978 field percentage. At the plate he has registered 68 hits on the year in 180 at bats. Keen has knocked in 42 runs, while scoring 52 of his own. Of his 68 hits he has 24 extra base hits.
Joining Keen up the middle, and as a three-time first team recipient, is Lash. At shortstop Lash has turned 30 double plays and owns a .956 fielding percentage. He is third on the team with a .407 batting average, courtesy of 70 hits in 172 at bats. He has 22 doubles, three triples and six home runs, to go along with 50 RBI.
Brechun’s selection to the first team joins his honorable mention honors from a season ago. Brechun leads the team in doubles with 25 and in hits with 85. He has set a new single season record at Heidelberg for hits and doubles, as well as a new single season record for doubles in the OAC. Brechun also has scored 56 runs, while knocking in 63. At the hot corner he has a .922 fielding percentage.
Making an immediate impact in his first season has been Holt. Holt landed a spot in the starting rotation and did not disappoint. He leads the team, and the OAC, in earned run average at 2.35. Holt has a team-leading 9-1 record and 56 strike outs. In 65.0 innings of work he has given up 57 hits and 17 earned runs. For his efforts he was named the OAC Pitcher of the Week earlier this year.
Landing a spot on the All-OAC list for the second straight year is Koehl. Koehl is a three-year starter and owns an 8-0 record. He has thrown 63.0 innings and struck out 48. Koehl threw his first collegiate shutout on Saturday in a 9-0 win against Marietta in the OAC Tournament championship game to give the Berg its fourth tournament title.
Heidelberg, under the guidance of head coach Matt Palm, stand at 37-6 overall and have earned the top seed in the seven-team Mideast Regional hosted by Marietta May 19-23 at Don Schaly Stadium. The Berg swept the conference titles this season to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the regionals.