Blake Whitney earns NECBL top starting pitcher honor
Whitney, a rising senior at South Carolina-Upstate, earned the Robin Roberts Award by etching his name into the SteepleCats' record books.
Whitney was also named a first-team NECBL All-Star.
The right-hander struck out a North Adams-record 80 batters this season. He blew past Scott Squier, who struck out 70 back in 2013. Whitney also left Scott Chambers (2004) and Adam Kalkoff (2003) in the dust as they both had 68 strikeouts in their season. Whitney more than outpaced NECBL strikeout runner up Cam Junker of Plymouth. The right-hander from Notre Dame struck out 51 in 36 2/3 innings.
Whitney made nine starts for the SteepleCats, throwing 52 innings. He had those aforementioned 80 strikeouts to only 13 walks. His WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) was .940, the lowest mark on the team for anyone with more than 20 innings pitched.
Whitney gave up 36 hits in those 52 innings, and only nine of them were for extra bases. He gave up five doubles and four home runs.
Of his nine starts, the SteepleCats were 4-5.
His record was a more pedestrian 1-3, but he had six no-decisions. Whitney's lone recorded win came on June 20, when he pitched seven innings against Valley. He gave up a run on two hits, did not walk anyone and struck out 11.
In his nine regular-season starts, Whitney gave up more than two earned runs only once. That came when he gave up four earned runs on seven hits in eight innings in a loss to New Bedford on July 8.
Whitney walked three hitters twice, the most in any game. Of his nine starts, he registered 10 or more strikeouts four times.
He is the first SteepleCat to be named the top starting pitcher since Tim Boyce won the award in 2008. That was also the last time a North Adams player won a major award in the league.
NECBL champion Valley got one award winner as Tyler Smith was named the top relief pitcher.
Smith was second in the league in saves with eight. In 19 1/3 innings, he did not give up an earned run, struck out 38 and allowed only four hits. He was, however, the only Blue Sox player receiving an end-of-the-year award.
Tommy Jew of Mystic was named the league's top pro prospect and winner of the Rick Ligi League MVP award. Hermen Sardinas of Plymouth was named the winner of the Christopher Ashmos 10th Player Award.
Nick Mascelli of Mystic was named the league's top defensive player, Kam Misner of Newport won the league's batting title with a .378 average and was named the rookie of the year. Dean Lockery of Keene was named the league's most improved player, while Ocean State's Jim Sauro was named the manager of the year.
Whitney was the only SteepleCat named to either of the NECBL All-Star teams.
League MVP Jew, defensive player Mascelli and batting champ/rookie of the year Misner were all named to the first team. Sardinas, the 10th player, earned second-team honors.
Smith was the only member of the league-champion Blue Sox to make the postseason All-Star Team.
NECBL All-Star Teams
C — Mark Sluys, Winnipesaukee (Brown U.). 1B — Koby Claborn, Winnipesaukee (Abilene Christian). 2B — Nick Mascelli, Mystick (Wagner). SS — Dean Lockery, Keene (Central Connecticut). 3B — Nate Eikoff, Keene (Virginia). OF — Anthony Godino, Upper Valley (Wagner); Tommy Jew, Mystic (UC-Santa Barbara); Kam Misner, Newport (Missouri). DH — Joe Drpich, Danbury (Siena). P— Blake Whitney, North Adams (USC-Upstate); Kyle Mora, Newport (UCLA); Ashton Raines, Upper Valley (Bloomsburg). Closer — Tyler Smith, Valley (Canisius).
C — Ty Duval, Newport (Vanderbilt). 1B — Shaine Hughes, Sanford (Monmouth). 2B — Randy Taveras, Danbury (Marist). SS — Jimmy Titus, Ocean State (Bryant). 3B — Andrew Daushbach, Newport (Stanford). OF — Giovanni Dingcong, Danbury (St. Thomas); Colby Maiola, Sanford (UMass Lowell); Hermen Sardinas, Plymouth (Maine). DH — Rob Boselli, Keene (St. John's). P — Tim Elliott, Keene (Georgia); Andrew Politi, Ocean State (Seton Hall); Kevin Chandler, Mystic (UC-Santa Barbara). Closer — Aaron Pinto, Ocean State (Stony Brook).
Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.
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