ISLANDIA, N.Y. — University of Maine’s Curt Smith (Willemstad, Curacao/Peter Stuyvesant) was named the 2008 America East Len Harlow Baseball Player of the Year as voted on by all seven of the league’s head coaches. Smith received his award at the annual championship awards banquet Wednesday night held at the Marriott Islandia in Islandia, N.Y. Also receiving major hardware at the banquet were Rookie of the Year Peter Bregartner (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) from Binghamton, Pitcher of the Year Joe Serafin (Tariffville, Conn./Simsbury) from Vermont and UMBC head coach John Jancuska as the conference’s Coach of the Year. Click here for full release and list of award winners in PDF.
Smith was a presence at the plate for the Black Bears during his senior campaign, hitting both for average and for power. The first baseman led the league with a .403 batting average, a .722 slugging percentage and 60 runs scored. Smith also finished second in America East with a .498 on-base percentage, 71 hits and 11 home runs. Add to that 17 doubles, 127 total bases, 32 walks and 12 stolen bases--all among the league leaders--and Smith closed out his collegiate career with a truly outstanding season. After spending much of his Maine career manning third base, Smith moved to the other corner of the infield for the 2008 season and adapted well, finishing with a .995 fielding percentage, tied for fourth in America East. He was recognized as Player of the Week twice this season on February 25 and March 3.
Bregartner is just the second Bearcat to earn the top honor for rookies since Binghamton joined the league. He batted .332 on the season, the highest by a freshman this year and tied for 10th in the conference overall. Against America East foes Bregartner hit .386 and reached base at a .476 clip, ripping 34 hits and putting down seven sacrifice bunts. The rookie has started all 52 games for Binghamton as the Bearcats enter the America East Championship with a 15-8 conference record and the top seed in the tournament. Bregartner was honored as the league’s Rookie of the week earlier this season on March 31.
Serafin, a two-time Pitcher of the Week and a first-team selection in 2006, is the first left-handed hurler honored with the yearly pitching award since 2001. He led the league by nearly a full earned run with a 2.66 ERA and had opponents hitting a league-low .221 off of him. Serafin pitched 71 innings this season, including 45 in America East play, and struck out 54 batters, 19 of which were caught looking. With a 6-4 record, he landed in a seven-way tie for victories on the season and averaged well over six innings per outing. Memorable moments from 2008 include a two-hit complete game victory at NJIT on April 12 and a season-high 10 strikeout, nine-inning effort on May 2 against Binghamton.
Jancuska led the Retrievers to their first ever appearance in the America East Baseball Championship this year, earning the three seed despite being picked seventh in the preseason coaches’ poll. UMBC finished with a 13-11 record in league play with the bats leading the way. Jancuska’s squad boasted the most lethal offensive punch during the regular season with a .311 team average, 324 runs scored, 517 hits, 137 doubles and 40 home runs--all numbers placing UMBC in the top two of each category. This longtime skipper, in his 31st season, has been named coach of the year in three other conferences, but this America East Coach of the Year honor is a first for Jancuska.
Joining Serafin and Smith on the All-Conference First Team are Albany’s outfielder Brendan Rowland (Albany, N.Y./Colonie), Binghamton’s starting pitcher Zach Groh (Reading, Pa./The Perkiomen School), relief pitcher Greg Lane (Binghamton, N.Y./Hofstra), second baseman Ryan James (Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading River), shortstop Kyle Klee (Rochester, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit), Hartford’s third baseman Bill Perry (East Falmouth, Mass./Falmouth), Maine’s catcher Myckie Lugbauer (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac), UMBC’s outfielder Joe Fowler (Wilmington, Del./St. Mark’s), designated hitter Will Delawter (Frederick, Md./Catoctin/Chesapeake JC) and Stony Brook’s outfielder Brian Witkowski (Lindenhurst, N.Y./Lindenhurst).
The starting pitchers on the second team are Stony Brook’s Tom Koehler (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle) and Serafin’s teammate, Eric Thompson (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Academy). Alongside Koehler and Thompson are Albany’s catcher Ryan Gugel (Batavia, N.Y./Batavia/Genesee CC), Binghamton’s first baseman Ryan Holley (Frankfort, Ill/Oakton CC), Hartford’s shortstop Ben Sobocinski (Waldorf, Md./McDonough), UMBC’s outfielders Scott Peddicord (Columbia, Md./Long Reach) and Wink Nolan (Ellicott City, Md./Calvert Hall/Maryland), Stony Brook’s reliever Jordan Purington (Westbrook, Maine/Westbrook), second baseman Chad Marshall (Paris, Ontario/Paris District), designated hitter Mike Stephan (Patchogue-Medford, N.Y./Patchogue-Medford) and Vermont’s third baseman Kyle Massie (Rutland, Vt./Rutland) and outfielder Justin Milo (Edina, Minn./Edina/Cornell).
The nine-member All-Rookie team, regardless of position, is Bregartner, Marshall, Albany’s David Kubiak (Southhold, N.Y./Southhold), Hartford’s Simon Kudernatsch (Czech Republic/Praque West), Maine’s Jarrett Lukas (Old Town, Maine/Old Town), Kevin Scanlan (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln Sudbury Regional), Stony Brook’s Stephen Marino (Lake Grove, N.Y./Centereach), and Vermont’s Matt Duffy (Milton, Mass./St. Sebastian’s) and Mark Micowski (Haddam, Conn./Xavier).
Twenty-two of this year’s honorees will compete this week for the 2008 America East Baseball Championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Baseball Championship. The Bearcats and Catamounts take the field at Farmingdale State College first at 12:05 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, while the Retrievers and Seawolves will play in the nightcap at 7:35 p.m. The winners and losers, respectively, will face each other on Friday. Saturday’s first game will pit the 1-1 teams together, while the two teams still standing will play for the conference crown Saturday night. If necessary, a seventh game will take place Sunday at 12:05 p.m.
America East Baseball Championship Tickets are $7 for adults and $2 for students with ID and children under 14. Tickets are available in advance by visiting the Stony Brook Athletics Online Ticket Office or calling 631-632-WOLF.