Six Mids Earn All-Conference Team Honors; Kostacopoulos is Coach of the Year
May 10, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Six Navy baseball players have earned All-Patriot League honors, in addition, coach Paul Kostacopoulos has been named Patriot League Coach of the Year, and outfielder/pitcher Taylor Cato has been named Rookie of the year, it was announced on Tuesday. It marked the second time since 2008 that six Midshipmen were named to the All-Patriot League teams.
Relief pitcher Wes Olson and designated hitter Dave Milanes were both named to the All-Patriot League first team, while starting pitchers Sam Long and Johnny Schoberl joined first baseman Greg Dupell and second baseman Nick Driscoll on the second team.
Navy and Bucknell led all schools with six student-athletes named to the All-Patriot League teams.
Kostacopoulos, who is in his sixth season at Navy, led the Midshipmen to their first regular-season crown since 2002 and sole possession of the top spot in the regular season for the first time since 2000. At 29-20-1 this season, Navy is on the cusp of its fifth 30-win season under Kostacopoulos.
Navy was the only team that did not lose a Patriot League series this season, as the Mids won three of four games at Holy Cross and Lehigh and split with Army, Bucknell and Lafayette.
The Patriot League Coach of the Year award is the first for Kostacopoulos, who is now the fourth Navy coach to garner the honor. For his career, Kostacopoulos has received a total of eight coach of the year honors.
Cato is the first freshman in academy history to be named Patriot League Rookie of the Year since the award's inception in 2002. Cato currently leads Navy with a .379 batting average. The Senoia, Ga., native started 14 of the 15 Patriot League games in which he appeared, leading Navy with a .353 batting average in conference play.
Earlier this season, Cato posted a team season-high 14-game hitting streak, where he went 22-for-57 (.386).
On the mound, Cato went 1-1 in Patriot League play.
"Taylor put together a very good season," said Kostacopoulos. "He gave us a big lift early on in the year when we had some guys banged up and really solidified a spot in the lineup. He earned his spot and proved to the staff, and himself, that he belonged on the field. It's a well-deserved honor."
Olson has been one of the league's top relievers this season as he is currently 6-1 with two saves and a 2.49 ERA. In conference play, Olson was even more impressive as he went 2-0 and posted a 1.54 ERA in five appearances.
"Wes was really just outstanding for us this season," Kostacopoulos said. "He pitched in all crucial spots for us, which can sometimes go unnoticed. This has been his best year, and having your best year as a senior is always rewarding because it's a culmination of all the work you've put in over your career."
The right-hander from Indianapolis, Ind., has earned wins in each of his last three outings, including the Patriot League regular season title-clinching game against Lafayette on May 1. Olson made his first start since his junior season against the Leopards, as he allowed just two runs in six and one-third innings in leading Navy to a 4-2 win.
In 16 appearances totaling 47.0 innings this season, Olson has allowed just 13 earned runs, while striking out 32 and walking just 14. His six victories are the most by a Midshipman since 2008 when Oliver Drake went 6-3.
Milanes ranks third in the conference with 46 RBIs this season, which is 12th on the Navy single-season RBI list and is the most by a Mid since 2009 when Kendall Bolt had 48.
"Dave was consistent from day one this season," said Kostacopoulos. "He held up the middle of the lineup for us. If there is a `clutch-hitter' label, we are going to put that on Dave. He came through with some big hits and drove in a lot of runs in the middle of our lineup."
Milanes is currently hitting .311 and has been one of Navy's most dependable hitters this season. He has had 13 multiple-RBI games, including three games with four RBIs.
Earlier this season from March 13-26, he recorded an RBI in seven of nine consecutive contests and later posted a career-long nine-game hitting streak.
Like Olson, both Long and Schoberl provided Navy with dependable pitching and were critical to the Mids' success in conference play.
In five starts in Patriot League play, Long went 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA - which was the second-lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in the conference. Overall, Long is currently 4-4 on the season with a 4.42 ERA.
"Sam really reinvented himself after struggling at the beginning of the year," said Kostacopoulos. "I give coach (Ryan) Mau and Sam a lot of credit. It was a transition for Sam and he made some adjustments, and arguably had his best year."
The Newnan, Ga., native threw one of the best games of his career on April 25 in an 11-2 win over Holy Cross. Pitching in wet conditions, the lefty held the Crusaders to just five hits and didn't allow an earned run in a complete-game victory.
Long threw three complete games this season and his 59.0 innings ranked second on the team. The senior's 181 career strikeouts stand ninth in Navy history, while his 32 career starts rank 13th.
Schoberl went 5-1 with a 4.73 ERA in 10 starts. The right-hander was consistent on the mound all season as he limited opponents to a .274 batting average.
The sophomore was 3-0 in conference play before his season was cut short by injury.
"We thought Johnny was going to be successful for us this season, and he was," said Kostacopoulos. "Losing him after the Holy Cross start was a blow to our team, but it takes nothing away from the year he had. In being our game-two starter, he made some very crucial starts during the conference season. We were 4-0 in his starts in the league and that showed a lot of his competitiveness in getting the job done."
One of Schoberl's most impressive outings of the season came on March 5 against Central Connecticut State where he struck out a Navy season-high 12 batters to pick up his first win of the season in 9-2 Navy victory.
Dupell had a breakout season for Navy as he ranked near the top of the conference in several offensive categories. His 57 hits are tied for seventh in the league, and his 44 runs scored are tied with teammate Alex Azor for tops in the conference.
"Greg didn't have a lot at-bats coming into this season and has had a very, very solid year for us," said Kostacopoulos. "That seems to be a theme of this year's team. He's another guy that improved the old-fashioned way - by working hard."
Dupell has been a consistent offensive threat in 2011, as he is hitting .319 overall and .317 in conference play.
With 34 RBIs, Dupell ranks second on the team and seventh in the Patriot League. The sophomore from Tampa, Fla., has racked up 22 extra-base hits, including 12 doubles and seven home runs, and leads the team with 96 total bases. He has had 18 multi-hit games this season.
Like Dupell, Driscoll has been another of the Mids' most consistent players this season, both offensively and defensively.
"Nick is another one of our seniors that is having his best season," said Kostacopoulos. "He has continued to stay with the process and kept working to be the best near the end of his career. With some of the inexperience we had in the infield, his defense is very, very important - he is a solid player in the middle of the field."
Driscoll has been one of the Mids most durable players as he is one of just two players that started all 50 games this season. For his career, he ranks fifth in Navy history in games played, at 186, and seventh in games started, with 170 starting assignments. This season, he has a career-best 51 hits - fourth most on the team.
In the field, the Riverview, Fla., native has a .971 fielding percentage in conference play and has been a part of 31 double plays this season.
The senior came through with game winning hits in consecutive wins over Bucknell earlier this season. In Navy's 5-2 win on April 16, Driscoll delivered a two-RBI single that proved to be the difference, and then followed that performance the next day with an extra-inning, walk-off hit.
Navy will return to action on Wednesday against Delaware State at 4 p.m. The Mids will start their best-of-three Patriot League Tournament semifinal series against Bucknell on Saturday at 12 p.m.
2011 All-Patriot League Baseball Team
First-Team All-Patriot League
SP: Ryan Ebner, Bucknell (Jr.); John Pedrotty, Holy Cross (Jr.)
RP: Wes Olson, Navy (Sr.)
C: A.J. Miller, Lafayette (Sr.)
1B: Doug Shribman, Bucknell (Sr.)
2B: Zach Price, Army (Jr.)
SS: Clint Moore, Army (Sr.)
3B: Steve May, Army (Sr.)
OF: Ben Koenigsfeld, Army (Sr.); Drew Constable, Bucknell (Sr.); Nick Ciardiello, Holy Cross (Sr.); Rob Froio, Lafayette (Sr.)
DH: Dave Milanes, Navy (So.)
Second-Team All-Patriot League
SP: Sam Long, Navy (Sr.); Johnny Schoberl, Navy (So.)
RP: Alex Cillo, Bucknell (Jr.)
C: J.T. Watkins, Army (Jr.)
1B: Greg Dupell, Navy (So.)
2B: Nick Driscoll, Navy (Sr.)
SS: Brendan McGaheran, Lehigh (Sr.)
3B: Kevin Mihalik, Lehigh (Sr.)
OF: Bob Donato, Bucknell (Jr.); Billy Goldman, Lehigh (Sr.)
DH: Matt Lamore, Bucknell (Jr.)