The Oglethorpe baseball team saw seven players earn All-SAA recognition from the league's coaches Friday. The Stormy Petrels put senior catcher Adrian Celata and sophomore first baseman Andrew Mink on the All-SAA First Team; senior third baseman Austin Ferlita, senior outfielder Brandon Fish and junior designated hitter Bobby Rezac on the All-SAA Second Team; and junior second baseman Matt Motz and sophomore pitcher Kyle Babb on the All-SAA Honorable Mention list. It marked the first time earning All-SAA recognition for Rezac, Motz and Babb. It also represented new high-water marks for Ferlita and Mink, who previously topped out at honorable mention and second team, respectively.
Coming off his first team All-America season of 2016, Celata had another outstanding year in 2017. He currently leads the league in home runs with 11, a mark which puts him fifth in the country. He also ranks 17th in the nation with a rate of 0.29 home runs per game. He's 14th in Division III with 6 sacrifice flies on the season, a mark which puts him second in the SAA. He's currently fourth in the SAA with 39 RBIs, and second with 90 total bases and a .625 slugging percentage. He was named a Preseason First Team All-America recipient by D3baseball.com, and earned SAA Player of the Week recognition on April 3. He also broke the Oglethorpe career home run record during the course of the season, and currently sits at a record-breaking 28 career homers. It's his third career All-SAA recognition and his second straight first team nod.
"Celata had a slow start to the season," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano, "but to his credit he kept working, and once he gets going at the plate he's the most dangerous hitters in the conference."
Mink earns his second All-SAA honor in as many seasons after taking All-SAA Second Team accolades in 2016. He played outstanding at first base on the season, sporting a .994 fielding percentage. He hit an impressive .410 on the campaign, accrued a .510 on-base percentage, and slugged .723, but due to an early season injury, did not accumulate enough plate appearances to qualify for the league title in those categories. He cracked 6 home runs, drove in 21 runs and scored 24. The 6 home runs put him in a tie for sixth in the league. He earned SAA Player of the Week honors on March 27.
"Andrew Mink had a tremendous year for us," said Giordano. "It is not a coincidence, he came back to school in great shape and it showed. He dedicated himself to changing his body in the offseason and becoming a better player. He has been a steady force for us at the plate and has been a great leader."
Ferlita earns his fourth All-SAA accolade in as many seasons, but his first All-SAA Second Team nod after taking honorable mention the previous three years. He put up outstanding numbers in his senior season, despite missing a large chunk of the year with an injury. Ferlita sits on 7 home runs for the campaign, putting him in a tie for second in the SAA and ranking him in the top 50 nationally. He's also tied for seventh in the conference with 34 RBIs. He's hitting .357 on the season with a .429 on-base percentage and a .602 slugging percentage, but did not accrue enough plate appearances to qualify on the league leaderboard in those categories. He earned an SAA Player of the Week nod on Feb. 13 after getting off to an outstanding start on the season, and garnered a spot on the D3baseball.com Team of the Week for his efforts at the season-opening Firehouse Classic in Montgomery, Alabama.
"If not for an injury to Ferlita, I think he would have had an even bigger season," said Giordano. "He's a natural hitter and has had some monster games for us this year."
Fish garners his second career All-SAA honors, both of them of the second team variety. He's currently tied with Ferlita on 7 home runs, putting him in a tie for second in the SAA and among the top 50 nationally. He's among the SAA leaders in a number of categories, currently sitting fourth in the league in total bases with 84, and in the top 10 in both doubles (11) and runs scored (34). He's also sixth in slugging percentage with a .560 mark. He has an outstanding arm, which allowed him to accrue 3 outfield assists from his spot in right field over the course of the season.
"Fish is just a steadying force in our lineup offensively and defensively," said Giordano. "He continues to play right field at a high level and he's a threat every time he steps in the box."
Rezac grabs his first career All-SAA honor. He got the most starts of any Petrel in the designated hitter spot, but also got a significant amount of playing time at catcher. He currently has a .292 batting average, a .415 on-base percentage, and a .406 slugging percentage. He cracked a pair of home runs and hit 6 doubles on the season, and was able to coax 23 free passes on the year, collecting 16 walks and 7 hit-by-pitches.
"Bobby just finds a way at the plate," said Giordano. "He's a guy who is constantly on base for us and has had clutch at-bats all year."
Motz earned his first career All-SAA recognition after posting a .282 batting average, .340 on-base percentage and .458 slugging percentage. He slugged 4 home runs and drove in 19 runs, while finishing in the top 10 in the league with 11 doubles. On defense, he was involved in 21 double plays on the season, a mark which put him third in the league.
"Motz has worked hard to return from an injury last season and it shows," said Giordano. "He's been so steady for us and has come up with some really big hits all season long."
Babb earns his first career All-SAA recognition for his first season as a Stormy Petrel. The left-hander started 11 games on the mound for Oglethorpe, putting him in a tie for third in the league in that category. He went 4-2 on the season, accumulating a 4.14 ERA. He tabbed 2 complete games on the year, a mark which put him in a tie for fifth. One of those was his first career shutout, in which he blanked Centre in a 7-inning ballgame. He allowed just 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out eight Colonel batters on the day.
"Babb has probably been our most consistent starter this season," said Giordano. "He's been able to pound the zone and keep hitters off-balance."
"I'm proud of the work and effort these guys put into making the program better," Giordano concluded. "All of them deserve these accolades."
The Petrels will now get set for the SAA Tournament this weekend in Memphis, Tennessee. They hold the No. 7 seed, and will take on No. 2 seed Rhodes in their opening game at noon Eastern on Friday. After that, they'll continue in the 4-team double elimination pod on Saturday. The winner of the pod advances to the SAA Championship Series next weekend.