Nick Sinacola of the University of Maine, who set the school’s single-season strikeout record this season, was named the America East Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday.
The junior right-hander, who has piled up 128 strikeouts, was the unanimous choice of the league’s coaches and became the first Black Bear to earn the honor since Tommy Lawrence in 2013.
The 6-foot-1 native of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, is joined on the All-America East First Team by senior outfielder Sean Lawlor, a transfer from Flagler University in Florida.
Right-hander Noah Lewis of South Portland was chosen for the All-Rookie Team and second-year third baseman Connor Goodman earned a spot on the All-Academic Team.
Sinacola led the conference in strikeouts, earned run average (2.12) and WHIP (average walks and hits allowed per inning) at 1.04 and shared the conference lead in victories with Stony Brook’s Nick DeGennaro, who will oppose him in Thursday’s 11 a.m. tournament opener on Long Island.
His 128 strikeouts rank second among 286 Division I teams, one behind Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker, who has pitched 15 2/3 more innings. Sinacola also is second in strikeouts per nine innings (15.93).
He struck out at least 10 hitters in 10 of his 11 starts and allowed two runs or fewer nine times while pitching at least six innings in nine games.
“He attacks the [strike] zone and he will use his slider in any situation,” Albany coach Jon Mueller said.
“He’s the toughest pitcher I’ve ever faced and I’ve faced a bunch of pitchers from Power Five (conference) schools,” Lawlor said.
UMaine catcher Ryan Turenne recalled an at-bat this season by an opposing hitter, who struck out after swinging and missing two sliders and a fastball.
“On his way back to the dugout, he [the hitter] said, ‘I hate baseball,’ chuckled Turenne.
“He was dominant,” UMaine head coach Nick Derba said.
Lawlor, who bats left-handed, led the team in most statistical categories and ranked among the top 10 in America East batting average (.358), on-base percentage (.439), home runs (7), runs batted in (36) and hits (53). He also leads the team in doubles (9), total bases (85) and slugging percentage (.574).
He is riding a 16-game hitting streak during which he has batted .383.
“He’s a very good hitter, our best hitter, and he’s a throwback player,” Derba said. “He can play all three outfield positions and first base. And he could probably also play third.”
Lewis was 4-5 with a 4.42 ERA but limited teams to three earned runs or fewer in seven of his 11 starts. He struck out 43 and walked 27 in 59 innings and limited opponents to a .257 average.
“He had a pretty good freshman campaign. He threw strikes and he gave us a chance to win,” Derba said.
Goodman posted a 3.92 grade point average while studying business (management), the second highest GPA out of the 11 All-Academic honorees.
He’s batting .296 with 48 hits and ranks fourth in the conference and 66th in the nation as the toughest batter to strikeout at once every 9.5 at bats.