Junior right-hander Nick Sinacola has become the first pitcher in the history of the University of Maine’s baseball program to be named a first-team All-American.
He is only the fourth Black Bear to earn first-team honors, joining first baseman Rick Bernardo (1986) and outfielders Andy Hartung (1990) and Mark Sweeney (1991).
Sinacola was one of seven pitchers selected to the first team by Collegiate Baseball Magazine.
The 6-foot-1 native of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, leads the nation in strikeouts with a school-record 139 and he is second in strikeouts per nine innings at 15.77.
He finished the season with a 9-3 record and a 2.04 earned run average, the latter of which ranks 19th among 286 Division I programs. He is 31st in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 6.04.
Sinacola struck out at least 10 hitters in 11 of his 12 starts and allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of them. He logged five complete games and opponents hit just .208 off him.
He allowed 59 hits in 79 1/3 innings but surrendered only four home runs and 17 extra-base hits. He walked 23 and hit four batters.
In his most recent start, which is expected to be his last at UMaine, Sinacola tossed seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball to beat top seed Stony Brook 4-2 in the America East Tournament. He struck out 11 and walked two.
Sinacola is expected to be selected when Major League Baseball holds its annual draft July 11-13.
UMaine head coach Nick Derba said he wasn’t surprised by the news.
“I would have been more surprised if he wasn’t. What else can you do in college baseball? Who else did what he did?,” Derba said. “His strikeout numbers per nine innings would be really good for a lockdown closer who pitches just one inning at a clip and here Nick is pitching at least seven innings every game. For a starter to have numbers like that is really crazy.”
Part of Sinacola’s success has stemmed from his ability to throw three pitches for strikes. He uses a fastball, an exceptional slider and a split-fingered pitch.
“He gets a lot of swings and misses,” said Derba, who called Sinacola a hard worker and fierce competitor, the type of person every team wants in their clubhouse.
“He is well-liked,” Derba said.
Teammate Alex McKenney of Hampden said Sinacola prepares meticulously for every start and has a lot of composure.
“He never gets super high or super low. He has a strong head on his shoulders,” McKenney said. “Noah Lewis and I used to chart his games and he would be at 10 strikeouts by the fourth inning.”
McKenney stressed the importance of the confidence Sinacola has in throwing his slider.
“He would throw it in any count. It’s sharp and hard. Hitters would know it was coming but they still couldn’t put the barrel of the bat on it,” he said.
Derba expects Sinacola to get drafted in the top 10 rounds, but admitted there are many factors that could affect when he is selected.