Knapp Earns Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year to Headline Postseason Accolades
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Knapp becomes the third Eagle in just five A-Sun seasons to earn Pitcher of the Year honors, joining Richard Bleier and Chris Sale (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Knapp becomes the third Eagle in just five A-Sun seasons to earn Pitcher of the Year honors, joining Richard Bleier and Chris Sale (Photo by Dennis Snyder)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – As the FGCU baseball team gears up for its second-ever trip to the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament this week, the Eagles were honored by the league coaches with five postseason accolades. Headlining the recognition, sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) was named the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, as well as, one of just two unanimous selections to the All-Conference first team, announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.

Joining Knapp among the A-Sun honorees, three players were selected to the league’s All-Freshmen team in utlility/RHP Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS), outfielder Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS) and infielder/RHP Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS).

Having etched his name in the FGCU record books in just his second year on campus, Knapp becomes the third FGCU pitcher in just its fifth season as a member of the A-Sun to earn Pitcher of the Year honors, joining 2008 honoree Richard Bleier and 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and current Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale.

Comparing sophomore seasons, Knapp finished the regular season with an 8-4 record through 14 appearances, including 13 starts, owning a 2.12 ERA in 106.1 innings of work with a .243 opponent batting average. On the flip side, Sale finished with a 7-4 record through 14 appearances, including 12 starts, holding a 2.72 ERA in 89.1 innings pitched with a .246 opponent batting average. Additionally, Knapp passed Sale’s single-season record for innings pitched (103.0) which he set in the 2010 campaign.

The third Eagle in program history to earn a unanimous first team selection, Knapp also becomes the 13th FGCU selection all-time to earn a first team nod. The two-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week leads the A-Sun in overall ERA and A-Sun only ERA (1.56), while second in conference in innings pitched and wins. Also among the league’s top 10 in opponent batting average, Knapp has started the first game of all nine A-Sun series, and also set an FGCU single-season record with three shutouts and a D-1 program record with four complete games. This season marks the second time in which Knapp has earned league recognition, following his All-Freshmen team honor last year.

A trio of freshmen were also tabbed with honors, bringing the Eagles all-time total to eight All-Freshmen selections. Starting 27 games as a position player and three more as a pitcher, Anderson leads the team with four saves, picking up two during the series sweep of Stetson last weekend which helped the Eagles secure an A-Sun Tournament berth. The Arcadia, Fla. product also had four hits and three runs scored during the three games at Stetson, and enters the A-Sun Tournament on a six-game hitting streak. This season, Anderson holds a .239 average with 11 RBI and 10 runs scored, in addition to a 1-7 record on the mound with a 4.30 ERA and 26 strikeouts.

Tabbed one of College Baseball 360s Performers of the Week after throwing seven scoreless innings in a win at then-No. 6 Miami in first career start, Tillery also earned an All-Freshmen team selection. Through his 48 games played, the newcomer is hitting .230 with 17 RBI and 12 runs scored with a .300 on-base percentage. The Naples, Fla. product upped his batting average to .260 in A-Sun play, recording three multi-hit games over the final two weekends, including the game-winning RBI in both wins over Belmont. Additionally, Tillery holds a 3.63 ERA through six appearances on the mound, with four strikeouts and a .258 opponent batting average through 17.1 innings of work.

Rounding out the postseason accolades, Retzer also earned a spot on the All-Freshmen team. Making 19 straight starts in the outfield to end the regular season, the redshirt freshman held a team-high .316 average in A-Sun action, delivering a hit in 13 of 18 conference games played. Retzer enters the A-Sun Tournament on a six-game hitting streak during a critical 5-1 stretch for FGCU against Belmont and Stetson in which he went 9-for-23 with six runs scored. This season, the Boca Raton, Fla. product holds .278 average at the dish with 14 RBI and 12 runs scored, while establishing a .400 on-base percentage.

The Eagles enter the A-Sun Tournament as the league’s No. 4 seed, and are set to take on third-seeded Kennesaw State on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Melching Field at Conrad Park on the campus of Stetson University. A full preview of the A-Sun Tournament opener, as well as, live video, live audio, in-game Twitter (@FGCUBaseball) for the event will be available at later this afternoon.

Player of the Year: Gaither Bumgardner, USC Upstate
Pitcher of the Year: Ricky Knapp, FGCU
Freshman of the Year: Chesny Young, Mercer
Coach of the Year: Matt Fincher, USC Upstate

Atlantic Sun All-Conference First Team 
*SP - Chase Brookshire, Belmont
*SP - Ricky Knapp, FGCU
SP - Josh Carr, Kennesaw State
RP - Robbie Powell, Stetson
C - Ronnie Freeman, Kennesaw State
1B - Adam Brett Walker, Jacksonville
2B - Zac Mitchell, Belmont
3B - Aaron Dobbs, Kennesaw State 
SS - Mark Jones, Stetson
OF - Dan Gulbransen, Jacksonville
OF - Derrick Workman, Mercer
OF - Gaither Bumgardner, USC Upstate 
DH - Nick Backlund, Mercer
* Unanimous Choice

Atlantic Sun All-Conference Second Team
SP - Tyler Moore, North Florida 
SP - David Roseboom, USC Upstate
SP - Josh Cotham, Lipscomb
RP - David Teasley, Mercer
C - Sam Kimmel, Stetson
1B - Andy Chriscaden, Kennesaw State
2B - Austin Liput, USC Upstate
3B - Ben Carhart, Stetson
SS - Evan Boyd, Mercer
OF - Drew Turner, Belmont
OF - Matthew Scruggs, ETSU 
OF - Will Howard, Kennesaw State
DH - Judah Akers, Belmont

Atlantic Sun All-Freshmen Team
*3B - Chesny Young, Mercer
*RP - Chad Sobotka, USC Upstate
RP/IF - Scott Moses, Belmont
RP - Austin Coley, Belmont
1B - Matt Beaty, Belmont
OF/RP - Brady Anderson, FGCU
IF/P - Zach Tillery, FGCU
OF - Kirby Retzer, FGCU
SP - Alex McRae, Jacksonville
C - Max Pentecost, Kennesaw State
RP - Justin McCalvin, Kennesaw State
SP - Dimitri Kourtis, Mercer
OF - Greg Guers, USC Upstate
SP - Josh Powers, Stetson
* Unanimous Choice
** A tie in voting resulted in a 14-person All-Freshmen Team