College Baseball: Big West best arm: Bibona

Daily Pilot

UC Irvine senior Danny Bibona earned Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year laurels for the second straight year to highlight Anteaters who received all-conference recognition announced Tuesday.

Bibona, who won all five of his conference starts and is 9-2 with a 2.10 earned-run average heading into the Los Angeles Regional that begins Friday at UCLA, was unbeaten the last two seasons against conference foes, winning 12 games in that span. He has 100 strikeouts in 90 innings this season and is the school's career strikeouts leader with 330.

Bibona, who missed his last three starts, all conference games, due to inflamed rib muscles, is scheduled to start against LSU in the regional opener Friday.

Senior pitcher Eric Pettis earned first-team recognition for a third straight year, while senior catcher is a repeat first-team honoree for the No. 21-ranked Anteaters (37-19), who were 17-7 in conference play and finished second behind Cal State Fullerton.

Junior third baseman Brian Hernandez also represented UCI on the first team, while senior first baseman Jeff Cusick and senior pitcher Christian Bergman were named to the second team.

Pettis, the Sunday starter who also closed six games to give him 40 career saves, is 9-3 with a 3.37 ERA. He leads all Big West pitchers with 117 2/3 innings this season, including back-to-back complete-game wins to end the regular season.

In converting everyone of his save situations, Pettis did not allow a run, yielded just one hit and did not issue a walk.

Larson, UCI's career leader with 22 home runs, brings a .299 batting average into the postseason. He hit five homers and drove in 34 runs in the regular season and threw out 23 of 48 runners attempting to steal, including the last 10.

Hernandez is hitting .333 with four home runs, 42 runs batted in an 24 extra-base hits in his first season at UCI.

Cusick leads the Anteaters in average (.379), hits (81), doubles (19), home runs (eight) and RBIs (56). His 50 career doubles rank No. 1 in UCI annals and he ranks No. 8 in the nation in fewest strikeouts per at-bat, having been fanned just nine times in 214 at-bats.

Bergman, a first-team all-conference honoree as a sophomore, earns his second straight second-team nod. He is 8-3 with a 3.82 ERA and did not allow a run in his final 24 1/3 innings, spanning his final three starts.

His season also included a complete-game one-hitter at UC Davis, in which he faced the minimum 27 batters.

Senior second baseman Casey Stevenson received honorable mention. Stevenson is hitting .318 with four homers, a team-leading 59 runs and 38 RBIs. Stevenson also leads the team with seven stolen bases in nine attempts.

Cal State Fullerton junior outfielder Gary Brown was named Player of the Year.

Mitch Haniger from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Dylan Floro from Cal State Fullerton were the conference freshman player and pitcher of the year, respectively.

— Barry Faulkner

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World