AMHERST, MA – The NESCAC announced today its 2008 Baseball All-Conference selections, with four members of the Amherst College team earning the honor. While Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) earned a spot on the First Team, Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA), Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) and Josh Card (North Adams, MA) grabbed Second Team plaudits. Allar was also named to the NEIBA All-New England Third Team.
Allar was selected for last year's All-NESCAC Second Team after leading the conference with 43 RBIs, also grabbing NEIBA All-New England Second Team honors. This season, he started in all 37 games and led Amherst in batting average (.367), runs (44), RBIs (42), doubles (14) and slugging percentage (.607). Allar finishes his illustrious career with a .350 batting average, .539 slugging percentage and .406 on-base percentage, scoring 102 runs and driving in 114 others.
Defense was just as impressive for Allar, who boasted a .983 fielding percentage this season and a .975 mark for his career. After spending most of his time as a first baseman in the beginning of the 2008 campaign, Allar became the team's catcher for the final 10 games of the season when Card broke his leg sliding into second base during a home game against Trinity College.
Taking over behind the plate was no easy task, as Card was one of the best catchers the NESCAC had to offer. The 2008 season was by far the best of Card's four years, as he experienced career-highs in batting average (.346), runs (28), home runs (4), RBIs (16), slugging (.500), on-base percentage (.429) and stolen bases (12). In addition, Card's nine walks were a career high and his 12 strikeouts were a career low, as he became more disciplined at the plate.
To say that Card was a significant loss for Amherst would be a vast understatement. Not only did he boast an outstanding .991 fielding percentage, but he could bat anywhere in the lineup from top to bottom, as his speed, power, solid defense, ability to hit for average and his cannon for an arm made him a true five-tool player.
As this year's senior co-captains, Card and Allar successfully led the youngest team in head coach Bill Thurston's 43 years, as the Lord Jeffs featured 15 first-years—several of which played a vital role this season. In addition, Card and Allar help make up one of the winningest classes in program history, finishing these past four years with a combined 89 victories—just two shy of tying the 91-win mark set by the class of 1991.
Card and Allar hand their captaining duties off to Powers and Schaller, who have been elected team captains for the 2009 season. Powers started in all 37 games this year as a stellar third baseman, battling through arm injuries the entire way. As one of the most feared hitters in the conference, Powers batted .333 and finished second on the team in runs scored (31), hits (48) and doubles (12), as well as third in homers (5) and RBIs (28).
Powers—a two-time Second Team selection—slugged .535 for the year with a .416 on-base percentage and played a vital role during the Lord Jeffs' 2008 NESCAC Championship run. The lefty slugger batted .474 with an .842 slugging percentage in four tournament games, with his best game coming Sunday against Tufts when he went 5-for-6 with two homers and three RBIs, as he lifted Amherst into the finals.
Schaller started in all 37 games as an outfielder and designated hitter and had a reputation for having the ability to go yard at any time. Schaller's towering shot against Tufts in this year's NESCAC Championship gave him nine home runs for the year, which tied the Amherst single-season mark. In addition, he batted .324 with a .588 slugging percentage, scoring 31 runs and knocking in 30.
This past Sunday against Tufts, Schaller, Powers and Allar combined to go 11-for-16 with seven RBIs and six runs, then combined for six RBIs against Trinity in the ensuing game. In Saturday's dramatic win over Williams, Powers made an unbelievable diving catch in foul territory to end the ninth inning before Allar hit a laser to straightaway center for the game-winning RBI-double in the 10th.
These four great players helped Coach Thurston bump his career win total to 795, as Powers and Schaller will look to lead him to 800 next year.
FULL NESCAC RELEASE
2008 NESCAC Baseball All-Conference Selections
* 2007 All-Conference First Team
^ 2007 All-Conference Second Team
1B/C - Neal Allar, Amherst ^
P/OF - Chandler Barnard, Trinity *
P - Jeremiah Bayer, Trinity
P - Dan Benz, Williams
2B - James DiCosmo, Williams
1B - Kent Graham, Trinity ^
P - Tim Kiely, Trinity *
C - Sean Killeen, Trinity *
OF - Max Pinto, Williams
1B/2B - Steve Ragonese, Tufts *
OF - Jim Wood, Trinity *
C - Josh Card, Amherst
2B - Drew Dominguez, Wesleyan
OF - Pat Duchette, Bowdoin
C - Nick Lefeber, Middlebury ^
OF - Al Mathews, Williams
P - Patrick O'Donnell, Tufts
2B - Ryan Piacentini, Trinity
3B - Brendan Powers, Amherst ^
P - Michael Regan, Trinity
OF/DH - Chase Rose, Tufts
OF/DH - Angus Schaller, Amherst
1B - Mark Shimrock, Middlebury
Player of the Year: Steve Ragonese, Tufts
Pitcher of the Year: Tim Kiely, Trinity
Rookie of the Year: Chase Rose, Tufts
Coach of the Year: Bill Decker, Trinity