Samela, Cook Named to All-NESCAC Baseball Team

AMHERST, MA – The NESCAC announced its 2010 All-Conference Baseball honorees this afternoon, with sophomore Mike Samela (Westport, CT) and first-year Bob Cook (Winnetka, IL) representing Amherst College by earning First and Second Team honors, respectively. 

Samela was an easy choice for the All-NESCAC First Team, as he is in the midst of one of the most dominant offensive seasons in Amherst history. The sophomore catcher wasted no time finding his rhythm, going 7-for-10 in his first three games en route to a .381 batting average for the team's fourth highest clip. Samela has scored 29 runs and driven in 28, adding a team-high 15 walks for a .470 on-base percentage. 

With five doubles, five triples (T-2nd in NESCAC) and seven home runs (T-5th in NESCAC), Samela's .753 slugging percentage ranks fourth in the conference and is the second highest mark in program history (Wes Adams '91: .779). Samela became the first Amherst player since 1999 to hit at least five triples in a season, making him the seventh player in program history to accomplish the feat. He also became only the 10th Lord Jeff to hit at least seven homers in a year. 

Samela's success extends well beyond the batter's box, as he has established himself as one of the best five-tool players in the NESCAC. In addition to leading Amherst with 13 stolen bases (in 13 attempts), he has thrown out nine base runners (30 percent) to rank second in the category among catchers in the conference. Samela boasts a .974 fielding percentage, committing only four errors in 151 chances.

As one of only three first-years to earn All-NESCAC honors this season, Cook has recorded the conference's second highest batting average and the third highest single-season clip in program history (.456). After not batting during the team's Florida trip, Cook went 3-for-3 with a walk in his first four plate appearances to earn a spot in the lineup. Cook has hit safely in 20 of his 22 games, recording 10 multi-hit performances and racking up at least three hits on five occasions. He is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak. 

In addition to boasting Amherst's highest batting average since 1997, Cook leads the Jeffs with a .489 on-base percentage and is behind only Samela in slugging percentage (.633). Cook has 26 RBIs and has scored 19 runs in only 22 games, hitting nine doubles, one triple and a homer to go along with eight walks and four stolen bases. Beginning the season at first base before moving to shortstop, Cook has recorded a .953 fielding percentage after committing seven errors in 148 chances. 

Amherst is on pace to set a new single-season program record for batting average (.349), as this year's group could join the 1991 (.347) and 1984 (.345) squads as the only teams in program history to bat above .340. Amherst is also on track to finish with the fourth highest home run total in school history (27) and tie for the second most runs scored in a season (280), joining the 1997 team and trailing only the 1991 Lord Jeffs (303). 

Sharing NESCAC Player of the Year honors are Al Mathews of Williams College and James Wood of Trinity College. Bowdoin College's Oliver Van Zant was named the conference's top pitcher and top rookie, also landing on the All-NESCAC First Team. Tufts University came away with Defensive Player of the Year (Alex Perry) and Coach of the Year (John Casey) honors.

Amherst is hoping to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship, with the field set to be announced Sunday, May 16.

2010 All-NESCAC First Team
P - Chris DeGoti (Tufts)
3B - Brett Gorman (Bowdoin)
SS - David Leresche (Tufts)
1B/P - Noah Lynd (Bates)
OF - Al Mathews (Williams)
3B - Sam Sager (Tufts) 
3B/OF - Donald McKillop (Middlebury)
C/OF - Mike Samela (Amherst) 
OF - Julian Sonnenfeld (Wesleyan) 
OF - James Wood (Trinity)
P - Oliver Van Zant (Bowdoin) 
P - Brett Yarusi (Wesleyan)
2010 All-NESCAC Second Team
2B/DH - James Allison (Williams)
OF - Pat Barren (Williams)
SS - Tom Beaton (Bates)
OF - Chris Burke (Bates)
SS/1B - Bob Cook (Amherst)
OF - Brendan Garner (Bowdoin)
P - Kevin Gilchrist (Tufts)
P - Ryan Heide (Bates)
OF - Brice Kelly (Wesleyan)
2B - Frank Petroskey (Tufts)
3B - Stephen Rogers (Trinity)
DH/C - Jacob Simon (Bates)