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Great Britain players in college ball: 2009

by Joe Gray

Last Saturday I wrote about how the Great Britain players involved in continental European leagues in 2009 were faring so far. Today, I’m instead looking at members of the Great Britain national team programme who competed in college baseball this season. There were some notable achievements, including a GB player being named to the Collegiate Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup for the first week of April.

Sam Jew: Palomar College (junior college in California) – “Comets”
Jew, who was on GB’s silver medal-winning squad at the 2007 Euros, had a solid second season as a right-handed starting pitcher for Palomar College, building on a freshman year in which he threw 43.1 innings for a 3-2 record and a 3.74 earned-run average. As a sophomore, Jew was a first-team All-Pacific Coast Conference selection. He appeared in 14 games, starting 13, and was 10-2. The 10 wins tied him for fourth on the all-time Palomar single-season list. His 2.07 earned-run average sits 14th on the Palomar all-time list, while his 13-4 record over two seasons puts him in eighth place all time for the Comets in win-loss percentage. Jew struck out 47 batters and walked 16 in 82.2 innings. Among his stand-out performances, he gained the win against Orange Coast (ranked #1 in Southern California) on 8 April with 8.1 shut-out innings. In the game he had runs of eight and then nine batters retired in a row. According to the college’s website, Jew will be moving for the 2010 season to Arkansas State, an NCAA division I team.

Michael Johnson: redshirted* at Cal State Stanislaus – “Warriors”
Having competed for GB at the European Junior Championships in 2002, 2004, and 2005, Johnson then went to play junior college baseball at San Joaquin Delta College. I believe that the information above on his 2009 status is correct, although I have not been able to confirm it on the university’s website.

Jeff Mottl: Douglas College (junior college in Canada) – “Royals”
Mottl, a right-handed relief pitcher, featured in four games as a freshman. In 8.1 innings, he gave up four hits and nine walks, struck out three, and finished with a 2.16 earned-run average.

Tom Stack-Babich: Harvard University – “Crimson”
Stack-Babich, who played for GB at the 2007 German Baseball Open, moved into his senior year at Harvard in 2009, having already posted solid numbers in his first three seasons. The right-handed hitter had a commendable senior season, gaining an All-Ivy League Honorable Mention. He hit .303 (.342 against left-handed pitchers) in 40 starts in right field, with eight home runs, 10 doubles, and a joint-team-leading 33 runs batted in. Babich had a phenomenal week at the start of April, being named Ivy League Co-Player of the Week and also making the week’s Collegiate Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup. On 4 April, he hit a pair of 2-run homers, which included a walk-off shot to beat Cornell 7-5. The next day, he went 6-for-9 in a 17-inning marathon against Princeton. Among his hits was a 2-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 13th to keep the game alive after the visitors had taken a 10-8 lead. In the 17th he came to the plate with the bases loaded and singled to the wall to give Harvard a 13-12 victory. Babich also made nine pitching appearances, posting a 1-0 record with two saves, a 3.68 earned-run average, and nine strike-outs in 14.2 innings. Included in his pitching appearances was a three-up three-down relief inning against Boston College in a game played at Fenway Park.

David Synnott: redshirted* at Wayne State University – “Wildcats”
Synnott, who played for the GB Cadets at the 2004 European Championships, spent 2009 redshirting as an infielder. There should be some exciting seasons ahead for him.

Michael Trask: SCC (junior college in Nebraska) – “Storm”
After representing the Bracknell Blazers in 2007 and 2008, Trask went 3-for-26 with a double in his first year in the American college system, playing as a utility player.

Sam Wiley: Westmont College (junior college in California) – “Warriors”
Wiley, who took part in GB’s 2007 US try-out camp, had an outstanding junior year at Westmont College, with a prominent article on the programme’s website outlining his achievements:

“Westmont catcher Sam Wiley of North Hollywood, Calif. has been named to the All-Golden State Athletic Conference Baseball Team. The junior, who also played at first base, posted a team-high batting average of .392 and drove in 18 runs. Among his 65 hits were five home runs, two triples and 11 doubles. Wiley also recorded team season-highs in slugging percentage (.572) and on base percentage (.460).

Wiley tallied 23 multi-hit games including a four-for-four performance against Azusa Pacific on April 23 in which Westmont defeated #12 Azusa Pacific 4-2. That was the contest in which Tim Crabbe threw a complete game three-hitter with Wiley calling the game from behind the plate. As a catcher, Wiley did not allow a pass[ed] ball all season and threw out 14 men attempting to steal a base [for a 28% caught stealing rate].

Notably, Wiley struck out only 15 times in 189 plate appearances for a percentage of 7.9%, the lowest on the team. He walked 19 times.”

*The term redshirted applies to a first-year player who did not play in any games during the season, but may still have trained with the team. Since players are eligible to play in only four years, redshirting enables players to compete in their fifth year.

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