CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 20, 2014) – Led by senior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) earning first-team honors, six members of the Rutgers baseball team were named All-American Athletic Conference Tuesday at the tournament banquet. Five players picked up a spot on the third team – sophomore Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.), freshman Mike Carter (Bloomfield, N.J.), senior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.), senior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) and junior Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.).
The last time RU had six earn all-conference accolades was 2007.
After making the second team last season in the BIG EAST, Favatella becomes the first Rutgers second baseman to notch first team since Dave Marcinak in 1998. He is hitting .298 on the season and leads the offense with 41 runs, 15 doubles and 22 extra base hits. Favatella has started the last 197 games (fourth-longest active streak in the nation) and ranks second in school history with 799 career at bats, third with 248 hits, ninth with 159 runs, ninth with 12 triples and tied for ninth with 46 doubles. In addition, he had a walk-off single in the 12th inning versus USF, entering the postseason hitting 14-for-32 (.438) over the last eight games.
Brey has started the opening game of a series on the mound 10 times this season to pick up his first all-conference honor. He permitted two runs or less in seven starts to total a 2.87 ERA, allowing opposing hitters to a staff-low .215 average. The left-hander tossed two complete games, including one run surrendered over nine innings versus USF.
Carter becomes the first RU freshman to take home all-conference since Steve Nyisztor in 2010. The centerfielder led all freshman hitters in the league with a .323 season average and ranked fourth overall with a team-best .355 mark in conference games. Carter led the Scarlet Knights with eight multiple-RBI games and knocked in 33 altogether from the leadoff spot in the order. He is the seventh Rutgers true freshman since 2000 to record at least 55 hits in a season.
O’Grady registered all-conference at first base after being third team as a sophomore outfielder in 2012. He ranks fourth in the conference in slugging (.505), sixth in average (.333) and second in triples (five), also being second on the team with a .410 on-base percentage. O’Grady leads RU with 10 multiple-hit games, including three with four hits, and hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning to beat Temple May 2. He is tied for the team lead with 64 hits and 13 steals. The veteran is third in program history with 759 career at bats and eighth with 244 hits.
Sweeney joins the ranks of all-conference after breaking through to hit .342 during the regular season, the third-highest mark in the league. He leads the team with a .435 on-base percentage and is the second toughest batter to strikeout in the conference (once every 11.1 plate appearances). A candidate nationally for both the Wallace Award (top shortstop) and Olson Award (breakout player of the year), he had a stretch of reaching base in 10 consecutive trips this season and had at least two hits in 16 different games.
Zarrillo takes a spot in the third-team outfield after collecting 38 RBIs and hitting .306 during the regular season. He had a 12-game hitting streak during the year and batted .402 with runners in scoring position, also tying the team lead with 13 steals. The cleanup hitter hit a three-run home run in the middle game at Memphis on the way to a career-high four RBIs in the victory. He is sixth in the conference with 32 walks and was named Preseason All-American Athletic Conference in a vote of the league’s coaches prior to the season.
Rutgers (29-23, 14-9) will open the American Athletic Conference Championship as the No. 4 seed Wednesday at 7 p.m. against USF at Bright House Field.