PISCATAWAY, NJ – Junior outfielder Johnny Defendis (Staten Island, NY) has been named the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association (NJCBA) Division I Player of the Year, highlighting the list of annual award winners from Rutgers. He is also one of five Rutgers players to earn First Team All-State honors. Princeton’s Erik Stiller was named Division I Pitcher of the Year, while SHU’s Dan McDonald received Rookie of the Year honors and Monmouth’s Kevin Schneider was named Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Defendis is hitting .382 and leads the BIG EAST with 76 hits, while pacing the Scarlet Knights in at bats (199), triples (4) and RBI (44). He is hitting .421 in his last 15 games and has had more than one hit in a team-high 24 games, including five, four-hit efforts. Defendis hit safely in 11 games from April 17 to May 4, raising his average from .350 to .378 during that time. He topped out at .390 following a 5-for-8 effort in a doubleheader at Georgetown last Sunday.
Others on the All-State First team include second baseman Cory Rodriguez (Bridgewater, NJ). Rodriguez is hitting .365 overall, second best on the team, with 10 doubles, three home runs and 36 RBI. He is second to Defendis with 69 hits, owns a .411 on-base percentage and was a two-time NJCBA Player of the Week honoree this season. Shortstop Todd Frazier (Toms River, NJ) was named the first team shortstop by hitting .302 with 13 doubles, nine home runs and a BIG EAST-best 56 runs scored from the leadoff spot. He has also stolen 19 bases in 21 attempts this season.
Joining Defendis as a First Team outfielder is junior Jeff Grose (Iselin, NJ). Grose is hitting .329 this season, including a team-best .370 in BIG EAST play, and has posted a .422 on-base percentage. He has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games (.533) with a .619 on-base percentage. He also leads all BIG EAST outfielders with nine assists and has pitched 3.1 perfect innings of relief, earning a save vs. St. John’s.
Senior Colin Gaynor (Toms River, NJ) is the First Team designated hitter. Gaynor is hitting .337 this season for RU, with a team-best 16 doubles, four home runs and 34 RBI. He also owns a team-best .470 on-base percentage, walking 35 times in 44 games.
Rutgers also had two players earn Second Team All-State honors, senior righty Aaron Kalb (Middletown, NJ) and sophomore outfielder Dave Williams (Franklin Twp., NJ). Kalb is 4-2 this season with a 5.55 ERA, but has pitched well in no-decisions at Villanova (5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER), vs. Connecticut (5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) and at Georgetown (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER). Williams is hitting .309 in his first season as a starter, including 10 doubles, five home runs and 27 RBI. Since missing eight games with a shoulder injury, Williams has hit .321 over his last 17, including 12-straight games upon his return.
Frazier and relief pitcher Tim Woodhull (Princeton Jct., NJ) were named to the All-Rookie team. Woodhull is 3-1 this season with a team-best three saves and a 3.80 ERA. He picked up his first win with four shutout innings vs. Georgia Tech and has pitched in 21 games thus far.
Award winners will be honored at the annual NJCBA Banquet on Tuesday, May 31 at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ. The NJCBA All-Star game will take place on Monday, May 30 at FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood Blueclaws, at 1:00 p.m.