PISCATAWAY, NJ – One year after playing in just two games due to a back injury, Matt Wolski (Hamilton, NJ) has rebounded to hit over .400 this season, earning 2003 New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association (NJCBA) Division I Player of the Year honors. He is the first RU player to win Player of the Year honors since Billy McCarthy in 2001 and joins recent honorees Darren Fenster (2000) and Pete Zoccolillo (1999). In addition, 12 other Scarlet Knights earned spots on the NJCBA First, Second and Rookie All-State teams.
Wolski, who suffered a back injury that limited him to two games last season and ultimately led to surgery in May, has guided Rutgers to within striking distance of the BIG EAST Regular Season Championship. RU trails West Virginia by ½-game heading into the final weekend of regular season play. In addition to his .403 batting average, Wolski owns nine doubles, two triples, one home run and 30 RBI. He also posted a .497 on-base percentage and was successful of 7-of-9 stolen base attempts.
Steve Normane (Pt. Pleasant, NJ) earned First Team honors at first base, after earning Second Team honors in 2002. Normane is hitting .338 with six home runs and a team-best 44 RBI. Vinny Esposito (Middletown, NJ) was the First Team third baseman in his first year as an everyday starter. Esposito is hitting .357 with two home runs and 35 RBI, while hitting cleanup for the Scarlet Knights. Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ), who is hitting .331 with six home runs and 43 RBI, is a First Team outfield pick, while Wolski was the first team DH. Starting pitcher Jack Egbert (Rutherford, NJ) and relief pitcher Sean Atchison (Florham Park, NJ) round out the First Team honorees. Egbert (7-4, 4.61) is also 6-1 in BIG EAST play, while Atchison (2-1, 1.21 ERA, 2 saves) has been great in relief.
The Second Team features Alberto Vasquez (Jersey City, NJ) at catcher and Graig Badger (Union, NJ) at second base. Vasquez is hitting .304 this season with 14 RBI, while also playing well defensively. Badger is hitting .297 with a .432 on-base percentage. He also leads all Division I players with 32 stolen bases.
Five RU players – Chris Lillis (Fair Haven, NJ), Jeff Grose (Iselin, NJ), OJ DeChristofano (Pequannock, NJ), Mike Bionde (Pompton Plains, NJ) and Johnny Defendis (Staten Island, NY) – earned All-Rookie honors. Lillis leads the team with five saves, while Grose is hitting .271 in 34 games. DeChristofano (3-3, 2.86) has pitched well in relief and as a starter, while Bionde won the starting shortstop job and is hitting .221 with just four errors in 41 games. Defendis is batting .297 overall with three home runs and 20 RBI in 38 contests.
The Rutgers players, as well as the other members of the All-State teams, will be formally honored at the annual NJCBA Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 27 at the Hilton in East Brunswick, NJ.
AWARD RECIPIENTS (PDF Format)