Baseball team fields 10 awards

When you storm through an entire season, winning more than 80 percent of your games like the Comet baseball team did, people stop and take notice.

Among those who did were the American Southwest Conference (ASC) coaches – the very same ones who witnessed their teams’ destructions at the hands and bats of UTD – who selected 10 Comets as postseason All-stars.

Senior transfer right-handed pitcher Tony Adler reeled in three awards, being named ASC East Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year while being named to the All-East First Team. Adler finished the season 8-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 60 strikeouts.

“It’s fun because I’ve been in college for five years and spent a lot of time out with injuries. It was good to come home and finally spend a lot of time on the field and be able to be proud of what I accomplished,” Adler said.

Adler said he is petitioning for a sixth year of college eligibility but playing professionally was his number one priority.

“I’m just hoping someone will give me a chance to play,” Adler said.

“You can look at the numbers and see what impact he had on the team. He was a go-to guy for us. He wanted the baseball in pressure situations,” Shewmake said.

Also included on the First Team were senior first baseman Lawrence Valbuena and senior third baseman Mike Biguenet.

Valbuena led the Comets with a .374 batting average and tied for the team lead with 41 RBIs.

“I take it as an honor to be recognized, but I’m out there to win,” Valbuena said. “We as a team set so many goals at the beginning of the season, and one of our goals was to win the conference tournament.”

Shewmake noted Valbuena’s defensive prowess as well as offensive firepower, saying the infielder was very deserving of the First Team selection.

“He’s been here for two years, and I’ve never had a first baseman who was better defensively,” Shewmake said.

Biguenet – with a vacuum cleaner for a glove and a rifle for an arm – also came up big at the plate for the Comets, hitting .338 with six home runs.

“[A postseason award] wasn’t really the prize. It was just icing on the cake,” Biguenet said. “We had four goals this season – to make the conference tournament, win the East division, be nationally ranked and win the tournament – and we succeeded in three out of four.”

Biguenet – one of the members of the inaugural baseball team at UTD – will be missed, Shewmake said, not only for his gaudy stats, but also for his leadership.

Junior left-handed pitcher Kevin McKnight heads a list of five Comets named to the All-East Second Team. McKnight went 9-2 with a 3.09 ERA and led the UTD pitching staff with five pickoffs. Joining McKnight were junior catcher Justin Price (35 hits in 29 games), junior shortstop Johnnie Espree (.360 average with 41 RBIs), senior outfielder Mark Cardoza (one error in the field and seven stolen bases) and junior designated hitter Rob Spencer (.337 average with five home runs).

Rounding out the list of recognized players, junior right-hander Gordon Walters (7-1 with a 2.68 ERA) and senior outfielder Caleb Chandler (.317 average with 45 runs scored) were selected for the All-East Honorable Mention Team.

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