AZUSA, Calif. -- A trio of Azusa Pacific baseball players were named to the Golden State Athletic Conference’s postseason honors lists Monday afternoon following a vote of conference coaches.
All 3 were first-time honorees, with senior catcher Anthony Delgado and junior outfielder Brent Warren garnering All-GSAC recognition while junior first baseman Johnathan Erb was named the conference’s top defensive player at his position with his selection to the GSAC Rawlings-Gold Glove team.
“I couldn’t be happier for all 3 of them,” Cougar head coach Paul Svagdis said. “Obviously, being recognized reflects their performance as quality baseball players, but what I’m most proud of is the quality of men they are. Our team has battled through a lot of adversity this year, but they come back every day ready to work hard and treat each day as a new day.”
Delgado posted a .322 (47-for-146) average in 2011, and he tied for third on the team in RBIs with 22. His patience at the plate resulted in 32 walks, and he was hit by pitch 6 times, contributing to a team-high .455 on-base percentage. In GSAC play, the 5-foot-10 catcher led the conference with 27 walks, and his .452 on-base percentage against conference opponents ranked seventh in the GSAC.
Delgado reached base safely in the first 17 GSAC games he played, including a season-best 11-game hitting streak during which he hit .425 (17-for-40). He was 7-for-14 with a home run and 5 RBIs in a 4-game series with conference champion California Baptist, and he had another 7-hit series against San Diego Christian that included another home run, 2 doubles, and 7 RBIs.
Warren, a junior in his first season at Azusa Pacific after spending 2 seasons at NCAA Div. I Oregon State, batted a team-high .329 (51-for-155) with 28 runs, 22 RBIs, 6 doubles, 4 triples, and 3 home runs. The speedy 6-foot-2 outfielder finished the regular season on a tear, taking a 14-game GSAC hitting streak into the regular-season finale. During the final 20 games of GSAC play, Warren batted .444 (32-for-72) with 11 multi-hit games and 11 of his 13 extra-base hits of the season.
Warren hit all 3 of his home runs in the final 3 weeks of the regular season, starting with a 2-run blast on a 1-2 pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth that lifted Azusa Pacific to a dramatic 6-5 walk-off win over San Diego Christian April 9. Two games later, in another 2-strike, 2-out situation in the bottom of the ninth against The Master’s, Warren capped a 3-run ninth-inning rally with another walk-off hit in an 8-7 victory. In the final GSAC series of the season, Warren blasted 2 more home runs with a pair of doubles in a 4-game series split with Westmont that secured the Cougars’ spot in the GSAC playoffs with a sixth-place conference finish.
Erb, a .309 (55-for-178) hitter who led Azusa Pacific in runs (31), RBIs (28), doubles (13), and home runs (6) as a first-year junior transfer from Oxnard College, was also the Cougars’ defensive leader. The sure-handed 5-foot-11 first baseman committed only 1 error all season, and he finished the campaign with 25 consecutive games of error-free play. He is the first Azusa Pacific player represented on the GSAC Rawlings-Gold Glove team since 3 Cougars (Brice Cutspec, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Matt Venegas) were all named GSAC Gold Glove recipients in 2008.
Azusa Pacific is the No. 6 seed in this week’s GSAC Postseason Tournament, which determines 1 of the conference’s 2 automatic bids into the 46-team NAIA Baseball National Championship field. The Cougars’ first-round opponent, California Baptist, claimed the first automatic bid by winning the GSAC regular-season title. The Lancers will host this week’s 6-team, double-elimination tournament, which opens Tuesday, May 3, with a 9 a.m. contest between Azusa Pacific and California Baptist.