09/03/2021 9:35 AM
Earlier this week, Matt Thomas (William & Mary) was named the Cal Ripken League Offensive Player of the Year. Thomas, a second-year Big Train star, hit .350 with a 1.115 OPS, seven homers, 32 RBIs, 34 runs scored and seven stolen bases. His 33 walks drawn led all Cal Ripken League hitters and helped him to an eye-popping .515 on-base percentage. Listed as an outfielder on the All-League First Team, Thomas made starts at seven different positions in the field this summer – everywhere except pitcher and shortstop. His defensive versatility helped get his bat in the lineup almost every day.
This is Thomas's second Cal Ripken League award, as he earned 2019 LCS Most Outstanding Player honors after leading the comeback charge for the Big Train to win the 2019 title.
The following players earned Cal Ripken League First Team honors.
Kemp Alderman (First Base | Ole Miss) led the league with eight home runs and 47 RBIs. He drove in at least three runs in eight of his 25 contests this summer. His signature moment came in the final regular season game on July 21, when he cranked a walk-off grand slam to right field to down the Grays 9-8.
Keith Torres (Middle Infield | Sacramento State) played excellent defense at shortstop and led the league with a .525 on-base percentage thanks to 27 walks in 24 games.
Rocco Peppi (Third Base | Long Beach State) was an on-base machine in his own right, posting a .518 clip due in large part to being plunked a league-leading 14 times. He hit .357 with seven doubles and four home runs, and struck out just eight times in 27 games played.
Darius Foster (Outfield | San Francisco) ran wild on the basepaths this year, stealing a team-best 25 bases to go with his .327/.465/.376 slash line. Combining this year's total with his 20 stolen bases in 2019, Foster now holds the Big Train record for career steals.
Matt Thomas (Outfield | William & Mary) earned league Offensive Player of the Year honors thanks to his .350/.515/.600 slash line. He tallied seven RBIs in a single game against the D.C. Grays on July 10, capped off by a ninth inning grand slam.
Grayson Hitt (Starting Pitcher | Alabama) dominated on the mound all summer long, pitching to a 1.63 ERA with a 0.82 WHIP and a .117 opponents' batting average. He struck out 39 hitters in 22 innings of work during the regular season.
Matt Bedford (Starting Pitcher | Notre Dame) was a force atop the rotation with Hitt, pitching to a 1.50 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings of work. He kept minimized traffic on the basepaths – 0.71 WHIP and .138 opponents' average – and fired the first five innings of a seven-inning no-hitter in D.C. on July 10.
Matt Howat (Relief Pitcher | William & Mary) made seven appearances out of the bullpen in the regular season and two more in the postseason, allowing just two total earned runs across the whole summer. He struck out 15 batters in 15 innings of work, with a 1.20 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Ryan Metz (Relief Pitcher | Virginia Tech) has been a force out of the Big Train bullpen for three summers now. This year, he pitched to a 1.26 ERA and 0.70 WHIP with 19 strikeouts across 14.1 innings of work in the regular season.
The following players earned Cal Ripken League Second Team honors.
Trevor Doyle (Outfield | Sacramento State) made a push for the league batting title, finishing sixth with a .338 mark. As if that wasn't enough, he really turned things on in the playoffs, going 5-for-8 with a double and a homer in four playoff games.
Nolan Schanuel (Designated Hitter | Florida Atlantic) posted a .333 average and 1.030 OPS in 24 games this summer, tallying three homers and five doubles. He walked 21 times while striking out just 13.
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