Gaconi named Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year

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HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana right-hander Corey Gaconi was named the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, the league office announced Monday along with the All-Conference and All-Defensive teams.

Jared Biddy, Gaconi and Kyle Schimpf each earned All-Conference honors. Brennan Breaud, Preston Faulkner, Cody Grosse and Mason Knopp were honorable mentions. Grosse and Nick Ray both earned All-Defensive honors.

Gaconi wrapped up the regular season with a 7-2 record and a career-low 2.32 ERA, earning first-team honors. He ranks fifth nationally in fewest walks issued per nine innings (0.84) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.67). Earlier this season, he went 48.0 consecutive innings without issuing a walk. Gaconi is second in the conference in wins, third in strikeouts (87), fourth in innings pitched (97.0) and fifth in ERA.

A senior from Metairie, Louisiana, he earned Academic All-District honors earlier this month. Twice this season he was named Southland Conference Pitcher of the Week (April 1, April 22) and Louisiana Pitcher of the Week (April 22, May 13). The right-hander has shut out two-time defending conference champ Sam Houston State in each of his last two starts against the Bearkats.

Biddy earned third-team honors after finishing the regular season with a 1-2 record, 10 saves and a 2.60 ERA. A senior from Iowa Park, Texas, he averaged more than one strikeout (46) per inning pitched (45.0). He did not pick up his first save until one month into the season, yet ranks second in the Southland in saves.

Schimpf earned third-team honors after finishing the regular season as the Lions’ leader in batting average (.293) and RBIs (46). With 10 doubles and nine home runs he owns a .473 slugging percentage. The senior from Covington, Louisiana, has been hit by eight pitches and walked (33) more times than he has struck out (28), generating a .404 on-base percentage. Schimpf ranks fourth in the Southland in walks and fifth in RBIs. Earlier this month he earned Academic All-District honors.

Grosse, a shortstop, turned in a .965 fielding percentage, committing just eight errors in 231 chances. He finished the regular season hitting .267 with nine doubles, four triples and one home run. Grosse scored 48 runs and drove in another 38. He walked (25) more times than he struck out (25) and was hit by 11 pitches. A senior from Plainfield, Illinois, Grosse ranks second in the Southland in stolen bases (23), fourth in triples, fifth in runs scored and ninth in HBPs.

Ray, a left fielder, turned in .979 fielding percentage, committing a pair of errors in 96 chances. He contributed five outfield assists. He finished the regular season hitting .250 with four doubles, four triples, six home runs and 38 RBIs. The redshirt freshman from Jefferson, Louisiana, was named the Southland Conference Hitter of the Week (March 25) following a three-home run performance against Abilene Christian. He ranks fourth in the Southland in triples.

Breaud finished the regular season hitting .257 with a career-high 10 doubles and two triples. He scored 34 runs and drove in another 21 for the Lions. Both triples came in the same game, April 27 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, tying a program single-game record. The senior from Norco, Louisiana, ranks eighth in the Southland in stolen bases (14). He needs just two more starts to become the program’s career record-holder in games started by a position player.

Faulkner finished the regular season hitting .284 with a team-leading 17 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. Maturing as a hitter as the season wore on, he has blasted eight home runs over the last half of the season and leads the team in game-winning RBIs. The sophomore from Denham Springs, Louisiana, ranks fifth in the Southland in both home runs and RBIs, sixth in doubles and ninth in runs scored (45).

Knopp finished the regular season with a 7-2 record and a 4.43 ERA. He struck out 52 batters in 63.0 innings pitched and held batters to a .240 opponent batting average. Knopp fanned a career-high 13 batters against Northwestern State on Super Lion Saturday (April 13). The senior right-hander from Fort Scott, Kansas, ranks second in the Southland in wins and ninth in batters that struck out looking (23).

No. 3-seeded Southeastern (30-25, 19-11 Southland) faces No. 6-seeded Stephen F. Austin (24-31, 16-14 Southland) in the opening game of the 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, setting up a potential pitching matchup featuring Gaconi and fellow first-team pitcher Alex Palmer of the Lumberjacks. First pitch is slated for 9 a.m. Wednesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.

SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Tickets for the 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament are on sale through the TDECU Ticket Office at Constellation Field (1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land, Texas, 77498), by phone at (281) 240-4487 or online at www.southland.org/baseball.

The double-elimination tournament, scheduled for May 22-25, will feature the league’s top eight teams and concludes with a winner-take-all championship game May 25 at 6 p.m. CT. The winner of the tournament will receive the Southland’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. All games will be televised on ESPN+.

HOME RUN DERBY
The Southland Conference will host a home run derby Tuesday at 6;30 p.m. to kick off the 2019 Southland Baseball Tournament at Constellation Field. Tickets are $10 at the gate, and admission is free for students attending Southland Conference institutions (all schools, even those not competing) and children under the age of five.

The home run derby will feature one select player from each of the eight participating tournament teams. Gates open at 6 p.m. with the No. 8 seed team’s batter stepping in the box at 6:35 p.m. Fireworks will accompany each home run and the final trophy presentation. The winner will receive a custom Southland championship belt.

LIONS GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE APP
The new Lions Gameday Experience app puts audio, stats, video, social media and more in the hands of fans. Those in attendance can also check in to earn reward points redeemable for Southeastern-related prizes. Available for both Android and iOS devices, it can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

DIAMOND CLUB / S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the baseball program are encouraged to join the Diamond Club. Lion baseball alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Diamond Club and S Club (baseball) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern baseball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Lions Baseball, follow @LionUpBaseball or @MattRiser17 on Twitter, @LionUpBaseball on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

2019 ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
Player of the Year: Luis Trevino, Abilene Christian
Hitter of the Year: Colton Cowser, Sam Houston State
Pitcher of the Year: Corey Gaconi, Southeastern Louisiana
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Reeves Martin, New Orleans
Freshman of the Year: Taylor Smith, Incarnate Word
Newcomer of the Year: Alex Palmer, Stephen F. Austin
Clay Gould Coach of the Year: Patrick Hallmark, Incarnate Word

First Team
Pos. Name School
1B Hunter Hearn Sam Houston State
2B Riley McKnight Sam Houston State
3B Enrique Sanchez Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
SS Ryan Gonzalez Incarnate Word
C Luis Trevino Abilene Christian
DH Clayton Rasbeary McNeese
OF Colton Cowser Sam Houston State
OF Eddy Gonzalez Incarnate Word
OF Sean Arnold Incarnate Word
SP Corey Gaconi Southeastern Louisiana
SP Hayden Wesneski Sam Houston State
SP Alex Palmer Stephen F. Austin
RP Reeves Martin New Orleans
U Itchy Burts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Second Team
Pos. Name School
1B Ryan Flores Incarnate Word
2B Nate Fisbeck McNeese
3B Antonio Valdez Incarnate Word
SS JC Correa Lamar
C Taylor Smith Incarnate Word
DH Lee Thomas Incarnate Word
OF Clayton Harp Sam Houston State
OF Dalon Farkas Abilene Christian
OF Brandon Bena Houston Baptist
SP Cody Davenport Central Arkansas
SP Nathan Jones Northwestern State
SP Noah Cameron Central Arkansas
RP Bernie Martinez Incarnate Word
U Jordan Cannon Sam Houston State

Third Team
Pos. Name School
1B Kyle Schimpf Southeastern Louisiana
2B Logan Berlof Lamar
3B Carson Maxwell McNeese
SS Caleb Ricca Northwestern State
C Erik Voller Houston Baptist
DH Gaige Howard New Orleans
OF Jack Rogers Sam Houston State
OF Tyler Smith Northwestern State
OF Josh Ragan Central Arkansas
SP Jason Blanchard Lamar
SP Kyle Gruller Houston Baptist
SP Jacob Bedevian Nicholls
RP Jared Biddy Southeastern Louisiana
U Jake Dickerson McNeese

Honorable Mention: 1B: Collin Morrill, New Orleans. 2B: Brennan Breaud, Southeastern Louisiana. 3B: Robin Adames, Lamar; Sam Taylor, Northwestern State.SS: Cody Grosse, Southeastern Louisiana. C: Gavin Johnson, Sam Houston State. DH: Preston Faulkner, Southeastern Louisiana. OF: Jeffrey Elkins, Northwestern State; Avery George, Lamar, Cole Girouard, Lamar. SP: Spencer Chirpich, Abilene Christian; Mason Knopp, Southeastern Louisiana. RP: Will Dion, McNeese; Brennan Lewis, Abilene Christian; Nick Mikolajchak, Sam Houston State; Gavin Stone, Central Arkansas. U: Champ Davison, Nicholls.

2019 ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM
Pos. Name School
1B Tyler Smith Central Arkansas
2B Riley McKnight Sam Houston State
3B Carson Maxwell McNeese
SS Cody Grosse Southeastern Louisiana
C Taylor Smith Incarnate Word
LF Nick Ray Southeastern Louisiana
CF Josh Ragan Central Arkansas
RF Sean Arnold Incarnate Word
P Dustin Lacaze Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

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