#2 Suns secure Region Player of the Year, reach Championship Final and punch ticket to NCCAA World Series.
The Florida Christian College Suns baseball team had an eventful time last week at the NCCA South Regional in Toccoa Falls, GA. First, they learned that six Suns players, the most of any team in the region, had not only earned All-South Region recognition, but one of them was named the 2012 South Region Player of the Year. Earning a place on the 1st Team were: junior outfielder Erick Figueroa (Jacksonville, FL), who batted .373, with a .563 slugging pct.(13th in the country), and a .439 on-base pct., and led the Suns this season with 38 RBI’s (2nd in the country); red-shirt freshman infielder, Mark Vidal (Orlando, FL) who was 9th in the country with a .401 BA, and led the Suns with a .580 slugging pct. (8th in the country) along with a .472 OBP (11th in the country) and 26 RBI’s, and was 2nd in the country in hits per game; freshman infielder/pitcher, Andres Cancio (Orlando, FL) who batted .356, slugging pct. .541, and a .401 OBP, along with 24 RBI’s and 3 wins and 1 save on the mound; freshman pitcher, Brent Hodge (Daytona Beach, FL) who led the Suns on the mound with 5 wins, 1 save and a 3.95 ERA (3rd in the country) and was 4th in the country in strikeouts per game; and earning Honorable Mention was freshman pitcher, Hansel Lazo (Hialeah Gardens, FL), who also picked up 5 wins on the mound for the Suns. Also, earning a place on the 1st Team was freshman infielder/pitcher, Eric Santamaria (Miami, FL) who not only led the Suns, but the country, with a blistering .468 BA, along with a .569 slugging pct. (11th in the country) and a .496 OBP (5th in the country). Eric also led the Suns with 3 saves and a 4.08 ERA on the mound. For his outstanding season Santamaria was named the 2012 South Region Player of the Year; a first, obviously, not only for the first-year baseball program at FCC, but also for Suns Athletics in general. Head Coach, Jon Copeland, was effusive about his All-Region players, “We have an outstanding group of players this year, and many of them put together phenomenal regular seasons. To have our program, in its first year of existence, receive this kind of recognition is awesome. Eric Santamaria is an example of a player, who put in his work every day, who strove to be better than the day before, and allowed us to build on his gifts as a baseball player. He is very deserving of Region Player of the Year”.
Next, the Suns, ranked #2 in the nation, put together a very good run in the South Regional. They opened up, behind the arm of Lazo, with an 11-7 victory over Clearwater Christian College. FCC moved on the winner’s bracket semi-final and dropped that game to Tocccoa Falls, ranked #1 in the nation, 4-7. In the elimination game the Suns once again faced Clearwater Christian College and pulled out a dramatic 7-6 win, in extra innings, in a contest that saw CCC twice come back and tie the score to extend the game (along with a rain delay that forced completion of the game the following day) before FCC finally put it away and Santamaria picking up the win. The Suns then moved on the Championship round and handed Toccoa Falls a 7-5 defeat, with Santamaria picking up his 2nd win of the day on the mound, and forcing a winner-take-all championship final game. The Suns took an early 2-0 lead, behind a 2-run blast by catcher, Carlos Guzman (Orlando, FL) but were unable to hold on, and fell 3-8 to the Eagles.
However, thanks to their #2 national ranking, and their strong showing in the regional, the Suns earned the first at-large entry, and the #2 seed, into the NCCAA World Series, which begins next week at Prasco Park, in Mason, OH. Copeland, who has been to national championships before, stated, “Obviously, we have achieved some great things so far this season; much more than what most people expect from a first-year program. But we have an opportunity to achieve even more, and this group of players has done a great job this season of seizing the moment and allowing their hard work and dedication to pay off for them”. FCC’s first game will be at 4pm on Wednesday, March 9th with Manhattan (KS) Christian College.
There will be no video or audio broadcast, but you can follow live stats of the game by clicking here:
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