GAINESVILLE, Fla. (NCBWA) --- Five of college baseball's top relief specialists have been selected as finalists for the 12th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award as announced by the NCBWA on Wednesday. Two of the honorees are semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, the award presented by the NCBWA to the nation’s top player, and three have been named All-Americans.
Donko, who occupies the national lead in saves with 20, garnered All-Atlantic 10 first-team honors this year, helping the Rams to a 38-19 overall record and a semifinal appearance at the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The junior right-hander appeared in 30 games, recording 53 strikeouts with 16 earned runs and 14 walks allowed in 54.2 innings of work. Donko was 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA and an opponent batting average of .233 as VCU secured a runner-up finish in the A-10 standings.
Anderson was named a Louisville Slugger second-team All-American and first-team All-Southeastern Conference recipient and has matched Florida’s single-season school record for saves with 13. The junior right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in 43 innings over 33 appearances, allowing 30 hits and six walks while striking out 56 and holding opponents to a .195 batting average. Anderson and the Gators (50-13) earned the No. 1 national seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and UF swept through the Gainesville Regional with a 3-0 mark, setting up another Super Regional showdown versus Florida State.
Burdi, a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American and first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, has helped Louisville to a 50-12 campaign and the Cardinals’ fourth straight NCAA Super Regional appearance. He has 11 saves and is 1-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 26 appearances and has been part of seven shutouts. Burdi has thrown 28.2 innings, allowing eight hits and walking seven batters, while striking out 46 and holding opponents to a .155 batting average. The junior right-hander will be in action this weekend as the No. 2 national seed Cardinals host UCSB for a berth in the NCAA College World Series.
Garcia was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and earned third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors after helping Miami earn the ACC regular-season championship and the No. 3 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The junior right-hander has 16 saves, tied for third in the nation, and a 2-0 record with a 2.04 ERA in 35.1 innings over 32 appearances. He has allowed 25 hits and 17 walks while striking out 52, holding opponents to a .191 batting average. Garcia established the school’s career saves record on May 26 at the ACC Championship against NC State with his 40th save and the Hurricanes (48-11) will face Boston College in a Super Regional matchup looking for a return trip to Omaha.
A semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award, Rallings earned Louisville Slugger first-team All-American honors and was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. He collected 16 saves and posted a 4-1 record in 28 appearances, notching a 0.89 ERA and allowing 32 hits and 12 walks over 61 innings, while striking out 65 batters and holding foes to a .155 clip. The senior right-hander became the third Husky hurler ever to earn first-team All-American honors and the first since Tim Lincecum in 2006. Among Rallings’ 16 saves, tied for third-most in the country, only one fit the conventions of what a typical closer records – three outs or less. He had eight saves that were four to six outs and six saves that were seven to nine outs. He leads the nation in WHIP (0.72) and ranks second in ERA (0.89). Rallings helped Washington to a 33-23 overall record, a second-place showing in the Pac-12 and an appearance at the NCAA Nashville Regional.
The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced Saturday morning, June 18, at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha at 10 a.m. CT.
Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia’s Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State’s Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas’ Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns’ Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA’s Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville’s Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor and Berg became the award's first two-time winner in 2015.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.
NCBWA Stopper of the Year Finalists
Shaun Anderson, Florida
Zack Burdi, Louisville
Sam Donko, VCU
Bryan Garcia, Miami (FL)
Troy Rallings, Washington