|ASUís Raffo, Lee Honored by Natural State Baseball|
JONESBORO, Ark. (6/26/12) — After leading the Red Wolves to one of the most successful seasons in ASU history in 2012, head coach Tommy Raffo was named Arkansas Coach of the Year by Natural State Baseball, while senior pitcher Jacob Lee was named as the winner of the Natural Award, given annually to the best player from the state of Arkansas.
Under Raffo’s direction, Arkansas State finished the season at 34-23 overall and at 19-9 in SBC action, the Red Wolves were just one-half game out of first place at the end of the regular season. The final month of the season saw ASU win 11 of its final 15 games, including a win over No. 22 Ole Miss before ending the season with a run to the finals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Bowling Green, Ky.
The Red Wolves capped the regular season with a three-game sweep of in-state and SBC rival UALR, their third consecutive sweep of the Trojans, and their 19 conference victories were the second-most in school history. Arkansas State also posted a 9-2 weekend series record on the year, including a perfect 4-0 mark on the road. Raffo was also named as the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year following the regular season.
Lee (Jonesboro, Ark.), who was the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year after finishing the season with a 9-1 record and an ERA of 2.77, was drafted in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Cleveland Indians. He was named first-team All-SBC, first-team All-South Central Region and third-team Louisville Slugger TPX All-American at the end of the season, becoming the first Arkansas State player since 2007 to be named as an All-American and the sixth overall to earn the honor.
Lee, the ASU career strikeout leader, struck out 86 batters on the season to rank fourth in the Sun Belt, including 11 strikeouts in ASU’s two SBC Tournament games to bring his career total to 280. Lee broke the previous ASU record of 251 set by Rusty Bourg from 1967-70 when he struck out five batters April 22 at Florida Atlantic to finish the game with 255 career strikeouts. He also finished with 24 career victories, leaving him one short of the ASU record, also set by Bourg. His 322.1 innings pitched are also an ASU record.
ASU players named to the honorable mention team were sophomore third baseman Claude Johnson, junior outfielder Michael Faulkner, junior outfielder Logan Uxa and junior reliever John Koch.
Catcher – Lester Clark, North Ark (.500, 18 doubles, 14 HR, 71 RBI)
First – Jonathan Finnegan, ATU (.398, 20 doubles, 12 HR, 47 RBI)
Second – Clark Sims, Hendrix (.372, 14 doubles, 7 triples, 16 SB)
Third – Tanner Rockwell, ABC (.391, 14 doubles, 7 HR, 17 SB)
Shortstop – Michael Upton, North Ark (.437, 15 doubles, 69 RBI)
Left Field – Sean Bignall, UALR (.346, 13 doubles, 18 HR, 64 RBI)
Center Field – Cameron Bentley, UALR (.339, 17 doubles, 22 SB)
Right Field – Keegan Ghidotti, OBU (.342, 16 doubles, 13 SB)
Designated Hitter – David Allday, SAU (.339, 21 doubles, 58 RBI)
Starting Pitcher – Doug Shields, SAU (9-2, 2.93 ERA, 95 strikeouts)
Starting Pitcher – Jacob Lee, ASU (9-1, 2.77 ERA, 86 strikeouts)
Starting Pitcher – James Baune, SAU (7-1, 2.06 ERA, .207 OBA)
Relief Pitcher – Kyle Thompson, UAFS (2-2, 0.98 ERA, 10 saves)
Relief Pitcher – Justin Thomas, SAU (5-2, 0.67 ERA, 11 saves)
Pitcher – Barrett Astin, UA (3-5, 1.99 ERA, 11 saves)
Pitcher – David Copeland, North Ark (10-1, 2.74 ERA, 75 strikeouts)
Player of the Year – Lester Clark, North Arkansas
Pitcher of the Year – Doug Shields, Southern Arkansas
Freshman of the Year – Michael Upton, North Arkansas
The Natural (Arkansan of the Year) – Jacob Lee, Arkansas State
Coach of the Year – Tommy Raffo, Arkansas State
Team of the Year – University of Arkansas Razorbacks
Honorable mention: Nick Gumm (UAFS), Jordan May (UAFS), Sam Meloy (UAFS), Brandon Taylor (UAFS), Josh Chism (UAM), Danny Loya (UAM), Thomas Biocic (ATU), Landon Sullins (ATU), Madison Beaird (ATU), Nate Wilder (ATU), Aaron Luchterhand (ATU), Myles Hiebert (CBC), Henry Castaigne (Lyon), Bryan Lynn (Lyon), Jason Dahl (SAU), Rafael Thomas (SAU), Brady Capshaw (SAU), Josh Salmon (Henderson), Brittain Diamond (Henderson), Collin Radack (Hendrix), Brock Green (OBU), Zac Treece (OBU), Patrick Castleberry (ABC), Chance Cleveland (UALR), Charles Beshears (North Ark), Matthew Crowder (North Ark), Thomas Haas (North Ark), Casey Moore (North Ark), Patrick Phillips (North Ark), Jonathan Davis (UCA), Forrestt Allday (UCA), Claude Johnson (ASU), Michael Faulkner (ASU), Logan Uxa (ASU), John Koch (ASU), Matt Reynolds (UA), Brandon Moore (UA), Ryne Stanek (UA), DJ Baxendale (UA), Colby Suggs (UA), Cade Lynch (UA)
Natural State Baseball: http://www.naturalstatebaseball.22web.org/