A pair of pitchers have earned Cal Poly’s top baseball awards for the 2019 season.
Senior reliever Michael Clark earned the Cal Poly baseball team’s Ozzie Smith Most Valuable Player Award while fourth-year junior Bobby Ay captured the team’s Mike Krukow Outstanding Pitcher Award.
Mustang 17th-year head baseball coach Larry Lee announced the team award winners Friday.
Clark posted a 6-3 record and 2.61 ERA with eight saves in his final year in a Mustang uniform, opponents hitting just .220 against the right-hander from Cardinal Newman High School. He was 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA and five saves in Big West games only.
Clark pitched six hitless innings for three saves against CSUN, added nine scoreless frames in two relief appearances at UC Davis and tossed 10 1/3 scoreless innings in two more stints on the mound for two wins at Long Beach State, all in the space of three weekends in early April. He earned Big West Pitcher of the Week honors for two of those performances.
Clark’s 19 career saves and 86 career appearances on the mound are No. 2 all-time at Cal Poly. His 32 appearances this season are tied for No. 2 all-time while his eight saves are tied for No. 8.
Ay compiled a 9-1 win-loss record and 3.27 ERA, finishing third in the Big West in wins, 10th in ERA and seventh with his 74 strikeouts over 85 1/3 innings. A graduate of El Toro High School, Ay was Cal Poly’s starter all 15 weekends of the regular season.
His best two performances of the year were at Long Beach State when he struck out a career-high 10 Dirtbags over eight innings, his longest appearance on the mound in his Mustang career, in a 7-1 victory, and at UC Santa Barbara on the final weekend of the season as he struck out eight over seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits in a 3-0 shutout.
Ay also earned wins over Baylor, Saint Mary’s, Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis, USC, Hawai’i, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside. He was 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA in Big West games. All nine wins for the season were in the final 11 weeks of the campaign.
Sophomore Taylor Dollard garnered the team’s Jim Newkirk Foreman’s Award for the second year in a row as the team’s top reliever.
Dollard notched four saves to go along with a 5-0 record and 2.89 ERA. The Crespi High School graduate was 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA and three saves in Big West games only, allowing conference batters to hit just .190.
Dollard pitched six innings in relief for the win at UC Santa Barbara last Friday, struck out five over three innings for a win versus CSUN and pitched three or more innings five times. His .194 opponents’ batting average for a season is No. 5 in Cal Poly’s 25 Division I seasons.
Clark, Ay and Dollard, all right-handers, were named to the All-Big West Conference First Team last week.
Sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson earned the Monty Waltz Big Stick award as well as the John Orton Gold Glove award.
Samuelson, who drew All-Big West honorable mention praise for the second time last week, led the Mustangs in home runs and RBIs for the second year in a row. The Serra High School (San Diego) graduate, who produced five home runs and 38 RBIs as a freshman, added five more home runs and 39 RBIs to his career totals this spring. Samuelson finished first in the Big West in fielding chances, No. 2 in putouts and committed just six errors in 466 chances.
Redshirt freshman shortstop Connor Gurnik also picked up a pair of team awards — Dave Oliver Best Hustle and Robin Baggett Scholar-Athlete.
Gurnik, from Naperville, Illinois, hit .263 for the season with seven doubles and 16 RBI. The mathematics major was second on the team in stolen bases with four.
Other award winners include freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands (Scott Kidd Rookie of the Year), junior center fielder Bradlee Beesley (Jason Maas Captain’s Award) and fourth-year junior shortstop Dylan Doherty (Dick Morrow Coaches Award).
Sands produced a 23-game hitting streak, the program’s third-longest streak in its 25-year Division I history and hit safely in 27 of Cal Poly’s last 29 games of the season. The Centennial (Bakersfield) High School graduate was Cal Poly’s top hitter overall with a .328 average with eight doubles, two triples, a pair of home runs and 26 RBIs, 25 of those coming in the final seven weeks of the campaign after becoming the team’s regular designated hitter in late March.
Beesley, who opened the season with a seven-game hitting streak, going 15-for-29 for a .517 average, closed the year with a .283 average with 35 RBIs and a team-leading 15 doubles. A second-team All-Big West selection as a freshman in 2017, the San Leandro High School graduate also led the Mustangs in steals with eight in 12 attempts. Beesley is two doubles and 11 at-bats away from Cal Poly’s all-time top 10 while his 163 career starts in three seasons is No. 7 in Cal Poly’s Division I record book.
Doherty hit .235 with a double and three RBIs before missing the final 25 games of the season with a hamstring pull. He earned the team’s Dave Oliver Hustle Award a year ago.
Sands and Beesley were All-Big West honorable mentions,
Cal Poly, 28-28 overall, earned its third straight and sixth second-place Big West finish since joining the conference in 1997, posting a 17-7 mark. The Mustangs rallied from a 2-9 start and entered the final game of the 2019 season with a shot at a share of the Big West title and the automatic qualifying spot in the NCAA regionals.
Cal Poly has posted 13 winning seasons since 2000, won 16 of 30 home games this year and claimed seven weekend series, including sweeps over Columbia, CSUN, Long Beach State and UC Davis, along with a 2-2 split versus Saint Mary’s. The Mustangs have finished in the upper half of the conference standings 15 times in Lee’s 17 seasons at the helm.
Cal Poly averaged 1,511 fans for 30 home games, drawing 1,000 or more folks for every game inside Baggett Stadium for the first time in program history.
–Provided by Cal Poly