Monday, June 25, 2018

SuiteSports' 2018 MIAA Baseball Award Winners

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Earlier this morning, SuiteSports announced Franklin right-hander Jake Noviello as its 2018 Most Valuable Player. Now, we are excited to unveil the rest of our awards including offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, breakout player of the year, most outstanding career, and coach of the year.

Check back in tomorrow morning as SuiteSports releases its 2018 MIAA Baseball All-State Team.

Offensive Player of the Year

Dominic Keegan, Sr., Catcher, Central Catholic

All season long, Keegan was the top hitter in Massachusetts showcasing an ability to hit to all fields with authority. Every time he came to the plate the Central Catholic catcher seemed to fall behind in the count only to adjust mid at-bat to the pitcher’s tendencies before eventually doing damage. After being named to the Merrimack Valley Conference’s All-Conference team, Keegan elevated his play in the postseason hitting .571 with a home run, triple, two RBIs, and eight runs scored over five Super Eight games.

For the season, Keegan hit to the tune of a .469/.547/.790 slash line with a pair of home runs, 10 doubles, 19 RBIs, 28 runs scored, and 64 total bases. Keegan will continue his playing career at Vanderbilt in the fall.

Defensive “Gold Glove” Player of the Year

Luke Murphy, Sr., Centerfield, Boston College High

Murphy was the focal point of a BC High outfield that was stellar this past spring. Manning the duties in centerfield, Murphy made just one error and threw out a pair of runners. What made Murphy stand out the most, however, was his knack for routinely selling out his body to make run-saving catches.

In the 2018 Super Eight alone, Murphy took away at least six hits with diving plays either over his shoulder or with his backhand. Most notably, with BC High facing Wachusett in an elimination game and leading 6-2, Murphy took away at least three runs with a full extension dive as the ball tailed away from him to end the sixth inning.

Breakout Player of the Year

Pat Gallagher, Jr., RHP, Leominster

Despite being only a junior, Gallagher assumed the mantle as one of the hurlers in Massachusetts. Gallagher proved to be nearly un-hittable every time he took the mound.

Over 62 innings, Gallagher struck out an eye-opening 124 batters while posting an 11-1 record. The right-hander finished with a mere 0.452 ERA helping to lead the Blue Devils to a spot in the Division 1 Central Mass. Final. Gallagher's only loss came in the district final where he pitched a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts. 

Over two postseason starts, Gallagher threw 14 innings, allowed just two runs on five hits and fanned 21. Only a junior Gallagher can be expected to lead the Blue Devils back to postseason prominence in 2019.

Most Outstanding Career

Sal Frelick, Sr., Shortstop, Lexington

Over the course of the last four seasons, there was arguably no more exciting player to watch than Frelick. Every time he took the diamond, Frelick wowed those in attendance with his speed, athleticism, power, and defensive capabilities at shortstop.

The Boston College commit was instrumental in Lexington landing its first Super Eight berth in program history. For the 2018 season, Frelick hit .488 with 28 RBIs, 35 runs, 10 doubles, five triples, and four home runs. Frelick tallied 111 career hits and 103 runs scored.

Coach of the Year

Zach Brown, Franklin High School

Heading into the 2018 season, many around the state and specifically in Division 1 South expected Franklin to pose a threat. With a strong top of the rotation and quality play up the middle the Panthers seemed poised for a big season. In his fifth year at the helm, Brown's club vastly exceeded expectations landing a Super Eight berth with a 17-5 record before becoming the lowest seed in the tournament’s history to take home the title.

Most impressive about Franklin’s run was that it was accomplished with currently just one scholarship player.  All the while, the Panthers went up against some of the top talent that Massachusetts has to offer including the likes of St. John’s Prep, Central Catholic, and Wachusett.

In each of its four Super Eight games, Franklin was tied or trailing after the seventh only to rise to the occasion when the games most tense moments came around. That was on full display in the Super Eight Final when Brown made the gamble of bringing in his ace in Jake Noviello with the score tied in the bottom of the eighth. The move paid dividends as Noviello struck out three to leave the go-ahead run 90 feet away. In the top of the ninth, Brown pushed one critical final button, calling for a suicide squeeze that Evan Wendell executed perfectly to bring home the game-winning run and give Franklin the Super Eight crown.

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