Dec. 21, 2012
CONWAY - Coastal Carolina senior relief pitchers Aaron Burke and Ryan Connolly have both been named to the Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball 2013 Preseason All-American team. Burke is a second team selection and Connolly a third team honoree.
Burke enters his senior season with a 2.05 career ERA, which ranks first in the Division I era at Coastal Carolina and second all-time behind Steve Smith's 1.68 ERA from 1978-80. Last season, Burke was named All-American by two publications last season, including second team by CollegeBaseballInsider.com and third team by Collegiate Baseball. He was additionally voted the Big South Co-Pitcher of the Year, Big South Tournament Co-MVP (with teammate Ryan Connolly) and first team All-Big South. Burke led the Big South and ranked fifth in the NCAA in ERA (1.58). In Big South games only, his ERA dipped to 0.31 ERA to lead the league, his four saves in league play ranked third and his .190 opponent batting average versus Big South foes ranked second. The season 1.58 ERA ranks fifth on the CCU single-season list and second in the Division I era. Burke led the league in overall wins (10), ranking 22nd in the NCAA, and his seven saves overall ranked fifth in the Big South. He and Connolly both had 35 appearances to lead the league and rank fourth on the CCU single-season list. Like a good relief pitcher, Burke throws a lot of ground balls. Of his 239 outs he recorded in 2012, 135 were ground outs --including 13 double plays -- and 40 outs came via strikeout. Burke is a durable and reliable relief pitcher as 22 of his 35 appearances were two-plus innings.
Connolly, a two-time All-Big South selection and 2010 Freshman All-American, ranks third on the CCU career ERA list (2.29), which is second in the Division I era. He also ranks sixth in career saves (14) and third in career appearances (107, 10 shy of the CCU all-time record by Byron Binda from 2002-05.). Connolly is coming off an outstanding summer as he played a key role in Cotuit winning the 2012 Cape Cod Western Division and having the best record in the league (30-14). He was 8-0 on the mound for Cotuit, leading the Cape in wins (two more than the next closest) and he tied for fourth in the Cape in saves (4). Connolly ranked second in the Cape in strikeouts (56) and fourth with a 2.28 ERA, while he tied for the Cape lead in games pitched (23) and ranked second in the Cape in innings pitched (51.1; leader was 51.2). His time in the Cape was an extension of an excellent 2012 spring with the Chanticleers. Connolly was named 2012 Big South Tournament Co-MVP (with teammate Aaron Burke) and voted second team All-Big South. He had a Big South best 11 saves for the 2012 season and his ERA of 2.10 ranked second in the league (behind Burke). The 11 saves ranked third on the CCU single-season list and 30th in the NCAA for 2012, while his 2.10 ERA ranked 31st in the NCAA. Connolly tied with Burke for the Big South lead with 35 appearances, which ranks fourth on the CCU single-season list. In Big South games only in 2012, he had an ERA of 0.34 to rank second and his five saves in league play ranked second while his .182 opponent batting average in Big South game led the league.
Several Coastal Carolina opponents made the Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-American team. First team honorees include Carlos Rhodon (N.C. State pitcher) and Trea Turner (N.C. State shortstop). Second team honorees include Kent Emmanuel (North Carolina pitcher), Buck Farmer (Georgia Tech pitcher), Corey Littrell (Kentucky pitcher), Kris Bryant (San Diego third baseman) and Austin Cousino (Kentucky outfielder). Third team honorees include Michael Wagner (San Diego pitcher), Colin Moran (North Carolina third baseman), Brandon Thomas (Georgia Tech outfielder) and Tyler Molinaro (UNC Wilmington outfielder).