THE COACH SMITH ERA, BY THE NUMBERS (PART THREE OF THREE)
This is the final installment of a three-part series highlighting the career of 32-year head coach John Smith. Leading up to his final home series, May 14-16 against Nevada, interesting facts from coach Smith's tenure will be presented in a by-the-numbers format.
The Athletic Department is extending an invitation to all baseball alumni to attend the May 16th 1 p.m. game against Nevada and take part in an on-field recognition ceremony for coach Smith's final home game. There will also be a pre-game BBQ for baseball alumni starting at 11:30 a.m. Please contact Tina Westerhold at email@example.com or 916-278-4263 for tickets to the game on May 16th, as well as to RSVP for the pre-game BBQ.
16: The number of All-America honors earned by Hornet players under coach Smith.
The run of All-Americans started in 1985, which was the first year of a stretch of four out of five years where the Hornets advanced to the postseason. Kevin Kobza earned first team honors in 1985, after hitting a school record .465 with a school record 27 doubles and 64 RBI. Pitcher Steve Brueggeman earned second team honors the same year, posting a school record 12-1 record with a 2.91 ERA. The following season, in 1986, Doug Eastman earned second team honors and Deron Curran was named to the third team. Eastman hit .361 with four homers, 29 RBI and 48 stolen bases, while Curran hit .333 with nine home runs, 18 doubles and 65 RBI.
Kevin Creamer earned first team honors in 1987 as a designated hitter, finishing the season with a .407 average, nine home runs and 43 RBI. Three Hornets earned All-American honors in 1988, as Mark Gieseke and Brian Hewitt earned first team honors and Erik Bennett earned second team honors. Gieseke hit .449 with eight homers and 48 RBI, while Hewitt hit .377 with 37 RBI. Bennett went 10-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 1988, and followed it up in 1989 with a first team honor after going 6-5 with a 1.88 ERA, the lowest ERA in school history. Mike Frame was a second team honoree in 1989, posting a 6-2 record with 11 saves and a 2.63 ERA, and Gieseke earned third team honors, hitting .363 with nine home runs and 45 RBI.
The Division I era has since five players earn All-America honors, with three Hornets earning the accolades during the 1993 season. In that year, Roland de la Maza and Matt Martinez were pegged to the second team, while Will Fitzpatrick earned third team honors. de la Meza was 11-2 with a 3.17 ERA, throwing six complete games and striking out 113 batters in 113.2 innings pitched. Martinez hit .374 with 36 stolen bases, while Fitzpatrick hit .323 with 17 HR and 64 RBI.
Harvey Hargrove earned third team All-America honors in 1997 after posting a school record 26 home runs and 62 RBI in his lone year in the Green and Gold. Hargrove hit .361, walked 33 times and stole 11 bases.
The latest Hornet to earn All-America status was Tim Wheeler, who earned second team honors in 2009. Wheeler became the school’s first two-time first team all-Western Athletic Conference selection, hitting .385 on the season with 18 home runs and 72 runs batted in, setting the school’s single-season RBI record in the process.