GREENVILLE, N.C. (NCBWA) A pair of seniors, a junior, a sophomore and a freshman are among the five finalists for the 14th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, members of the association announced Wednesday.
The five finalists, who helped their respective teams reach the 2018 NCAA Tournament, stand among the nation's best in saves with senior
Brooks Wilson (Stetson) and freshman Chris Mauloni (Jacksonville) leading the way with 20 each. Wilson, who owns a 6-0 record with a 2.13 ERA, has notched five saves during the Hatters current 18-game winning streak, including a pair in the DeLand Regional. Mauloni, the lone rookie on the list, posted a 3-2 ledger with a 2.97 ERA, helping the Dolphins to an appearance in the Gainesville Regional.
Junior Michael Byrne (Florida) and sophomore Jack Little (Stanford) have closed games for two of the eight national-seeded clubs on the year. Byrne, a two-time finalist, sports a 2-1 record with 15 saves and a 1.70 ERA. The right-hander has fanned 50 batters in 50.1 innings, leading the Gators to their 10th Super Regional appearance (seven in the last 10 years). Little owns a 3-0 record with 16 saves to go along with his miniscule 0.60 ERA in 25 games out of the bullpen.
Rounding out the list is senior Seth Kinker (Ohio State), who helped the Buckeyes to a No. 3 seed in the Greenville Regional where he finished with a 6-2 record, 15 saves and a 2.27 ERA in 30 appearances. The right-hander closed out his career striking out 60 batters, while walking just five in 63.1 innings.
The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced Saturday, June 16, at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha at 10 a.m. (CT).
Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia's Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State's Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas' Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns' Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA's David Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville's Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor and Berg became the award's first two-time winner in 2015. Miami (Fla.)'s Bryan Garcia was honored as the 2016 recipient followed by Louisville's Lincoln Henzman in 2017.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.