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Three Cal Poly Pitchers Land on All-Big West First Team

Three Cal Poly Pitchers Land on All-Big West First Team
 
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly pitchers Bobby Ay, Michael Clark and Taylor Dollard have been selected to the 2019 All-Big West Conference First Team.
 
Ay, honored as a starter, is a fourth-year junior while Clark, a senior, was a closer and Dollard, a sophomore, a middle reliever. Clark was a second-team All-Big West honoree as a sophomore in 2017.
 
Four other Mustangs earned honorable mention praise — junior catcher Myles Emmerson, sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson, freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands and junior outfielder Bradlee Beesley.
 
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 (pictured at left) 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.
 
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 (pictured below at left) 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.
 
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 (pictured at right) 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.
 
Dollard was an All-Big West honorable mention a year ago, compiling three saves, a 3-0 record and 2.43 ERA.
 
The addition of Ay, Clark and Dollard raises Cal Poly's total of first-team All-Big West honorees to 53 since the Mustangs joined the conference in 1997,
 
Samuelson, an honorable mention for the second time, 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.
 
Emmerson was Cal Poly's top hitter in Big West games with a .337 average (.256 overall) and, for the season, picked off four baserunners, threw out 13 would-be base stealers and committed just two passed balls and five errors in 54 games (435 fielding chances).
 
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.
 
UC Santa Barbara, which claimed its first Big West title in 33 years and will play in the NCAA Stanford Regional this weekend, captured three of the top six conference awards.
 
Junior catcher Eric Yang was named Big West Field Player of the Year, southpaw Rodney Boone earned Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors and Andrew Checketts, in his eighth season at the helm of the Gauchos, was honored by his peers as Big West Coach of the Year.
 
Yang hit .383 with a .492 on-base percentage and 77 hits, second in the Big West. Boone compiled an 8-0 mark and 2.78 ERA striking out 80 batters in 81 innings. Checketts has guided the Gauchos to four postseason appearances, including the 2016 College world Series.
 
Other award winners were sophomore right-hander Trenton Denholm of UC Irvine as Big West Pitcher of the Year, junior shortstop Christian Koss, also of UC Irvine, as Big West Defensive Player of the Year and Hawai'i outfielder Scotty Scott as Big West Freshman Field Player of the Year.
 
Denholm was 9-4 with a conference-low 1.81 ERA over 99 2/3 innings and held opposing batters to a Big West-best .178 average. Koss hit .307 with 12 doubles and 11 steals and led the league with 160 assists. Scott owned a .291 average and scored 36 runs while driving in 20.
 
Cal Poly earned its third straight and sixth overall second-place Big West finish since joining the conference in 1997, posting a 17-7 mark. The Mustangs won 26 of their final 45 games after a 2-9 start to finish 28-28 overall, their 17th season at or above the .500 mark since 2000.
 
UC Santa Barbara landed seven players on the All-Big West first team, followed by UC Irvine with four, Cal Poly with three and UC Riverside with two. Cal State Fullerton, Hawai'i and UC Davis each landed one representative on the 19-player first unit.
 
Designated hitter Connor Cannon of UC Riverside, outfielder Tommy Jew of UC Santa Barbara and utility player Maaki Yamazaki of Hawai'i are repeat first-team selections.
 
Photos courtesy of Owen Main | www.fansmanship.com