Gouverneur's Fenlong Named First Team All-Star
ST. LOUIS -- Headlined by Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards, five Indiana State baseball players were selected for All-Missouri Valley Conference honors Tuesday by the league's head coaches.
Geremy Guerrero was named Pitcher of the Year -- the first time a Sycamore has earned the award in program history -- while Aaron Beck earned Newcomer of the Year accolades marking consecutive years that an Indiana State student-athlete has earned the honor.
Indiana State placed a league-high five players on the all-conference first team. The Sycamores' first-team selections included Jordan Schaffer (SS), Max Wright (C), Aaron Beck (OF), Geremy Guerrero (SP) and Connor Fenlong (RP). Guerrero and Wright also earned spots on the MVC all-defensive team.
Guerrero, a product of Metamora, Ill., owns a league-best 1.92 ERA and has registered an 9-1 record in 12 starts. He also leads the MVC in innings pitched (84.1) opposing batting average (.171) and runners picked off (3). He ranks in the top-5 in strikeouts (93-2nd), wins (9-2nd), walks allowed (12,2nd), doubles allowed (4-1st), earned runs allowed (18-3rd). Guerrero ranks first nationally with a 0.75 WHIP. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7.25 and hits allowed per nine innings (5.24) rank first in the MVC and top 20 nationally. Only two other ISU pitchers have ever finished a season leading The Valley in ERA. In 1983, Paul Quinzer led the MVC with a 2.04 ERA and in 2013 current Oakland A's pitcher Sean Manaea paced the league with an ERA of 1.47.
Beck, an Evansville, Ind., native, and an Olney Central Community College transfer, made an immediate impact offensively for the Sycamores this season. The junior outfielder hit .358 with nine doubles and 22 RBI during the regular season, boasting a .519 slugging percentage. Beck is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak and strung together 11 multi-hit games in the regular season. Beck is the seventh Sycamore to earn the Valley's Newcomer of the Year honor and the second-straight Sycamore to earn the award after Collin Liberatore took home the honor in 2019.
Wright started in all 44 games for the Sycamores in the regular season and was second on the team with a .319 batting average. A Toronto, Ontario native, Wright led the team with 14 home runs, 37 RBIs to go with his .644 slugging percentage. Overall, Wright is one of the most disciplined batters at the plate, walking 34 times on the year for a .461 on-base percentage. He held the longest reached base streak of anyone on the squad at 21 games while stringing together 13 multi-hit games and leading the team with 13 multi-RBI games. Behind the plate, Wright did not commit an error in 194 chances while allowing just one passed ball all season.
Schaffer, a West Terre Haute, Ind., native, led the Sycamores with a .331 batting average after starting all 44 games at shortstop. The redshirt junior led the team with 60 hits, 42 runs scored and finished second with 29 runs batted in. He earned 21 free bases on the season with 10 walks and 11 hit-by-pitches for a .397 on-base percentage. Schaffer led the team with 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts, ranking eighth in the MVC in the category. Schaffer held a team-high 17-game hitting streak and currently leads the squad with 15 multi-hit games, including seven three-hit performances.
Fenlong finished the season as one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for the Sycamores. He led all pitchers with 17 appearances and held the best ERA on the team at 1.53. He ranked second in the MVC in saves with six on the year to go along with his 4-1 record. The Gouverneur, N.Y., product, pitched 29.1 innings, struck out 27 while allowing 10 walks. He held opponents to a .218 average against and gave up just five earned runs on the season while being a part of both of Indiana State's shutout wins.
The Sycamores will travel to Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. for the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament hosted by Southern Illinois University. Indiana State will play Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET. All games during the tournament will air on ESPN+.