Luke Hickey named HCAC Freshman of the Year
May 13, 2014
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University baseball team had six players earn All-Heartland Conference honors following the 2014 campaign, including Freshman of the Year Luke Hickey (Toledo/Whitmer), one of two Beavers selected to the First Team. Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) joined Hickey with his First Team All-HCAC selection. Seniors David Ianiro (Highland Heights/Mayfield) and Christian Vail (Lucas) secured Second Team All-HCAC honors while junior Jake Townley (Mansfield/Madison) and senior Ben Roeschley (Graymont, Ill./Flanagan) both collected honorable mention recognition.
Bluffton's first-ever baseball Freshman of the Year started slowly, but a 4-of-5 game at Rose-Hulman helped him find his stroke as Luke Hickey saw his average jump 72 points in just over three hours. Unfortunately for the Heartland Conference pitchers, Hickey was just getting warmed up as the freshman phenom hit .429 with 25 runs and 19 RBI in 25 conference games. His .429 batting average in conference play was 3rd in the HCAC while his 25 runs were tied for 6th. His .473 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage were 6th and 7th, respectively. For the season, Hickey hit a team-high .394 with 56 hits, the 12th-highest single-season total in Bluffton history.
Senior Tim Webb put the senior slump theory to rest right away when he finished his final week in Florida with a .387 batting average thanks to 12 hits, including four multi-hit games during the first week of the season. He never slowed down, finishing with a .389 batting average, the seventh-highest average in the Heartland Conference. His 37 RBI were the 9th-highest total in the HCAC and they also placed him 6th all-time for a single season at Bluffton. Webb's .507 slugging percentage placed him 14th in the HCAC, while his .448 on-base percentage was 9th in the conference. He pounded 58 hits in his final season, tied for 5th in the HCAC as well as tied for 9th all-time on Bluffton's single season list. Webb threw out 15 would-be base stealers, tied for 2nd all-time at Bluffton.
Webb left an indelible mark on Bluffton's career record books, both offensively and behind the plate. The four-time All-Heartland Conference selection is 3rd all-time with 46 career doubles and his 180 hits are tied for 4th on the career list. He scored 95 runs (tied for 8th all-time) and his 105 RBI place him in a tie for 5th all-time. Webb is in the top 10 for games played, games started, at bats and total bases. He threw out a school-record 48 would-be base stealers, 20 more than his closest rival, and he also sits at the top of the career lists for putouts (698) and chances (805).
Senior David Ianiro fashioned a superb final campaign that included single-season and career record for saves while also hitting a career-best .349 as the starting left fielder for the Beavers. Ianiro smashed the single-season mark with nine saves (previous record of five) and his 12 career saves also topped Doug Arrasmith's previous record of eight. His seven saves in HCAC action topped the conference. He led the Beavers with 38 runs scored (tied for 8th in the HCAC), 80 total bases and a .537 slugging percentage. Ianiro also pounded a team-high three homers, four triples and 11 doubles.
A 9-of-13 performance during the final weekend of the 2013 season at Hanover carried over to 2014 as senior Christian Vail used that audition to secure a starting spot in center field this year. Vail took full advantage of the opportunity, parlaying that into a spot on the All-Heartland Conference Second Team after hitting .353 with 32 runs scored and a team-high 10 stolen bases. Vail equaled Ianiro with a team-best three dingers and he also drove in 20 runs despite hitting eighth in the lineup much of the season. He slugged .521 thanks to 12 extra base hits that included two triples and seven two-baggers.
Securing honorable mention All-HCAC honors for the second consecutive season was Ben Roeschley who went 4-2 with a 3.05 ERA. Roeschley's .252 opponent batting average is tied for 10th all-time at Bluffton while his 2.07 walks per nine innings is 9th all-time for a single season. He fanned 48 batters this season (12th all-time) and his 65 innings pitched were tied for 10th all-time.
Roeschley finished his distinguished career as the career leader with 54 appearances on the mound. His 14 wins are tied for 3rd all-time while his 207.1 innings pitched are fourth on the career list as are his 144 strikeouts. He is tied with Bob Sierer for the top spot on the shutouts list with two. Roeschley walked just 2.21 batters per nine innings (4th all-time), limited opponents to a .275 batting average (5th all-time) and fanned 6.25 batters per nine innings (tied for 13th all-time). His 21 career starts are 14th all-time.
Earning his first All-Heartland Conference award was junior first baseman Jake Townley who missed the first half of the season but returned to the lineup in time to help Bluffton go 13-6 in his 19 Heartland Conference starts. Townley hit .345 with 10 doubles, 17 RBI and 15 runs in just 21 games this season. He slugged .483 and committed just one error this season, the first of his career in 448 total chances.
In conjunction with the All-Heartland Conference awards, the conference has announced the All-HCAC Sportsmanship Team for the 2014. This award has been developed as part of a conference-wide sportsmanship initiative. Members of the All-HCAC Sportsmanship team are selected by the coaches and their teammates as individuals who demonstrate the ideals of positive sportsmanship both on and off the field/court of competition. Bluffton junior Jeff Roth (Bellevue) was recognized for his sportsmanship this season.
Bluffton crossed the 20-win barrier with a 21-18 mark for the second consecutive season, the first 20-win seasons in school history. The Beavers dropped their first six Heartland Conference contests then won six straight HCAC series for a 13-12 record and fifth place finish, the best finish since the 2006 squad tied for 2nd with an 11-12 mark in HCAC action. Defensively, the 2014 Beavers established new school marks with 1,004 putouts and 1,500 chances. Bluffton also set school records with 11 saves and 334.2 innings pitched.