Latkofsky named HCAC Freshman of Year
May 15, 2018
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University baseball team reaped the benefits of its first trip to the Heartland Conference tournament when the All-HCAC awards were handed out on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Jacob Latkofsky (Temperance, Mich./Ida) was the Freshman of the Year, while fellow freshman Garrett O'Reilly (Galena/Orange) joined him on the First Team. Junior Dante D'Andrea (Westerville/North) was a Second Team All-Heartland selection and Colin Gregory (Fremont/Clyde) secured Honorable Mention recognition.
Latkofsky joined 2017 graduate Luke Hickey as the only baseball players in Bluffton University history to earn Freshman of the Year honors in the Heartland Conference. He was a fixture in the lineup from day one at Ohio Wesleyan, starting all 39 games in the infield. The FOY hit .319 with 45 hits, second on the team, 24 runs scored and 19 RBI. Latkofsky drew a team-high 19 walks and finished the season with a .417 on-base percentage.
Freshman Garrett O'Reilly showed his versatility on the mound and in the field en route to First Team All-HCAC honors as the utility selection. He was 7th in the conference with a 3.05 ERA and his eight starts tied him for team-high honors. O'Reilly walked just 11 batters in 41.1 innings, working his longest outing at the Heartland Conference tournament (8 innings). He took over as the starting second baseman as Bluffton closed in on its first-ever tournament berth, hitting at a .306 clip with nine runs scored and a .417 slugging percentage.
Junior Dante D'Andrea led the conference with 19 appearance and his 2.59 ERA was 5th best in the HCAC. His six wins are tied for 3rd in the conference and they moved him to 14th on Bluffton's career list as D'Andrea has 10 victories as a Beaver. The swiss army knife is Bluffton's all-time leader with a .242 opponent batting average, while his 3.24 ERA is 8th all-time. He held the opposition to a miniscule .214 OBA and his 42 strikeouts were tops on the team. D'Andrea also added two crucial saves this season.
Colin Gregory had a breakout season for the Beavers on his way to Honorable Mention All-HCAC honors. He led the team with a .356 batting average, 53 hits, 39 runs scored (5th all-time), 13 doubles, three triples and a .564 slugging percentage. His grand slam against Transylvania on the final weekend propelled the Beavers into the HCAC tournament with a sweep of the Pioneers on Senior Day and he followed that up with Bluffton's first Heartland Conference run, another homer to left in game one of the tourney against Manchester. Gregory drove in 28 runs and swiped six bases.
Bluffton capped off its fourth 20-win season with a berth in the Heartland Conference tournament despite returning just two hurlers who tossed more than seven innings in 2017. With four freshmen in the starting lineup, the Beavers gave battle-tested HCAC heavyweights Manchester and Anderson all they could handle in the tournament after handing conference champion Franklin its only loss in 21 games against HCAC competition this season!
In conjunction with the All-Heartland Conference awards, the conference has announced the All-HCAC Sportsmanship Team for the 2019. 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 senior RYAn GOLDEN (Findlay) was recognized for his sportsmanship this season.