Collegiate national team member Ricky Tyler Thomas has been recognized as USA Baseball’s top player at the organization’s annual awards ceremony for 2016.
Thomas was named the winner of the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award, given in honor of USA Baseball’s founding executive director and chief executive.
He has become the 11th collegiate national team member to earn the Athlete of the Year prize in recognition of his performance as a relief pitcher.
Thomas entered the decisive match of a five-game international friendship series against Cuba with the scored tied 1-1 in the fourth inning and allowed just two hits over the final 5.1 innings, sealing victory for the United States.
The lefty finished the summer tour with a 0.95 earned run average (ERA), was third on the team in innings pitched with 19 and was tied for the team-lead with 21 strikeouts.
Additionally, the collegiate national team was crowned USA Baseball’s Team of the Year after winning the first-ever series on Cuban soil behind Thomas’ pitching and Keston Hiura’s heroics.
Hiura hit a solo home run in in the eighth inning to give the US their 2-1 win in game five of the series in Pinar del Río on July 27.
Last year marked the first time a visiting team has won the international friendship series between Cuba and the US.
The team traveled more than 20,000 miles during the course of its summer tour, also participating in friendship series in Chinese Taipei and Japan.
They finished with an 11-7-1 record and the success led to their manager, George Horton, being named the USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year.
“George Horton is very deserving of being named the USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year,” said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball’s general manager of national teams.
“His ability to handle the unique challenges of the summer tour while creating positive developmental and personal interactions with the players was first-class, and leading that group of young men to a series win in Cuba for the first time in our history was remarkable.”
Horton will be honored at the Golden Spikes Award and Rod Dedeaux Award Dinner, which is expected to be held at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles on June 29.
Tamara Holmes of the women’s national team was named the Sportswoman of the Year for the second time in her career following her outstanding performance at the 2016 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s World Cup in Gijang County in South Korea, where she was crowned the batting champion and named to the all-world team.
A seven-time USA Baseball alumni, Holmes finished the tournament with a 0.765 batting average, starting in all seven games of the tournament.
She slugged 1.235 with three doubles, one triple and a home run for the US, and finished with 13 runs batted in (RBIs).
Holmes retired from international baseball following the tournament.
USA Baseball’s International Performance of the Year went to under-18 national team pitcher Hans Crouse after his domination of the gold medal game at the 2016 Pan American “AAA” Championships in Mexican city Monterrey.
Crouse was given the start on the mound in the final against Cuba, pitching 4.2 innings of perfect baseball before surrendering a walk and a hit in the fifth inning.
He finished the game with 11 strikeouts in seven innings of one-hit baseball and led the under-18 national team to its sixth consecutive gold medal in international competition.
Under-18 national team manager Glenn Cecchini was named the Developmental Coach of the Year after leading his side to a gold medal for the second straight summer.
Skip Schumaker, a USA Baseball alumni and two-time World Series champion, was crowned the USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year after serving as the assistant coach for the US team on the under-14 National Team Development Program.
“USA Baseball is proud to honour these outstanding performances from 2016,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s executive director and chief executive.
“In addition to representing their respective teams at an exceptional level, they were outstanding global ambassadors for the game of baseball and represented our organization and our country with class and dignity on the world stage.”
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.