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NCBWA Stopper of the Year

stopper_250Birmingham, Ala. (NCBWA) — Five of college baseball’s top relief specialists have been selected as finalists for the fifth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, the NCBWA announced Wednesday.

This year’s finalists include NCAA saves leader Addison Reed of San Diego State, Kyle Bellamy of Miami (Fla.), Jake Hale of Ohio State, Matty Ott of LSU and Eric Pettis of UC Irvine. All five relief aces helped their respective teams advance to the 64-team field of the 2009 NCAA Baseball Tournament, which continues this weekend at eight super regional sites across the nation.

Reed, with an NCAA-leading 20 saves, was an automatic qualifier for this year’s award. Reed recorded 20 saves in 20 opportunities this season. He finished the season with a microscopic 0.65 earned run average and 38 strikeouts over his 27.2 innings of work. He has allowed only seven walks, with two of those being intentional passes.

Bellamy, who was recently named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, is among the national leaders with 16 saves this season. In 46.1 innings pitched, the Davie, Fla. native has allowed just five earned runs while striking out 63 and carrying a 0.97 ERA. Bellamy (3-1) is a perfect 16-for-16 in save opportunities. Twelve of his 16 saves this season have come from more than an inning of work.

Ott, the 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year, has recorded 15 saves this season, setting a new high for the most single-season saves in LSU history. The right-hander from Metairie, La., has a 3-2 record and a 2.22 ERA this season with an amazing four walks and 62 strikeouts in 44.2 innings. Ott is the first LSU true freshman to earn national honors since 2001, when pitcher Lane Mestepey was named a third-team All-America.

Hale, a first-team All-Big 10 selection has conference-leading figures in saves (18), appearances, and games finished. In Big Ten games only, his 1.09 ERA and .165 opponents’ batting average also lead the conference.

UC Irvine junior right-hander Eric Pettis finished the season with 17 saves, matching his total from a year ago. Pettis, a finalist for the Stopper Award last season as well, made 29 relief appearances, compiling a 3.86 earned run average with a 5-2 record and 37 strikeouts in 42 innings. Pettis’ exploits out of the bullpen helped the Anteaters earn a No. 1 ranking during the season and a No. 6 national seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

More than 45 of the nation’s top collegiate relief pitchers were included in the selection process for this year’s NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, beginning with initial preseason nominations by baseball contacts at NCAA Division I schools.

The NCBWA’s All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year’s recipient to be announced Saturday, June 13, the opening day of the 2009 College World Series.

Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006, Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State in 2007 and Georgia’s Joshua Fields topping the field last season.

The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation’s top player. It also selects a Division I All-America Team, Division I and III Players of the Week, Division I District Players of the Year and Division II and III Players of the Year.

The Stopper of the Year will also be recognized on the College Baseball Awards show, July 2 in Lubbock, Texas.

This event will feature the presentation of the Dick Howser Trophy to the National Player of the Year. Other awards scheduled to be presented during the show include the Brooks Wallace Award, honoring the nation’s best shortstop, and the Pitcher of the Year Award. All of the NCBWA season awards will be recognized during the show.

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