MORGANTOWN, W.Va – The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) released its National Player of the Week awards for the period ending April 22, today. Stanford freshman third baseman Alex Blandino was named National Hitter of the Week, while UC Irvine sophomore right-hander Andrew Thurman and Penn State junior right-hander Steven Hill were named Co-National Pitchers of the Week. The NCBWA Board reviews candidates from each Division I Conference each week and names winners each Tuesday throughout the season.
Blandino’s week began with a two-run home run on Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to San Jose State. He added two home runs on Friday as a part of a 3-for-4 day with four runs and four RBI in a 19-5 win over No. 20 Arizona State. The Palo Alto native then homered on Saturday and had the game-winning RBI in the ninth of the team’s 8-7 victory. Four of his first seven hits for the week, went for home runs. On Sunday, he doubled, had an RBI single in the eighth and stole third and scored on an poor throw by the catcher, for his eighth run of the week, sealing the victory and sweep of the Sun Devils.
Thurman tallied the fifth no-hitter in UC Irvine history, blanking Long Beach State in the opening game of a series. The Orange, Calif., native hit the first batter and then gave up a walk with two outs in the eighth for the only blemishes of the game. Thurman struck out five, retired 23 straight hitters in between and set down the last four hitters to achieve the first complete game of his career.
Hill threw a nine-inning no-hitter in Penn State’s 2-0 victory over Iowa. The Colleyville, Texas, native faced just two batters over the minimum and struck out three in the outing. He threw 69 of his 105 pitches for strikes and posted the first no-hitter for the Nittany Lions since 1995 and first in the Big Ten since 2009. Hill had some stellar defensive play behind him. Most notably, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Mike McQuillan hit a scorching ball to left field. Senior Sean Deegan made a great read on the ball and ran back to make a fantastic catch. Additionally, in the seventh inning with two outs, Ryan Rumph ripped a ground ball down the first base line. Steranka made a great play on the line and flipped the ball to Hill to end the inning and keep the no-hitter alive.
Founded in 1962, the NCBWA is dedicated to the advancement of college baseball. Membership is open to writers, broadcasters and publicists of the sport. For more information about the NCBWA, visit the association’s official Web site, www.ncbwa.com.