The three-time champion Bombers took home the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards, as well as seven first-team All-TCL winners, while the Cane Cutters grabbed the other two TCL awards.
The Brazos Valley Bombers continued their win streak Thursday when the Texas Collegiate League announced the winners of its annual awards and the All-TCL team.
Days after capturing an unprecedented third-straight TCL title, the Bombers took home two of the league’s four major awards. Brazos Valley’s opponent in the TCL Championship Series, the Acadiana Cane Cutters, nabbed the other two TCL awards.
For the first time, the TCL named a first team and a second team All-TCL squad. The Bombers placed a league-high seven on the first team and racked up a total of ten All-TCL players. Acadiana was second on both counts, with four Cane Cutters named to the first team and eight overall.
Geonte Jackson was named TCL Player of the Year, the first Bomber ever to win the award. Jackson led the league with a .379 average, the highest figure for a TCL batting champion in six years. He finished second in the league in runs (37), tied for third in hits (55), tied for fourth in RBI (27), and tied for fifth in homers (three). Jackson slugged a .483, good for third in the league, and his .471 on-base percentage also topped the circuit. After his third game of the season, on June 4, the junior from the University of Texas at San Antonio never went two-straight nights without reaching base by a hit or a walk.
The TCL Pitcher of the Year went to Acadiana righty Daniel Martinez after he captured the first pitching triple crown in league history. Martinez tied for the TCL lead with eight wins versus just one defeat, posting a league-leading 1.40 ERA and 43 strikeouts on the season. The freshman walked just seven and allowed 42 hits in 58 innings, holding opponents to a .194 batting average. The University of New Orleans hurler was dominating throughout the season, never allowing more than two earned runs in any of his ten appearances.
Martinez was bested by teammate Daniel Keating for TCL Freshman of the Year. A rookie outfielder from Southern Miss, Keating was fourth in the league with a .335 average and led the TCL with 60 hits. He also finished second in the league with 13 doubles and 31 stolen bases, and he tied for third with three triples. He also scored 32 runs and drove in 20 more. Like Jackson, after June 4, Keating never went two-straight games without reaching base by virtue of a hit or a walk.
The Cane Cutters had taken home three of the previous four Player of the Year awards, but they had never before netted either the Pitcher of the Year or Freshman of the Year honor. Keating’s award also broke the East Texas Pump Jacks’ streak of winning or sharing the Freshman of the Year award for six-straight years.
One streak that remains intact is Curt Dixon’s hold over the TCL Coach of the Year award. The Bombers’ skipper took home the honor for the fourth consecutive season, easily tops in league history. Brazos Valley swept both the first and second-half titles with a 42-9 regular season record for an .821 winning percentage, a new TCL record. In addition to the three-straight TCL championships, Dixon and the Bombers have won the last seven half-season titles and they’ve had the top record in the regular season four-straight years.
Three of Dixon’s Bombers and two Victoria Generals split the All-TCL first team infield. Brazos Valley teammates Tyler Lawrence (catcher) and Jimmy Norris (second base) joined first baseman Jackson on the first team. Lawrence finished second in the TCL with a .367 average and slugged .475, while Norris batted .301 and led the league with 34 steals.
Victoria’s Pedro Barrios, who was named the All-TCL second baseman last season, batted .322 and tied for the league lead with four triples to earn a spot on the first team at third base this summer. Fellow General Donivan Lopez batted .313 and stole 12 bases in 39 games to grab the first team’s shortstop position.
Keating was joined in the first team All-TCL outfield by his Cane Cutters teammate, Zak Kutsulis. Kutsulis finished third in the league with a .349 average and 35 runs and was second with 59 hits, adding 17 stolen bases. Rounding out the first team outfield was Brazos Valley’s Matt Hilston, the TCL RBI champion. Hilston tied for fifth in the league with three homers, drove in 35 runs, and batted .299 on the season.
Romeo Cortina finished in the top-five in batting average (.326, fifth), homers (four, tied-second), and RBI (26, tied-sixth) in just 33 games for the Generals to earn the first team designated hitter position.
Martinez was named the first team righty while Brazos Valley’s Mike Walker was his opposite at the left-hander spot. Walker went 4-1 and finished fourth in the league with a 2.22 ERA in nine starts.
First team reliever C.J. Gregory tied Martinez for the league lead with eight wins and posted a 1.33 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched.
The first team utility position was shared by Blake Kopetsky from the Bombers and Acadiana’s Taylor Braley. An All-TCL outfield in 2013, Kopetsky batted .297 and posted a 1.80 ERA in seven appearances on the mound for Brazos Valley. Braley batted .324 in 27 games at third base and had a 1.42 ERA in four pitching performances.
The second team All-TCL squad included players from all six TCL organizations, led by five members of the East Texas Pump Jacks.
The second team infield had Pump Jacks teammates Tyler Moore at catcher and Niko Buentello at first base. Acadiana’s Conner Short earned the nod at second base, while both the third base and shortstop positions were shared. Braley and the Bombers’ Trent Goodrich split third, and Lance Miles from the Woodlands Strykers and Chance Vincent from the Cane Cutters shared honors at short. Vincent had been the TCL All-TCL third baseman in 2014.
T.J. Friedl from East Texas, Ben Hollas out of Brazos Valley, and Victoria’s Darien Simms made up the second team outfield, and James Ziegler from the Cane Cutters was named designated hitter.
The second team pitchers were right-hander Ethan Landon from the Bombers, and lefty Franklin Miller and reliever Tyler Adams, both out of East Texas.
Like the first team, the second team utility spot was a split decision, shared by Jake McKenzie from the Texas Marshals and Caden Williams from Victoria.
All award winners are listed below.
2015 TCL Award Winners
Player of the Year: Geonte Jackson, Brazos Valley
Pitcher of the Year: Daniel Martinez, Acadiana
Freshman of the Year: Daniel Keating, Acadiana
Coach of the Year: Curt Dixon, Brazos Valley
2015 All-TCL Teams
2015 All-TCL First Team
Catcher: Tyler Lawrence, Brazos Valley
First Base: Geonte Jackson, Brazos Valley
Second Base: Jimmy Norris, Brazos Valley
Third Base: Pedro Barrios, Victoria
Shortstop: Donivan Lopez, Victoria
Outfield: Zak Kutsulis, Acadiana
Outfield: Matt Hilston, Brazos Valley
Outfield: Daniel Keating, Acadiana
Designated Hitter: Romeo Cortina, Victoria
Right-Handed Pitcher: Daniel Martinez, Acadiana
Left-Handed Pitcher: Mike Walker, Brazos Valley
Relief Pitcher: C.J. Gregory, Brazos Valley
Utility: Taylor Braley, Acadiana & Blake Kopetsky, Brazos Valley
2015 All-TCL Second Team
Catcher: Tyler Moore, East Texas
First Base: Niko Buentello, East Texas
Second Base: Conner Short, Acadiana
Third Base: Taylor Braley, Acadiana & Trent Goodrich, Brazos Valley
Shortstop: Lance Miles, Woodlands & Chance Vincent, Acadiana
Outfield: T.J. Friedl, East Texas
Outfield: Ben Hollas, Brazos Valley
Outfield: Darien Simms, Victoria
Designated Hitter: James Ziegler, Acadiana
Right-Handed Pitcher: Ethan Landon, Brazos Valley
Left-Handed Pitcher: Franklin Miller, East Texas
Relief Pitcher: Tyler Adams, East Texas
Utility: Jake McKenzie, Texas & Caden Williams, Victoria