David Berg was officially crowned the conference’s best pitcher Wednesday afternoon, but coaches likely kicked themselves sore long before then.
Lightly recruited out of Bishop Amat High, the sidewinder came out of nowhere a year ago to lead the league in ERA (1.46) and set a record for appearances (50). As a sophomore, he became Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year with an even more dominant effort, one that has seen him collect a school-record 18 saves.
A quick run down of some other impressive numbers: a 0.70 ERA, best in the country; 0.78 WHIP, second in the country; 64 innings pitched, only 6.2 behind midweek starter Cody Poteet.
“You can’t really have a year as a reliever than he’s had this year,” coach John Savage said. “You’re talking about innings, hits per innings, walks per nine. You’re talking about strikeouts, saves, wins. He’s done it all. He should be up for not only Pitcher of the Year, but Player of the Year.”
Berg entered the season as a setup man, the position he’ll likely play in the pros, but became the closer when freshman reliever James Kaprielian was injured early in the season. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the 6-foot righty became the third Bruin to win Pitcher of the Year — after Trevor Bauer (2011) and Pete Janicki (1992).
“We wouldn’t be where we are without him,” Savage said.
Pat Valaika also became the first Bruin to win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, bolstering his first appearance on the all-conference team. The junior committed just five errors in 174 chances, tying the lowest mark for Pac-12 shortstops. He also leads the team in multiple hitting categories, including home runs, RBI and slugging percentage.
Pitchers Nick Vander Tuig and Adam Plutko made the All-Pac-12 team for the second and third time, respectively. Outfielder Brian Carroll and infielder Kevin Kramer earned honorable mentions.
Conference champion Oregon State took the other three major awards: sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto won Player of the Year after leading the league in OBP (.457); pitcher Andrew Moore took Freshman of the Year after notching 12 wins; Pat Casey was named Coach of the Year.
You can see the entire all-conference roster below the jump. Continue reading “David Berg, Pat Valaika win Pac-12 honors” »