MACON, Ga. (School Release) - After helping the Mercer baseball team to its first Atlantic Sun Regular Season Title in program history, several Bears received A-Sun Conference postseason honors as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.
10th-year head coach Craig Gibson was named A-Sun Conference Coach of the Year while sophomore third baseman Chesny Young was named the A-Sun Conference Player of the Year and junior Brandon Barker was voted the A-Sun Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The awards didn't stop there, however, as the Bears tied a program record with five players receiving first or second team All-Conference selections. Young, juniors Nick Backlund and Derrick Workman and sophomore Dimitri Kourtis were voted onto the first team while junior Brandon Barker was named to the second team.
For Gibson, the Coach of the Year honor brings his A-Sun Conference career full circle as he becomes the first person in league history to be named both Coach of the Year and Player of the Year, which he secured back in 1985. Gibson has transformed Mercer into one of the top mid-major programs in the nation as he has led the Bears to 38 or more wins in each of the last four seasons, joining North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State and South Carolina as the only five teams in the nation to accomplish the feat.
Young followed up his A-Sun Freshman of the Year campaign was an even more impressive sophomore season by becoming the first Mercer player to win A-Sun Player of the Year since Coach Gibson did it in 1985. The Atlanta, Ga. native leads both the A-Sun Conference and the nation with 95 hits in 2013 while ranking second in the league with a .388 batting average on the strength of a team-high 29 multi-hit games. Young is currently in the midst of a 25-game hitting streak that is the longest active streak in the nation and the longest of any player in the A-Sun Conference this season. He also ranks second in the A-Sun with 56 RBI, third with a .449 on-base percentage and 55 runs scored and fourth in the league with 128 total bases.
Backlund is putting up power numbers that are once again rivaling the top hitters in the nation this season. The San Jose, Calif. leads the A-Sun Conference with 63 RBI, 20 doubles, 13 home runs and 132 total bases. No one player has led the A-Sun Conference in RBI, doubles, home runs and total bases in the same season since Georgia Southern first baseman Craig Cooper accomplished the feat back in 1986. Backlund also ranks second in the league with a .592 slugging percentage, fifth with a .431 on-base percentage and eighth with 73 hits.
Workman continues to prove he is one of the best outfielders in the country with yet another solid all-around season for the Bears. The Acworth, Ga. native ranks in the top-six in the A-Sun Conference in almost every statistical category including on-base percentage (2nd - .453), slugging percentage (3rd - .588), home runs (4th - 9), RBI (5th - 48), doubles (5th - 16), total bases (5th - 114), walks (5th - 34) and batting average (6th - .345). Workman was also recently recognized as one of just 60 players across the country named to the Midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List on May 2.
Kourtis has developed as a sophomore from an off and on again starter into one of the most electric relievers in the country. The Alpharetta, Ga. native leads the A-Sun Conference and ranks third on the all-time Mercer single-season list with nine saves in 2013. Kourtis ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 31 relief appearances to go along with four starts this season and has a 5-1 record. He is holding opposing hitters to a .242 batting average, owns a stellar 3.4-to-1.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio and hasn't allowed a home run the entire season.
Barker has cemented himself as the ace of the Mercer rotation by going 7-1 with a 1.90 ERA while maintaining a 3.61 GPA as an engineering major. The Woodstock, Ga. native currently leads the A-Sun Conference with 15 games started and ranks second in the league with 76 strikeouts and third with his 1.90 ERA. Barker also ranks fourth in the A-Sun with a .232 opponents' batting average and tied for ninth with 80.2 innings pitched.
Young, Workman and junior Austin Barrett joined Barker on the A-Sun Conference All-Academic team, giving Mercer a league-high four members on the squad.
East Tennessee State senior Kerry Doane was named A-Sun Pitcher of the Year while Stetson first baseman Patrick Mazeika was named the A-Sun Freshman of the Year.
Mercer is back in action when it begins A-Sun Tournament play as the No. 1 seed on May 22. The Bears take on No. 8 USC Upstate in the first round at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon at Melching Field in DeLand, Fla.