WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Junior Connor Panas was named the MAAC Player of the Year while fellow junior Rohn Pierce was named the MAAC Pitcher of the Year at the MAAC awards banquet held on the campus on Monmouth University on Tuesday afternoon. Coach Mike McRae was named the Anaconda Sports Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career.
A program-record eight Golden Griffins earned conference honors – Panas, Pierce, senior Ronnie Bernick, sophomores Alex Godzak, Anthony Massicci and Brett Siddall were voted to the All-MAAC First Team while freshman Christ Conley and junior Jesse Puscheck earned All-MAAC Second-Team accolades. The eight selections are the most since Manhattan had eight selections in 2009.
Panas becomes the fourth player in program history to be named MAAC Player of the Year and third in the last six years. The third baseman, who was a unanimous choice to the First Team, is second in the conference in batting average (.358) and first in home runs (six), RBI (48) and slugging percentage (.590). A two-time MAAC Player of the Week, Panas leads the team with 20 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI games.
A unanimous selection as Pitcher of the Year and to the All-MAAC First Team, Pierce is the second player in program history to win the Pitcher of the Year award. Pierce is 10-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 97.2 innings with only 16 walks. The righthander is one of six pitchers in the country with at least 10 wins, 95 innings pitched and an ERA under 2.10. He has gone at least six innings in all 13 starts and has not walked more than two batters this season.
McRae also won the Coach of the Year award in 2008 and 2010 at Canisius to go along with his 2003 award at Niagara. The 10th-year coach of the Griffs has won the award four times, the second most of any coach in league history. He has led the Griffs to a 38 wins for the fourth time in seven years, a program-record 20 MAAC wins, the first win over a ranked team in program history and to a No. 29 ranking in this week’s Collegiate Baseball Top 30 poll.
Bernick earned the utility spot on the All-MAAC First Team after starting 24 games at shortstop and 15 games at catcher. A Second-Team All-MAAC selection last year, Bernick is hitting .295 with 32 runs scored.
Godzak gives Canisius two pitchers on the All-MAAC First Team after earning All-MAAC Second-Team honors as a season. The 2013 MAAC Rookie of the Year, Godzak is 9-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He second in the MAAC in ERA and 26th nationally with nine wins.
Massicci ranks fourth in the MAAC in batting average (.342), second in runs scored (42), first in walks (38) and second in on-base percentage (.470). He has scored 34 runs and worked 29 walks in the last 31 games.
A two-time MAAC Player of the Week, Siddall leads the MAAC with a .359 batting average while ranking second in slugging (.529) and fourth in RBI (42). The Windsor, Ontario native leads the team with six three-hit games and starts the postseason on a career-best 12 game-hitting streak.
Conley is the first Canisius freshman position player to earn conference honors since Brian Burton in 2008. The catcher is fifth on the team in batting average (.339) and ranks first in the country among freshmen with a .469 on-base percentage.
Puscheck has made 40 starts at designated hitter and reached base in 45 of 50 games. The North Tonawanda, N.Y. native is hitting .305 with 37 runs scored, 37 RBI and 26 walks.
Ten Golden Griffins were named to the MAAC All-Academic Team – seniors Ryan Coppinger and Jesse Kelso, Panas, Pierce and fellow juniors Aaron Capser, Mike Krische, Devon Stewart and Eric Stolzenburg and Siddall along with fellow sophomore Iannick Remillard.
The No. 1 seed Golden Griffins open play in the 2014 MAAC Championship on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against an opponent to be determined. The six-team, double-elimination tournament is taking place at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J.