Jacob Lee named Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year, Tommy Raffo gets Coach of the Year honors

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AStateRedWolves.com) – Arkansas State senior Jacob Lee earned Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year honors and ASU head coach Tommy Raffo was selected as the league's Coach of the Year to highlight A-State's selections to the 2012 All-SBC teams, which were announced Tuesday night at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Junior reliever John Koch and sophomore shortstop Dustin Jones also received all-conference honors, with both being named second-team All-Sun Belt Conference at the league's annual Championship Family Night activities leading up to the May 23-27 SBC Tournament.

"We are extremely proud of Jacob, John and Dustin for earning all-conference honors this season and all three have played important roles in the success we have enjoyed," said Raffo.  "For Jacob to come back for his senior season and cap his career with Pitcher of the Year honors in a league as tough as this one is a huge honor.  John has proven time and time again that we can count on him in the late innings to secure a victory for us, and Dustin has worked extremely hard in the off-season and during the year to become one of the top shortstops in the league.  He raised his batting average 100 points over last season and has been outstanding for us defensively.  Every player on our team has contributed to the success we have had this season, but these three are certainly deserving of all-conference honors."

Lee (Jonesboro, Ark.), who was named the league's 2011 Preseason Pitcher of the Year, is the first ASU player in history to be named Pitcher of the Year in the post-season and was also named first-team All-SBC.   He finished the regular season at 8-1, with an ERA of 2.99, a figure that dropped to 2.89 against SBC competition – the lowest among starters in the league.  Lee became ASU's career strikeout leader midway through the year, and finished the season ranked fifth in the leaguewith 75 strikeouts, bringing his career total to 269.  During the season, he held opponents to a batting average of .234 to rank fifth in the league, and opposing batters in the Sun Belt hit just .219 against him, which is the lowest average among starters in the conference.  He gave up just 25 multiple-base hits on the season and struck out a career-high 10 batters March 30 at Troy.  Lee finished the season as ASU's leader in strikeouts, innings pitched (84.1) and wins.

Koch, ASU's closer during the 2012 season, (Fort Smith, Ark.) led the Red Wolves with an ERA of 2.12 to earn second-team All-SBC honors.  He made 27 appearances on the season, helping the Red Wolves to a 28-0 record when leading after eight innings.  During the season, he became the ASU single-season and career saves record holder and stands at 11 saves on the year and 15 for his career heading into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.  He is holding opponents to a .194 batting average to rank first on the team and averages more than a strikeout an inning with 35 strikeouts in 34 innings of work.  He has given up just four multiple-base hits on the season and has not surrendered a triple or ahome run.

One of the most reliable shortstops in the league, Jones hit .313 against Sun Belt competition and .290 on the season, with six doubles and a home run.  Jones ranks fifth in the Sun Belt with 152 assists, with a fielding percentage of .964.  He posted 11 multiple-hit games on the season, including career-highthree-hit outings against SBC foes Troy and FIU.  He put together a 10-game hitting streak during the season and led the team with 10 sacrifice bunts, including sevenagainst SBC competition to finish tied for first in the league.
In his fourth season as head coach at ASU, Raffo led the Red Wolves to 32 victories – the most for any team in the Sun Belt this season, the most for ASU since 2005 and the fourth-most in school history.  He directed the Red Wolves to a 19-9 record against Sun Belt competition and asecond-place finish in the league standings, missing the conference title by just one-half game.  The 19 league wins are the second-most in ASU history, and the second-place finish is the highest for the Red Wolves since the 1993 season, when A-State finished second in the SBC-East.  The Red Wolves finished the regular season with a 9-2 weekend series record, including a perfect 4-0 mark when playing on the road.  He is the first coach since the 2002 season whose team did not win the regular-seasontitle to be named SBC Coach of the Year and joins former ASU head coach Bill Bethea (1994) as the only Arkansas State coaches to have ever been awarded the honor.

"Coach Raffo has obviously done an outstanding job in his four seasons as Arkansas State's head coach," said ASU Director of Athletics, Dr. Dean Lee.  "When he arrived at ASU, he inherited a program that had not won a game in the Sun Belt Conference tournament since 2002, and has turned the Red Wolves into a consistent threat, not only in the tournament but in the league race as well.  In addition to the outstanding performances put forth by his teams on the field, his players excel in the classroom as well.  The ASU baseball team placed 22 players on the fall Athletic Director's Honor Roll and had a team GPA of over 3.0.  We are extremely fortunate to have Coach Raffo as our head coach here at Arkansas State."

Chance Cleveland (UALR, Jr., SP)
Jacob Lee (Arkansas State, Sr., SP)
Ryan Garton (Florida Atlantic, Sr., SP)
R.J. Alvarez (Florida Atlantic, Jr., RP)
Blake Johnson (UALR, Jr., C)
Logan Pierce (Troy, Jr., 1B)
Mike Albaladejo (Florida Atlantic, Sr., 2B)
Jeremy Sy (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., SS)
Mike Martinez (FIU, Sr., 3B)
Sean Bignall (UALR, Sr., OF)
Jabari Henry (FIU, Jr., OF)
Justin Guidry (Middle Tennessee, Sr., OF)
Whitt Dorsey (South Alabama, Jr., DH)
Myles Parma (UALR, Jr., UTIL)

Randy Zeigler (Louisiana-Monroe, Jr., SP)
Johnathan Frebis (Middle Tennessee, Fr., SP)
Jarron Cito (South Alabama,Jr., SP)
John Koch (Arkansas State, Jr., RP)
Mike Spano (Florida Atlantic, C, Jr.)
Joey Rapp (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., 1B)
Johnny Thomas (Middle Tennessee, Jr., 2B)
Dustin Jones (Arkansas State, So., SS)
Hank LaRue (Middle Tennessee, So., 3B)
Cameron Bentley (UALR, Sr., OF)
Pablo Bermudez (FIU, Jr., OF)
Jordan Patterson (South Alabama, So., OF)
Adam Kirsch (FIU, Jr., DH)
Scott Wilcox (WKU, So., UTIL)

Jeremy Sy (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., SS)

Jacob Lee (Arkansas State, Sr., SP)

Johnathan Frebis (Middle Tennessee, Fr., SP)

Tommy Raffo, Arkansas State