If you've been following Hustle Belt recently, you know our attention has shifted a bit to baseball, largely because it's turning into summer, the weather is awesome, and it's the last vestige of MACtion until the long cold desolation known as the summer months. The MAC baseball tournament begins May 25, but before that can happen, the final baseball weekly awards have to be handed out.
MAC Baseball East Division Player of the Week
Vinny Mallaro, Buffalo, OF, Jr
Mallaro had another outstanding week for the Bulls as he batted .450 with five home runs and 11 runs batted in during Buffalo’s five games this past week. Mallaro had nine hits all together, including a pair of doubles as he slugged 1.300% and had an on base percentage of .476. Mallaro began the week by homering in both ends of a doubleheader at Niagara on Tuesday including a grand slam home run during a 7-3 victory in the opener of the twinbill. He went 3-for-4 in the second game against the Purple Eagles including a home run and a double as he drove in two runs. In the three-game series against Bowling Green, Mallaro homered in the series opener on Thursday and then on Saturday he hit two home runs, including a three-run shot in the first and a solo shot in the third. Mallaro finished the season with 13 home runs, tying Tom Murphy for the single-season school record. He also finished the year with 52 runs batted in, the second most in a single-season.
MAC Baseball East Division Pitcher of the Week
Eric Lauer, Kent State, LHP, Jr
When having an ERA of 0.81 and coming off a no-hitter, it's hard to improve on that number, but Eric Lauer did just that on Thursday. The ace allowed just one hit in his 5.2 innings, a shortened outing due to the tournament coming up. He has now not allowed a walk or hit batter in 15 straight innings. Lauer is now just 11 strikeouts away from tying Kent State's single season record. He has 116 Ks with a 0.76 ERA this season.
MAC Baseball West Division Player of the Week
Stephen Letz, Northern Illinois, OF, Sr
Letz was outstanding at the plate for the NIU in four games this week to help lead NIU to a 3-1 mark in the final four regular-season games of 2016. The Huskie senior batted .444 as he went 8-for-18 from the plate, while slugging .722. Of his eight hits, three went for extra bases, including a home run in a 7-3 win at Milwaukee, his eighth of the season, and two doubles. Letz drove in a team-high nine runs on the week, while scoring twice. He began the week with a 3-for-5, three RBI performance in the aforementioned win over the Panthers. The NIU outfielder followed that up with a 3-for-5, four RBI game in NIU’s 14-8 victory over Ball State. Letz was 1-for-4 with an RBI in NIU’s 3-2 win over the Cardinals.
MAC Baseball West Division Pitcher of the Week
Ross Achter, Toledo, LHP, Sr
Achter was phenomenal during 7.0 innings in a victory over EMU. Achter allowed just one earned run while scattering six hits and sitting down five batters on strikeouts. Opposing batters hit .240 against Achter while he allowed just eight total batters to reach base.
Congrats to the award winners and join us for full coverage of the MAC baseball tourney beginning May 25.