BELOIT—The honors just keep on rolling in for Beloit College’s baseball team, which set numerous school batting records, went 24-6 overall and won the MWC North Division.
Sophomore second baseman Matt O’Leary has been named a Third Team All-American by d3baseball.com and the American Baseball Coaches Association sponsored by Rawlings. Fellow sophomore and former Beloit Memorial Purple Knight Brett Kiger, who was mainly a designated hitter, earned Honorable Mention on the same squad.
The duo are the first to earn All-America status in Buccaneer baseball history. They led one of the nation’s top slugging teams this spring. They were both MWC All-North selections and joined teammates Matt Crandall and Bronson Balholm in earning All-Central Region honors from a pair of associations. O’Leary and Kiger were selected First Team All-Central for both d3baseball.com and the American Baseball Coaches Association. Balholm was a Third Team selection from d3baseball.com while Crandall was picked for the Third Team by the ABCA.
O’Leary set a new bar for Buccaneer hitters. He led the team in batting average (.420), slugging percentage (.768), hits (47), home runs (8), runs batted in (49), and on base percentage (.527).
From Clarendon Hills., Ill., O’Leary ranked among the top 35 in the country in RBI while posting the seventh-best RBI rate per game in the nation. He is also among the top 50 in on base percentage, runs per game and slugging percentage.
O’Leary set the program’s season record for RBI and homers, ranks second with four triples and had the fifth-best batting average in a season in program history. He also helped set team records with two triples in a game against Lawrence, as well as a three-home run, seven RBI outing against St. Norbert in April. O’Leary was the only player in the league to register three homers in a single game this season.
Kiger also had a breakout season. His weight training paid off as he blasted eight homers, fourth-most in the league and tied for the program record for four-baggers in a season. His .745 slugging percentage was second in the conference to O’Leary, who hit before him in the Bucs’ batting order. He hit .383 and posted an on-base percentage of .519, top six marks in the MWC.
Half of Kiger’s 36 hits went for extra bases this season with 10 doubles and the eight round trippers as he drove in 47 runs, third in the league and third in program history. He also tallied seven RBI in a game this season tying the program record on May 13 at Chicago. When he wasn’t hitting, he was often getting hit. Kiger was pegged 11 times this season, ranked sixth in program history.
On the national stage, Kiger ranks third in the country in RBI per game, driving in 1.68 runs per contest.
Senior catcher Balholm captained the Bucs. The switch hitter also got the job done in either batter’s box, posting a .342 batting average and registering 40 hits, a mark ranked among the top 15 in the league.
Balholm’s 45 runs scored and six triples were second in the league and top two in the program record book. He also tallied 12 doubles, seventh among league players. Balholm’s four walks in a game and four runs scored in a game both lead the league this season. The dependable senior has played in 107 games in his four-year career as a Buc. He sits second in the program record book with seven career triples and fifth with 116 career hits.
Crandall started all 30 games for the Bucs in center field. A speedy ballhawk, he also hit .362. His .638 slugging percentage was sixth-best in the MWC this season as he posted nine doubles, a triple, six home runs and drove in 29 runs. His seven RBI against Ripon on April 3 ties the program record and led the league this season.