June 7, 2012
PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's baseball team was voted the Philadelphia Big 5 Baseball Team of the Year, the organization announced on Thursday morning. Also pulling in Big 5 honors were head coach Fritz Hamburg, who earned the Coach of the Year award, and junior pitcher Kyle Mullen, who was named the Big 5 Pitcher of the Year.
Saint Joseph's tied a program record with 25 victories this season and posted a 13-10 mark in the Atlantic 10, giving the Hawks their first winning mark in conference play since 1984. SJU also qualified for its first-ever berth in the Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship, where the Hawks earned a pair of victories over third-seeded Rhode Island.
The Hawks also claimed their first-ever Liberty Bell Classic championship, defeating Penn, 6-3, at Citizens Bank Park on April 17. The game marked SJU's third title game appearance in the 21-year history of the event, and the first time the Crimson and Gray took the field at the current home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hamburg earned his second Big 5 Coach of the Year award after previously receiving the honor in his first season on Hawk Hill back in 2009. He has guided the Hawks to 80 wins in his four seasons, ranking him fifth in program annals.
Under Hamburg's stewardship, the Hawks have increased their win total in each of the past three seasons, the longest such stretch since 1986-88. SJU has won at least 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since a four-year run of 20-plus wins from 1998 to 2001, and the Hawks posted their third straight double-digit victory total in conference play this season to match the longest such streak in program history (2001-03).
Mullen capped off his breakout junior campaign with the Big 5 Pitcher of the Year award, the first Hawk to earn the honor in the seven-year history of Philadelphia Big 5 Baseball. He led the Hawk staff with a 6-4 record and posted a career-low 3.07 earned run average in a school-record and Big 5-leading 105 and two-thirds innings in 2012. Mullen added three complete games on the year, including a masterful 84-pitch gem to shut out Massachusetts on April 13, and also tied Jamie Moyer's single-season strikeout record of 90 that was originally set in 1984. The Hawks were 8-0 in Atlantic 10 play when Mullen took the hill as the righthander posted a 5-0 mark with a sparkling 1.99 earned run average in league games. Mullen also led the Atlantic 10 in strikeouts in conference play and was among the league leaders in innings pitched, earned run average, starts, and victories.
For his efforts, Mullen was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team, the first Hawk starting pitcher to ever receive that honor. He was also selected as the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Week twice and the Big 5 Baseball Pitcher of the Week three times.
Taylor was also voted onto the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team, giving the Hawks two First Teamers for the second time in program history and the first since 1995. The first baseman led the Atlantic 10 in home runs in conference play with six, and his eight for the season are tied for the fourth-highest single-season mark in SJU history. Taylor led the Hawks in home runs, runs batted in (32), and slugging percentage (.414) this season, and his .346 batting average in conference play was the top mark on the squad.
Taylor graduates tied for the sixth spot on the program's all-time home run list with 17 and ranked 27th in career hits with 143. He also shattered the SJU single-season record for putouts with a league-leading 521; Taylor posted a magnificent .989 fielding percentage as well, committing just six errors in a league-most 553 chances.
The senior was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week on April 9 while also pulling in Big 5 Player of the Week honors on April 16 and May 21.
O'Keefe took over the starting catcher's job early in the season and eventually played in 53 games, making 47 starts as a freshman. He led the team in doubles, ranked second in slugging percentage, and finished third on the squad in at bats, hits, and home runs. O'Keefe ended the season by reaching base in 14 consecutive games.
Behind the plate, O'Keefe threw out 19 runners attempting to steal while picking off four more and made just four three errors in 337 chances for an outstanding .991 fielding percentage. As a whole, the Hawks posted a .969 fielding percentage as a team, the best in program history.
Originally formed in 2006 as the Philadelphia Diamond Five before taking on its current moniker in 2007, Philadelphia Big 5 Baseball was founded with the goal of increasing the exposure of college baseball in the Philadelphia area. Big 5 Baseball selects a Player and Pitcher of the Week throughout the season, as well as the All-Big 5 Team and awards at the end of the season. Voting for all weekly and postseason honors is conducted among the head coaches and sports information offices of the five Division I baseball programs in the Philadelphia area: La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple, and Villanova.