By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern baseball program landed 10 individuals on the 2019 Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference squad, the league office announced Tuesday morning.
Seniors Jackson Buda (Norton), Blake Lester (Chesepeake), and Caleb Thomas (Strongsville), juniors Scott Beaton (Novi, Mich.) and Sean Sweeney (Morrow/Little Miami), and sophomores Matthew Burkett (Maumee), Alex Dodson (West Chester/Lakota West), James Fisher (Castalia/Margaretta), Andy Mills (Cincinnati/St. Xavier), and Michael Rocco (Orlando, Fla./Zionsville, Ind.) were each honored with the award this year.
To receive Academic All-OAC honors, student-athletes must be a sophomore-or-higher in academic standing, maintain varsity-level status during the season, and own a minimum 3.50 cumulative grade-point average.
The OAC office recognized 417 student-athletes from the league's 10 member institutions in 10 sports this spring for their commitment to academic excellence. In all, Ohio Northern had 57 student-athletes honored with the award.
Buda, a senior left-handed pitcher studying management, was honored for the third consecutive season. He was also named All-OAC Honorable Mention for the first time in his career this year.
The senior appeared in 14 games out of the Polar Bear bullpen, posting a 2-0 record and one save in 32.1 innings pitched this year. His stats included 15 strikeouts and a 1.68 ERA, the lowest among the ONU pitching staff (minimum 10 innings).
During his career, Buda has appeared in 26 total contests and compiled an undefeated 3-0 record with one save. He owns a 2.34 career ERA with 25 strikeouts in 50.0 total innings.
Lester is a senior right-handed pitcher from Chesepeake. The civil engineering student was honored for the first time in his career with the announcement.
He appeared in a career-high 11 games during his senior campaign, starting five games to record a 2-1 record in 29.0 innings. His numbers included a 5.59 ERA, a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 30 total strikeouts, which ended second-best among the pitching staff.
Lester has appeared in 19 contests with nine starts over his career. He has posted a 3-4 overall record and a 4.80 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 54.1 innings.
Thomas, a senior mechanical engineering major, is a three-time Academic All-OAC honoree, a two-time CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District 7 selection, a one-time CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-American, and a 2018 All-OAC First-Team selection.
In 39 games, Thomas registered a .271 batting average with 42 hits in 155 official at-bats. He led the team with two home runs and tied for second with 24 RBI while adding 14 runs and six doubles.
Thomas ends his career with a .271 career batting average with 135 hits, 85 RBI, 32 doubles, nine home runs, and four stolen bases. He currently ranks eighth all-time at Ohio Northern with 32 career doubles and sits 32nd on the all-time hits list with 135 base knocks.
Beaton, who was honored for the second straight season, is a junior pitcher studying sport management and communications.
During the 2019 season, the right-handed hurler tossed 20.1 innings in 15 total appearances. He posted a 6.64 ERA, 13 strikeouts, and a save during his third year at Ohio Northern.
He also recorded five base hits, two RBI, and three runs on a .250 batting average this season.
Beaton has pitched 65.1 innings in 42 career appearances, including a school-record 23 pitching appearances in 2018, during his career at ONU. He owns a 2-4 career record with three saves, a 3.86 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and a 6.06 K/9 ratio.
Sweeney is a first-time honoree and serves as an outfielder/left-handed pitcher for the Polar Bears. He is currently an exercise physiology student at the university.
This year, the junior tossed 6.1 innings in nine relief appearances on the mound. He recorded eight strikeouts and his first career save in a 4-2 victory over nonconference foe Wright-St. Lake.
Burkett, a sophomore accounting student, was named for the first time after appearing in 40 games this season.
He finished second on the team this season with 10 doubles, was third with a .329 batting average, and stood fifth with 20 RBI. He added 47 total hits, 18 runs, and four stolen bases to the Polar Bear efforts in 2019.
Through two seasons, Burkett has appeared in 58 contests. He has 60 base hits, 22 runs, 10 doubles, two home runs, and 28 RBI on a .323 career batting average.
Dodson is a sophomore mechanical engineering major and a left-handed pitcher on the baseball team.
The first-time honoree appeared in five contests this season to record two strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He made his collegiate pitching debut in the program's 15-5 victory over Bridgewater (Va.) at the RussMatt Invitational on their annual Spring Break trip to Florida.
Fisher, a sophomore nursing student, was honored for the first time after leading the ONU pitching staff with 16 appearances this year.
During the season, he registered a 1-0 record with two saves in 29.0 innings worked. He posted a 3.41 ERA and struck out 13 batsmen while conceding just 11 earned runs and seven walks.
Fisher has appeared in 20 games during his career for 35.0 total innings. He owns a 3.34 career ERA and 14 career strikeouts.
Mills, a marketing major, is now a two-time Academic All-OAC honoree after he garnered similar honors during the 2018 men's soccer season.
This season, the sophomore outfielder appeared in 31 games for Ohio Northern, recording career-highs with a .304 batting average, 17 hits, six stolen bases, and five RBI.
Through his sophomore season, Mills has recorded 18 hits on a .295 career batting average. He also owns 21 runs, five RBI, six stolen bases, and a .394 on-base percentage.
Rocco, a sophomore accounting major, becomes a first-time honoree after a breakout sophomore season where he earned First-Team All-OAC kudos.
He finished third in the OAC with a .401 batting average and led ONU with a .446 on-base percentage, a .458 slugging percentage, 28 RBI, and 13 stolen bases. He also ended second on the team with 57 base hits while adding 25 runs and six doubles.
His 57 base hits currently tie for 10th-most in a single season in program history.
Through two seasons, the sophomore has compiled 61 base hits, 31 runs, 31 RBI, 13 stolen bases, and eight doubles at Ohio Northern. He is also an ONU .300 Club member with a .386 batting average, which ranks fourth-best in program history.
The Polar Bears compiled a 23-18 overall record and a 10-8 OAC mark during the 2019 campaign. ONU tied for third in the final OAC standings to qualify for their second consecutive OAC Tournament.