WAC Champions Pick Up Bevy Of League Awards

The 2009 Western Athletic Conference regular-season champion San Jose State University baseball team picked up several post-season league honors at a banquet on the eve of the start of the NAPA Auto Parts WAC Tournament, on Wednesday, May 20.

Courtesy: San Jose State athletics

Spartans picked up two of the four pieces of individual hardware, with Sam Piraro being named the WAC Coach of the Year for the second straight season, and senior right-handed pitcher Ryan Shopshire the WAC Pitcher of the Year. Shopshire, senior left-handed pitcher David Berner and junior shortstop Kyle Bellows were all chosen by league head coaches to the 16-player All-WAC first team, while sophomore outfielder Jason Martin and junior third baseman Corey Valine earned selection to the 15-player second team.

Shopshire, Berner, Martin (The Harker School) and Valine are all first-time honorees, while Bellows (Santa Teresa High School), like Martin a San Jose native, made the All-WAC second team following a Freshman All-America campaign in 2007.

The event was held at the Stan Sheriff Center, as the University of Hawai'i is serving as the host of the six-team, four-day event which is scheduled to get under way at 11:00 a.m. HST/2:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 21, with the top-seeded Spartans taking on sixth seed Nevada.

Piraro, in his 22nd campaign in charge of the Spartans, was honored as the WAC Coach of the Year for the fourth time. Piraro has led his alma mater to a 39-18 overall win-loss record thus far in 2009. San Jose State reached its third WAC crown, all under Piraro, and first since 2000. The Spartans have eclipsed the 30-win plateau for a fourth straight year, have guaranteed themselves a winning overall record for the fourth season in a row, and finished with a winning WAC mark for the second consecutive year as well, at 15-7, their best since 2002.

Shopshire, a second-year transfer from Orange Coast College and a native of Anaheim Hills, Calif., becomes the first Spartan to garner WAC Pitcher of the Year honors. He is the first San Jose State individual to pick up a top conference award since Junior Ruiz was the 2000 WAC Player of the Year.

Shopshire went a perfect 4-0 over five league starts, including a seven-inning shutout with a career-high 15 strikeouts in a 2-0 home victory over rival Fresno State on Saturday, April 25. That was the highest single-game strikeout total by a WAC hurler all season long. The graduate of Orange Lutheran High School, whose collegiate career began at Long Beach State, posted a 4.33 ERA in WAC contests, with 37 strikeouts, tied for the most, and 13 walks over 27.0 innings pitched. He was tied with two others for the most wins, and was third in both ERA and opposing batting average (.250).

Berner, a Santa Clara product who previously attended West Valley College and Santa Clara High School, had the second-best ERA in league games, at 4.24. The second-year Spartan currently leads the WAC in that category for all games, at 3.00. He is 2-1 over five starts against league opposition, with a tough complete-game loss at Hawai'i, 3-0, in his only previous appearance at Les Murakami Stadium back on April 3. In those five starts, he has struck out 27, seventh-most, and walked just five, over 34.0 innings pitched.

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