ORONO, Maine-- After winning the 2013 America East regular season title, the University of Maine baseball team picked up three of the major post-season honors on Tuesday evening. Senior Michael Fransoso (Portsmouth, N.H.) was named America East Player of the Year, while junior hurler Tommy Lawrence (West Haven, Conn.) was a unanimous selection for Pitcher of the Year. Head coach Steve Trimper earned Coach of the Year honors. In addition, junior Mike Connolly (Bridgewater, Mass.) became the first player in conference history to be selected to All-Conference teams at two different positions.
Lawrence, Fransoso, Connolly (at catcher) and Eric White (Brewer, Maine) all earned a spot on the America East First Team. Connolly (at pitcher), Troy Black (Mississauga, Ontario), Brian Doran (Ayr, Ontario) and Sam Balzano (Portland, Maine) were all named to the America East Second Team. In addition, Colin Gay (Franklin, Mass.) earned a spot on the All-Academic Team.
Fransoso was named Player of the Year after earning a spot on the All-Rookie team as a freshman, the America East Second Team and All-Tournament Team as a sophomore and then the America East First Team last season. Fransoso became the fourth player in Maine history to earn the honor, joining Mark Sweeney (1991), Chad White (1993), Curt Smith (2008). Fransoso, a unanimous selection at shortstop, hit .356 on the season with 41 runs scored and 45 RBI. He has 16 doubles, a pair of triples and three home runs. He has stolen 19 bases on the season and earned America East Player of the Week honors on Feb. 25. Fransoso is Maine's all-time leader in stolen bases with 73. He ranks second in runs scored (200) and doubles (64) and tied for fifth in hits (263).
Lawrence becomes the sixth Black Bear to earn America East Pitcher of the Year honors, joining Larry Thomas (1991), Mark Ballard (1993), Garrett Quinn (1997), Rusty Tucker (2001) and Mike MacDonald (2002). Lawrence is 9-3 on the season, including posting an 8-1 mark in America East Conference play. His eight wins set an America East record for league wins. He posted a 2.59 earned run average and struck out 67 batters on the season. He earned America East Pitcher of the Week honors four times. He is one win shy of tying the school record for wins in a season of 10.
Trimper led the Black Bears to a mark of 34-20 and the America East regular season title. The 34 wins are one shy of tying his single season high of 35 victories set in 2006 in his first season at Maine. In addition, Trimper won his 400th career game when Maine beat Stony Brook earlier this season. The Black Bears won nine of the 10 America East weekend series this season.
Connolly earned a spot on the America East First Team as a catcher. He hit .311 with 21 runs scored and 14 RBI. He has six doubles and a home run. Connolly, who was named to the America East All-Tournament Team a year ago, threw out 25 of the 49 base runners trying to steal against the Black Bears. In addition, he earned a spot on the America East Second Team as a pitcher. He finished 5-3 with a team-best and America East best 2.04 ERA. He struck out 41 batters in 61.2 innings. Opponents hit just .202 against Connolly on the season. In a game against Binghamton on April 7, Connolly caught the first 14 innings of a doubleheader, before pitching the final two innings in relief. He is one of 11 players in contention for the Olerud Award, given to the best two-way player in college baseball.
White earned a spot on the America East First Team at third base as a unanimous selection. He was named America East Player of the Week a league high three times this season. White hit .329 for the Black Bears with 35 runs scored and 31 RBI. He had eight doubles and led the team in home runs with five.
Black was named to the America East Second Team for the second time in his career after earning the honor as a freshman. He led Maine with a .368 batting average with 28 runs scored and 23 RBI. He had five doubles on the season to go along with a triple and a home run. Black, the reigning America East Player of the Week, stole 12 bases on the season for the Black Bears.
Balzano, an outfielder, hit .311 for the Black Bears with 40 runs scored and 21 RBI. He had four double and led the team in stolen bases with 21. His 21 steals led America East and his 40 runs scored were second in the conference to teammate and player of the year Fransoso. He drew a team-high 25 walks and committed just one error on the season.
Doran, an outfielder, played in 50 games his sophomore season and hit .321 with 31 runs scored and 22 RBI. He belted 10 doubles on the season to go along with a triple and a home run. Earlier this season, he reached base in 24 straight games, a streak 10 games longer than anyone else.
Gay earned a spot on the America East All-Academic team for the Black Bears.
A mass communication major, he played in 53 of the 54 games for the Black Bears and hit .272 with 37 runs scored and 25 RBI. He stole 18 bases on the season.
Maine opens the 2013 America East Tournament when it plays Stony Brook on Wednesday, May 22 at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass. The tournament continues on Thursday and Friday. Links to audio, video and live stats can be found on www.goblackbears.com
Aaron began his career at WVII in March of 2008. He attended Old Town High School, where he graduated in 2004. From there he moved on to the New England School of Communications, majoring in Sports Broadcasting and Journalism. Originally a sports radio major, Aaron co-hosted a weekly sports radio show on WHSN called This Week in Sports while also doing play by play and color commentary of Husson Eagle sporting events. He also spent a semester as the stations sports director. After his sophomore year he realized he had run out of radio classes to take, so he began taking TV courses while also working at Stephen King’s sports station WZON. Aaron graduated from NESCom in May of 2008 with a degree in communications, and was named the top broadcast journalist of his class. Since joining ABC-7 and Fox Bangor he has won multiple Maine Association of Broadcasting Awards.
In his free time Aaron likes, surprise, to watch sports and play sports. From mountain climbing to basketball, there are very few sports Aaron doesn’t enjoy. He also likes traveling when he gets the chance, and is happy he has been able to pursue his passion for sports while staying close to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @AaronRJackson, and you can catch him weeknights at 6, 10 and 11 on ABC-7 and Fox Bangor. He can also be reached via email at [email protected].