LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- In the 10th season of the modern era of Covenant baseball, the Scots rebounded from a tough 2015 season with a strong 2016 campaign by going 23-17 overall. It was the sixth time in the last seven years the Scots have won at least 20 games.
Under the guidance of 10th year head coach Doug Simons, the Scots had big wins throughout the year and had individual players excel during the season. Covenant was also voted as the USA South Team Sportsmanship Award winner for a third straight year.
GAME OF THE YEAR: Covenant 4, Emory 3 (March 18, 2016)
There were several big-game performances during the year, but one game stands out the most. Facing No. 4-ranked Emory at home on March 18 to begin a three-game series, the Scots faced a stiff test.
Emory led 3-1 after five innings, but a Perry Rigby solo home run in the sixth inning drew the Scots to within 3-2. That score stood until the eighth inning.
Facing the nation's leader in saves in Emory's Kyle Monk, Covenant was able to put together a rally. Trenton Nobles beat out an infield single to shortstop to leadoff the inning and Z Arima followed with a sharp single to left field putting runners at first and second with nobody out. After a Rigby sacrifice bunt moved both runners up, Taylor Bloye lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Nobles. Pinch-hitter Ryan Gosney then laced a single into center field that enabled pinch-runner Kyle Delk to score from third giving the Scots a 4-3 edge.
Alex Kerr came on in the ninth and worked a perfect inning to complete the comeback win.
The victory over the fourth-ranked Eagles is the highest-ranked opponent Covenant has defeated in the NCAA era of the program. Emory is playing in the NCAA Division III World Series for a third straight year.
Senior pitcher Garrett Kriston etched his name on to the program record book in a myriad of ways during the year.
Kriston was a strikeout machine as he totaled 101 punch outs in only 86.1 innings of work. That number of strikeouts led all of Division III for most of the season (Kriston should finish in the top-10 once the Division III season comes to an end) and also set a single-season program record. The 86.1 innings also broke a program record for a season and his six complete-games is tied for the top spot in a season.
For his career, Kriston also topped several program marks. His nine victories in 2016 gave him 23 for his career, setting a program record, and his 101 strikeouts gave him 255 for a career, also a record. He also set program career records in complete-games (13), innings pitched (272.2), and tied for first in complete-game shutouts (3). He finished second in ERA (3.60), strikeouts per game (8.42) and most games started (40).
Not to be outdone, but junior Luke Harvey also put together a record breaking year. Harvey swiped 26 bases on the year, in only 30 attempts, to set a single-season record. His .413 batting average was the third-highest for a season and led the USA South. Harvey also became the first baseball student-athlete to be named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team for his work in the classroom and on the field.
Both Kriston and Harvey were second team All-USA South selections and ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region second team honorees.
Entering this year, sophomore Trenton Nobles had zero career hits. In a span of two weeks, he picked up two of the biggest hits of the year for the Scots.
Nobles collected his first career hit in dramatic fashion as his single in the bottom of the seventh against Emory & Henry on Feb. 12 gave Covenant a 6-5 walk-off victory. The sophomore tallied his second walk-off single 15 days later when he delivered a sharp grounder past first base giving the Scots a 5-4, 10-inning win over LaGrange on Feb. 27.
Nobles ended the year second on the team in batting average at .336 to go along with 26 RBIs and 10 extra-base hits and was named to the All-USA South second team.
MORE TOP PERFORMERS:
Outside of the players mentioned above, Covenant received contributions from several players throughout the year.
Sophomore Caleb Bloye, coming off a USA South Rookie of the Year award in 2015, hit .296 and led the team with 40 RBIs to go along with three home runs and 11 doubles. Junior Alex Kerr hit .270 and tied for the team-lead with four home runs, with two of those coming in one game, and 33 RBIs. Senior Perry Rigby also hit four home runs and drove in 26 in his final season.
Junior Z Arima joined the team a few weeks into the year after helping lead the men's basketball program to a conference title. Arima batted .392 in 74 at-bats with a home run and 14 RBIs, while throwing out 11 baserunners from behind the plate and was named All-USA South honorable mention. Fellow catcher and junior Forrest Hunter hit .295 with a home run and seven RBIs.
Juniors Julien Amorelli and Taylor Bloye made the most of their opportunities to play significant time this year. Amorelli hit .301 with five doubles and 14 runs scored, while holding down second base for much of the year. Bloye batted .283 in 20 games and made 15 starts at third base and two at second. Sophomore Devin Cerrato took over center field duties and stole 10 bases and made just one error in 93 total chances.
The pitching staff saw four freshmen make an immediate impact along with ace Garrett Kriston. Matt Reitz and Ryan Gosney won three games apiece and threw the second and third most innings on the team, respectively. Grant Kierpa came on in the middle of the season and ended with a 2-0 record and a 3.49 ERA, while Drew Bradley also went 2-0 and made 14 appearances. All four pitchers earned USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Week accolades during the year.
Seniors Jonah Paul and Alec Mitchell wrapped up their careers. Paul suffered from an injury for much of the year, but went 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA and tossed a complete-game shutout with nine strikeouts against Emory & Henry on Feb. 13 which earned him USA South Pitcher of the Week and D3baseball.com Team of the Week honors. Mitchell ends his career as Covenant's career record holder for appearances with 65 after he went 2-2 with three saves on the year.
USA South All-Conference
Luke Harvey - 2nd team
Garrett Kriston - 2nd team
Trenton Nobles - 2nd team
Z Arima - honorable mention
USA South All-Sportsmanship
USA South Player of the Week
Joel Johnson - Feb. 8
Luke Harvey - Feb. 15
USA South Rookie Pitcher of the Week
Ryan Gosney - Feb. 8
Matt Reitz - Feb. 29; April 11
Drew Bradley - March 14
Grant Kierpa - March 21
D3baseball.com Team of the Week
Luke Harvey - Feb. 16
Jonah Paul - Feb. 16
ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region
Luke Harvey - 2nd team
Garrett Kriston - 2nd team
CoSIDA Academic All-District
USA South Sportsmanship Award
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