Brenner Elected 2012 Captain; Rallis MVP as Yale Announces Year-End Awards

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Ryan Brenner. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Lally Wins a Pair of Awards

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale baseball team held its post-season banquet last week, electing catcher Ryan Brenner (Manhasset, N.Y.) as captain for the 2012 season while also honoring eight others with team awards. Senior first baseman Trey Rallis (La Canada, Calif.) won the G.H. Walker, Jr. Award as the team's most valuable player, and seven others were honored with awards as well.

Brenner, Yale's starting catcher since his sophomore season, posted some impressive offensive numbers while also excelling defensively (only three errors). He hit .306, finishing fourth on the team in that category. He also struck out just nine times in 111 at-bats and was second on the team in on-base percentage (.406).

Brenner's work with the Yale pitchers helped the Bulldog staff lead the Ivy League in strikeouts (298) while limiting opponents to a .261 batting average, the best figure of any staff in the league.

"Ryan has been one of the leaders of this team since his sophomore year, so his election is kind of a natural progression," said John Stuper, Yale's head coach.  "The respect his teammates have for him came through in the election, and I think he will make an excellent captain."

Brenner is part of a seven-member rising senior class that also includes right-handed pitcher Pat Ludwig (Okemos, Mich.), right-handed pitcher Greg Lyons (Dallas, Texas), outfielder Charlie Neil (Dallas, Texas), infielder Matt Schmidt (Grayslake, Ill.), right-handed pitcher Eric Shultz (Beverly Hills, Calif.) and second baseman/outfielder Zach Tobolowsky (Dallas, Texas).

As part of his MVP season Rallis won the Ivy League's Blair Bat, given to the player with the best batting average in league games. His .441 average against Ancient Eight opponents was 59 points better than the next-best average. Overall, Rallis hit .365 to lead Yale in that category as well as on-base percentage (.444, second in the league) and slugging percentage (.527). He drove in a team-best 30 runs and also led the team in doubles with 12 and homeruns with four. A disciplined hitter, he finished with more walks (19) than strikeouts (17).

Senior outfielder/catcher Harry Koulos (Long Beach, Calif.), was the recipient of the Martin I.J. Griffin Award, which was instituted two years ago by Joe Conway '80 and Fred Berg '66 in honor of their mentor, Martin I.J. Griffin. The award is given to the graduating senior who is the team's most outstanding scholar-athlete. Koulos, a history major, appeared in 32 games for his career.

The David M. Darst Hustle Cup, presented to the freshman "who made the greatest contribution to the baseball team through desire, enthusiasm and hustle", went to three players: infielder/right-handed pitcher Kevin Fortunato (Wall, N.J.), outfielder Cale Hanson (Katy Texas) and infielder Jacob Hunter (Tucson, Ariz.).

Fortunato emerged as one of Yale's top relief pitchers, posting two saves and a 2.13 ERA while striking out 23 batters in 25.1 innings. He also had a pair of hits.

Hanson immediately moved into a role as Yale's starting centerfielder, finishing third on the team in steals with seven while hitting .278 with a .384 on-base percentage. His 37 runs scored in 42 games ranked fourth in the league in terms of runs per game.

Hunter stepped in as Yale's starting shortstop, hitting .298 with a .348 on-base percentage. He finished third on the team with 24 RBI.

Senior left-handed pitcher Vinny Lally (Tampa, Fla.) earned a pair of awards. That included the Ducky Pond Pitching Award, a career award for pitching excellence and character; and the Burnat-Grass Teammate Award, given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of toughness, hard work, character and integrity, while putting the team above himself." The award is named after former Yale baseball players Kyle Burnat '05 and Nick Grass '05. This is the second season in a row Lally has won the award.

Lally was one of Yale's top starting pitchers for the third year in a row. His 2.54 ERA placed him fourth in the Ivy League and was more than two runs lower than his ERA from 2010. He limited opponents to a .175 batting average, leading the league in that category and in wins (five). He also tied for second in the league with 70 strikeouts. In 67.1 innings pitched, he did not allow a homerun and allowed only 41 hits.

The Coach's Award, for the player who desires team unity above all else, went to senior left-handed pitcher Alex Young (New York, N.Y.). Young, a lefty specialist out of Yale's bullpen, appeared in 11 games and had five strikeouts in 3.2 innings.

Senior third baseman Andy Megee (Los Angeles, Calif.), Yale's 2011 captain, received the Paul Sortal Award, which goes to the player who makes the most of his ability. Megee has won this award twice, and has also won the Burnat-Grass Teammate Award and the Darst Hustle Cup.

Megee, who did not miss a game in his career, finished second on the team with a .329 batting average. That represented a 19-point improvement over his average from a year ago. He was also fourth on the team in slugging percentage (.431) and fifth in on-base percentage (.385). His 55 hits tied for fourth in the Ivy League.

Koulos, Lally, Megee, Rallis and Young are part of a 10-member Yale Baseball Class of 2011 that also includes second baseman Gant Elmore (Bloomington, Ind.), left-handed pitcher Brook Hart (State College, Pa.), outfielder Andrew Kolmar (Mendham, N.J.), outfielder Andrew Moore (Houston, Texas) and right-handed pitcher Will Stratton (Wilmington, Del.). That group helped the Bulldogs remain in contention for the Ivy League's Rolfe Division title into the season's final weekend. Yale ultimately finished in second place, three games out of first.

Brenner leads a group of 19 returnees for next season.

"This senior class will be hard to replace," Stuper said. "We took a step forward this year, and I am looking for the returning guys and next year's freshmen to keep us headed in the right direction. We will welcome seven new players next year and I think they can have an immediate impact, much like this year's freshmen did."

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity