Eight Bluffton University baseball players were recently honored by the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference for their play on the diamond this spring.
Senior Tyler Stephenson (Springfield/Northwestern) and junior Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) both took home first team honors, while junior Miles Richardson (Granville/Newark Catholic) and sophomore Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) were selected to the second team. Rounding out the honorable mention selections were seniors Nick Broyles (Toledo/Whitmer) and Kelly Barnes (Toledo/Christian), sophomore Tyler Wright (Troy) and freshman Halen Core (Reynoldsburg).
Wrapping up us his career with another monster season at plate was all-time hits leader Tyler Stephenson who was named First Team All-Heartland Conference for the first time in his career after a pair of honorable mention selections the past two seasons.
He equaled the Bluffton single-season record with 40 games played and 40 starts this year. Stephenson's 20 doubles also established a new school mark for a season. He finished 2012 with 62 safeties, tied for fourth all-time and the third straight season Stephenson eclipsed 50 hits. His 162 at-bats are the fifth-highest total in school history while his 90 total bases are sixth all-time. Stephenson also drove in 32 runs, scored 26 times and led the Beavers with a .383 batting average.
Stephenson made an even larger imprint on the career record books, starting with his school-record 215 hits. He shattered the previous mark of 168 hits held by Brad Buckingham and Tony Moore. His school-best 52 doubles left John Holzwart's previous record 34 two-baggers in the dust as well. He stands second to fellow graduating senior Nick Broyles with 151 games played and 148 career starts.
Stephenson and Broyles stand one-two in career at bats with 595 and 574, respectively. He crossed the plate 116 times (third all-time) while his 127 RBI and 323 total bases left him trailing just Broyles in the career records. The third baseman pounded 14 homers, placing him in a tie for fourth all-time. Defensively, Stephenson ended his career third with 278 assists and tied for ninth with 25 double plays.
Earning his third straight All-HCAC honor was junior Kyle Niermann. He was named first team for the second consecutive season after being a second team selection as a freshman. Niermann equaled his own school record with 178 at bats and his 66 hits were just two off his Bluffton record 68 safeties in 2011.
His 41 runs scored are third all-time while his 13 doubles and four triples placed him in the top 10 all-time for a single season. Niermann racked up 102 total bases (fourth all-time) and he also tied the school record with 40 games played and 40 starts this season. He hit .371 with a team-best .573 slugging percentage to go along with 31 RBI from his leadoff position.
Niermann stands eighth all-time with a .375 career batting average following his junior campaign. He is in position to make Stephenson's stay at the top of the all-time hits list a short one, having surpassed former leaders Buckingham and Moore in just three seasons. Niermann is already third on the list with 177 hits, trailing 2012 graduates Stephenson (215) and Broyles (192).
His 105 runs scored are fifth all-time, while his 249 total bases (fourth), seven triples (tied for fourth) and 88 RBI (tied for sixth) are all in the top 10. Niermann is tied for third in doubles with former record-holder John Holzwart (34) and his 18 stolen bases are tied for 14th all-time. A perfect 1.000 fielding percentage that included three assists this season helped him move into 10th place all-time (.988).
Miles Richardson was named Second Team All-Heartland Conference, his first post-season honor at Bluffton. The multi-dimensional junior anchored Bluffton's outfield when he was not on the mound. Richardson batted second in the potent Beaver lineup, hitting .378 with 62 hits (tied for fourth all-time), 33 RBI (12th all-time) and 30 runs scored.
He slugged .482 and racked up 164 at bats (fourth all-time) and 79 total bases (10th all-time). Richardson started a team-high 10 games, posting a 4-6 mark with a 5.62 ERA in 49.2 innings on the hill. He fanned 24 batters while his .267 opponent batting average was 13th all-time.
With one season to play, Richardson stands 14th on the career list with 131 hits and he is tied for 13th with 25 doubles. His 411 at bats are seventh all-time and his 77 runs scored are tied for 14th. Richardson is sixth on the career list with a .296 opponent batting average and his 23 starts on the mound place him 12th at Bluffton.
For the second straight season, Tim Webb was named Second Team All-HCAC. The sophomore catcher hit .350 for the season with 13 doubles (tied for seventh on Bluffton's single season list). He drove in 23 runs and scored 19 while bashing 41 hits. Webb finished with a .487 slugging percentage. His .356 career batting average is tied for 16th all-time.
The standout catcher ranks fourth all-time in caught stealing with 20 runners thrown out while his 350 putouts are 12th all-time.
Senior Nick Broyles capped his outstanding career at Bluffton with a fourth straight All-Heartland Conference award. Broyles was named honorable mention after being a first team selection the past two seasons and a second team honoree as a freshman.
Although he hit just .287, a down season by his own standards, Broyles continued to produce runs like always. He scored 35 runs (tied for 11th all-time) and drove in 30 while smacking four homers and three triples. In addition, Broyles drew 18 walks this season.
Broyles leaves Bluffton as one of the most decorated baseball players in Beaver history. He holds school records for games played (154), games started (148), runs (148), RBI (144), total bases (333), hit by pitch (35) and stolen bases (49). Broyles is second all-time in at bats (574), hits (192), doubles (40), triples (13), home runs (25) and walks (71).
His .580 career slugging percentage is eighth all-time at Bluffton.
Kelly Barnes put together his finest season at Bluffton in 2012, going 4-3 with a 4.36 earned run average. His 66.0 innings are seventh all-time, less than eight innings from the number one spot in the record book. He struck out 38 batters while allowing just 21 walks. Barnes limited opponents to a .298 batting average and completed four of his nine starts.
The senior lefty finished second all-time with 48 appearances and his 175.2 innings pitched ranks eighth on the career list. He started 22 games (13th all-time) and finished with 11 wins (tied for eighth all-time). Barnes held his opponents to a .306 batting average (12th all-time).
Sophomore Tyler Wright, the only 2011 starter to hit less than .300 a year ago, batted in the middle of the lineup from day one this year and showed why he was there, upping his average over 90 points while flirting with .400 for much of the season. Wright smoked it at a .380 clip, scoring 33 times and driving in 28 runs. He fashioned a team-best .486 on-base percentage thanks to 26 walks (second all-time). Wright was a perfect 5-of-5 on stolen bases and he sprayed 54 hits (tied for 10th all-time).
Halen Core opened the season in the bullpen, but wasted little time moving into the rotation once the Beavers returned from their Florida swing. He held opponents to an anemic .210 batting average (second all-time by a single point) and recorded a 2.96 ERA in 48.2 innings of work. His 9.43 strikeouts per game are seventh all-time while his spotless 6-0 record on the hill was just two wins shy of Joel Parrett's school record eight victories in 1997. Core finished with 15 appearances (tied for fourth all-time), including five starts. The freshman flamethrower piled up 51 strikeouts (tied for sixth all-time).
Bluffton tied the school record with 19 wins this season, equaling the mark set by the 2011 squad a season ago. The 12 wins in Heartland Conference play was also a school record for the 2012 Beavers. Offensively, Bluffton continued its assault on the record book. The Beavers mashed a school-record 97 doubles, obliterating the former mark of 84. The 1,404 at bats is also a new record, while Bluffton's 444 hits came in second to the one-year old record of 465 safeties. Bluffton moved into the top 5 with 610 total bases (third), 236 RBI (tied for third) and 255 runs (fourth).
The Bluffton hurlers had one of their finest seasons of Coach Grandey's tenure. The Beavers fanned a school-record 234 batters while throwing 333.1 innings (first all-time). The 3.51 walks allowed per game is seventh all-time while the 6.32 strikeouts per contest is fifth all-time. Defensively, Bluffton turned a school-record 29 double plays and the Beavers also established a new mark with 1,000 putouts. The 400 assists in 2012 ranks fourth in Bluffton baseball history.