‘Bows stopper Thomas named BWC freshman of the year

Dylan Thomas

IRVINE, Calif. – Officials from the Big West conference office announced on Wednesday morning the 2017 all-conference team and major honors. Among the honorees, six University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors appeared on the all-Big West teams, with freshman Dylan Thomas receiving Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors.

Appearing on the all-Big West second team were seniors Brendan Hornung and Josh Rojas. The four remaining UH players recognized – freshman Adam Fogel, senior Casey Ryan, Thomas and junior Dylan Vchulek – received honorable mention.

Coming off a redshirt season, the UH rookie Thomas was tabbed for the Freshman Pitcher of the Year award and all-conference honorable mention. The UH closer wrapped the year with a 1-0 record and team second-best 2.01 ERA through 17 appearances. Ranking 59th nationally and fifth in the BWC, Thomas tallied up nine saves to open in a tie for seventh on the UH all-time season top 10, recording the highest count since 2010. He threw 22.1 innings as the closer for the Rainbow Warriors, adding 20 strikeouts and limiting the opposition to just .217 batting.

Earning his first conference honors and coming out of Corona, Calif., Hornung was a truly steady hurler at the top of the Hawai’i rotation for second team honors. He finished the 2017 campaign with a 6-6 record and a Big West ninth-best 3.25 ERA in an NCAA 22nd-most 15 starts, ranking third in the league with 108 innings and fifth with 89 strikeouts (95th NCAA). Hornung lists at fifth nationally with five complete games – the most for a UH pitcher since 1994. Nationally, he also ranked 41st (fourth BWC) with just 1.5 walks per nine innings and 52nd (third BWC) with a 4.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Hailing from Litchfield Park, Ariz., Rojas not only was a rolling highlight reel with the glove at third base for his first second team honors, he also proved to be the top extra base hitter for the ‘Bows on the year. Batting .294, Rojas racked up a BWC fourth-most 15 doubles, tying for the team lead with five home runs and an NCAA 16th-most (BWC second) six triples – registering the most three-baggers for UH since 1997. The senior paced the squad with 36 runs, in addition to 25 RBI. He also led the team with a .404 on-base percentage and BWC seventh-most 28 walks, stealing five bases.

Jumping out to a stalwart rookie season, Fogel received honorable mention for his performance in the UH outfield. Coming out of Palos Verdes, Calif., Fogel hit .293 with a team-high (BWC third-most) 16 doubles, as well as four home runs, listing at second for UH with 27 RBI, as well as 21 runs. He paced the UH outfield with 143 putouts and 12 assists, registering a .981 fielding percentage. Nationally, Fogel ranked 69th in doubles per game.

Joining Thomas in late relief, the Westlake Village, Calif. native Ryan captured a 3-0 record – including wins in the final two games of the season over UC Santa Barbara – as well as a team-best 1.52 ERA in a team-leading 18 appearances to receive honorable mention. Ryan earned two saves, striking out 21 batters and limiting opponents to a team-low .188 average in 23.2 innings.

Commanding center field out of Bainbridge Island to earn his first honorable mention, Vchulek led the Rainbow Warriors with a .302 average and 60 hits, connecting for eight doubles and one triple. He reached base at a .381 clip, aided by a BWC fifth-most 10 trips as a hit batsman and 17 walks. Vchulek scored a team second-most 35 runs, with 23 RBI, topping UH with a BWC sixth-most 12 stolen bases. Defensively, Vchulek tabbed 128 putouts and a .977 fielding percentage, plus two assists – including a double play that reached No. 2 on the SportsCenter Top 10.

During the 2016 season, the Rainbow Warriors registered five honorees, all as honorable mention. Thomas is the first player for UH to earn a major conference award since the Rainbow Warriors joined the Big West. The last major conference award belonged to Kolten Wong, who earned Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in 2009.

The Rainbow Warriors earned their first winning season since 2012 with a 28-23 overall record on the year.

#HawaiiBSB

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