AUGUSTA, GA – With first pitch less than 10 days away, the Peach Belt Conference has announced the preseason All-Conference baseball team from the league office in Augusta. The 12-player team represents seven different PBC schools with Georgia College leading with three players selected. The squad size was expanded from 11 to 12 due to a tie in the voting at third base.
At first base is North Georgia's Trevor Sams. A returning senior from Cumming, Ga., Sams hit .354 with 13 home runs and 65 RBIs for the Nighthawks in 2016. A PBC All-Academic team selection, he was named a PBC Player of the Week last year. Sams was ranked in the PBC top 10 in doubles, home runs, RBIs, sac flies and slugging percentage.
Matthew Furuto was ranked among the PBC's top 10 in double plays turned in his work at second base last year. Named a PBC Presidential Honor Roll Gold Scholar, the senior from Birmingham, Ala., hit .286 with three home runs and 23 RBIs for the Falcons. Defensively he had 139 assists and 104 putouts at second base with 34 double plays.
North Georgia's Devin Gearhart was awarded the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove for his work at third base. A returning senior from Cumming, Ga., he hit .309 with 14 doubles, two home runs and 30 RBIs. He led the league with 14 sacrifice hits and struck out only 18 times in 191 at-bats. Defensively he had a .979 fielding percentage with only three errors in 141 chances at third.
Young Harris' Zach Wall was a second-team All-Conference selection at third base. Returning for his senior season, the native of Hayesville, N.C., led the Mountain Lions with a .408 on-base percentage and was second in batting average (.329), hits (55), doubles (11), home runs (8), total bases (90), and slugging percentage (.539). He was third in RBI with 29.
Brandon Benson was also a second-team All-Conference selection at shortstop. A senior from Loganville, Ga., he hit .309 with 10 home runs, 43 RBIs and 48 runs scored, with seven of his 10 round-trippers coming in PBC games. Defensively, Benson was third in the PBC with 168 assists last year and helped turn 39 double plays.
Augusta University's Clint Hardy is the first of the three outfielders named preseason All-Conference. A returning senior from Evans, Ga., he was a first-team All-Conference selection after hitting .373 for the Jaguars with seven home runs and 34 RBIs. Hardy led the league with six triples last year and hit .580 slugging percentage was 15th in the conference.
Logan Mattix was ranked in the PBC top 20 in runs, doubles, triples, and home runs in 2016. The junior outfielder from Loganville, Ga., hit .333 with a .581 slugging percentage. He was fourth in the PBC in runs scored and stole 11 bases. He had five outfield assists and helped turn two double plays.
Mitchell Price was a key component to USC Aiken's run to the NCAA Southeast Regional championship game last year. A second-team All-Conference selection in the outfield, he was second on the team and fifth in the PBC with 14 home runs. The Columbia, S.C., native was also 10th in the league in RBIs and total bases.
Designated hitter Zach Moon was a D2CCA first-team All-American and second-team All-Conference selection in 2016. A senior from Snellville, Ga., he led the team and was fourth in the Peach Belt with 16 home runs and 68 RBIs last year. Hitting .342, Moon was also seventh in the PBC in slugging percentage and eighth in total bases. Named all-region by the D2CCA and ABCA, he was also named to the PBC All-Tournament team.
Flagler starting pitcher Michael Maiocco won the PBC Elite 15 Award last season and was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American. A returning senior from Atlanta, Ga., he was 7-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 16 appearances last year. Named D2CCA All-Region, the lefty was fifth in the PBC with 90 strikeouts and second with 11.93 strikeouts per nine innings. He was also fifth in the league in wins.
Augusta pitcher Casey Lenoch was 4-1 in 19 relief appearances for the Jaguars in 2016. A junior from Newnan, Ga., he led the team with a 2.94 ERA. Lenoch struck out 32 batters in his 33.1 innings of work.
Peach Belt Conference Baseball
2017 Preseason All-Conference Team
|1b||Trevor Sams||North Georgia|
|3b||Devin Gearhart||North Georgia|
|Zach Wall||Young Harris|
|SS||Brandon Benson||Georgia College|
|C||Brandon Purcell||Georgia College|
|OF||Logan Mattix||Georgia College|
|OF||Mitchell Price||USC Aiken|
|DH||Zach Moon||USC Aiken|