Fresno State

Fresno State pitcher Ricky Tyler Thomas wins USA Baseball summer award

Fresno State’s Ricky Tyler Thomas throws against Creighton in their game at Beiden Field Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.
Fresno State’s Ricky Tyler Thomas throws against Creighton in their game at Beiden Field Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. Fresno Bee file

Fresno State junior left-hander Ricky Tyler Thomas, following a dominant season for the Bulldogs with a near-flawless run for Team USA, was named the winner of the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award by USA Baseball on Tuesday.

The award is given annually to USA Baseball’s top player in honor of the organization’s founding executive director and CEO.

Thomas, named a third-team Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball on Monday, was a reliever on the summer U.S. collegiate national team. In 19 innings over seven appearances, he had a 0.95 ERA while tying for the team lead with 21 strikeouts during a three-country tour.

It takes all of us pulling on the same end of the rope and this is a great way to kick off the 2017 season.

Fresno State coach Mike Batesole on left-hander Ricky Tyler Thomas winning the 2016 Case Award as USA Baseball’s top player

The San Diego native closed out a 2-1 victory to clinch the collegiate national team’s first series win over Cuba.

“I am very grateful to USA Baseball and National Teams General Manager Eric Campbell for giving me this honor and I want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, friends and family for all of their support,” Thomas was quoted in a Fresno State news release. “This a great award to win and I am excited to get back on the field this season with my Fresno State teammates as we have a lot more accomplishments we want to achieve.”

Thomas and Fresno State open the 2017 season with a four-game series vs. Oregon on Feb. 17-20 at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium. The Bulldogs were among the other teams who received votes just outside Collegiate Baseball’s 2017 Preseason Top 40.

The Collegiate National Team was led by Oregon’s George Horton, who was named Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year. The players and staff also helped land USA Baseball’s Team of the Year award.

As a Bulldogs sophomore, Thomas was 9-4 with a 2.16 ERA and a Mountain West-leading 108 strikeouts while being named all-conference. Among his top performances was a May win over UNLV in which he pitched seven shutout innings.

“It is a great honor to put ‘USA’ on your chest, but to receive the Team USA Dick Case Award is off the chart,” Bulldogs coach Mike Batesole said. “It takes a village to achieve this accomplishment and this is a win for our entire program, athletic department, university and all of Fresno.”

▪ Ex-Central High standout Colton Eastman, a sophomore right-hander, earned second-team Preseason All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.

Key dates

Counting down toward Fresno State’s 2017 baseball season:

  • Feb. 17-20: Season-opening series vs. Oregon at Beiden Field
  • March 3-5: Mountain West-opening series vs. Nevada at Beiden Field
  • May 24-28: Mountain West Tournament at regular-season champion

2016 USA BASEBALL AWARD WINNERS

  • USA Baseball Richard W. “Dick” Case MVP: Ricky Tyler Thomas (Fresno State)
  • USA Baseball Team of the Year: 2016 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team
  • USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year: George Horton (Oregon)
  • USA Baseball Sportswoman of the Year: Tamara Holmes
  • USA Baseball International Performance of the Year: Hans Crouse (Dana Hill High School)
  • USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year: Glenn Cecchini (Barbe High-Lake Charles, La.)
  • USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year: Skip Schumaker
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