Story by Thomas Corhern
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- A hundred-and-seventy-two hits. 37 doubles. 33 home runs. 127 runs scored. 130 runs batted in. A combined .357 batting average.
And that’s just the production for one season.
With the numbers that the Tennessee Tech baseball duo of Daniel Miles and Brandon Thomasson put together, it’s no wonder to see why the Golden Eagles put together arguably one of the best seasons in program history as Tech finished 40-19, falling in the championship game of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, just shy of making the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since the 2009 season.
The numbers those two alone put together is hard to differentiate between them for this year’s Tennessee Tech Male Athlete of the Year Award, leaving the selection committee no choice but to make them co-recipients of the award, only the third time since the awards inception that the award has been shared.
The previous times included Willie Jenkins (men’s basketball) and Frank Omiyale (football) in 2005 and A.J. Kirby-Jones and Chad Oberacker (both baseball) in 2010.
But this time is a little bit different when you consider who else was also nominated as junior shortstop Dylan Bosheers (.368 batting average, 66 runs scored, 86 hits, 11 home runs, 56 runs batted in) and junior pitcher David Hess (nine wins, 104 strikeouts, 3.24 earned run average) were also among the 11 finalists, which included Alex Arovin (tennis), Alberto Esteban (tennis), Tra’Darius Goff (football), Marty Jones (football), Dennis Ogbe (basketball), Mitch Thomas (golf) and Chad Zinchini (football).
“I will say that it is very much deserved not only for Daniel and Brandon,” said Tech baseball head coach Matt Bragga, “but also those other guys nominated. Those four guys are just great young men. They were not only a great force on the field, but they have been fantastic off the field as well. It’s neat to see.”
Miles added, “I figured with the season we had, there would be a bunch of guys from the baseball team in the finalists. There’s just so many guys that had fantastic years. It’s just awesome because the guys on this team were just awesome.”
Thomasson said, “Everyone on our team this year could have won this award. This team was just amazing. The two years I was at Tech, we had two record-breaking seasons with a lot of different things. Daniel and I came in from the JUCO level and just did work.”
Former winners of the award also include: Mike Jones (football, 1994), Greg Bibb (basketball, 1995), Michael Penix (football, 1996), Mark Maberry (baseball, 1997), Andre Caballero (football, 1998), Branon Vaughn (1999 and 2000, football), Chad Evitts (football, 2001), Grant Swallows (football, 2002), Casey Benjamin (baseball, 2003), Jenkins (basketball, 2004), Scott Stallings (golf, 2006 and 2007), Larry Shipp (football, 2008), Kirby-Jones (baseball, 2009), Zac Swansey (basketball, 2011), Tim Benford (football, 2012) and Syrym Abduhkhalikov (tennis, 2013).
The resume material alone for Miles and Thomasson is just amazing.
“And it was capped with Miles getting drafted in the eighth round (of the Major League Baseball entry draft) and Thomasson in the ninth,” Bragga said. “That was really fun to see those guys develop over their years at Tech. It’s a testament to these guys and much deserving.”
Reciting Daniel Miles’ write-up from the TTU Sports Information department on the nomination: “One of the best players in both the league and nation all year, Miles backed up the hype that saw him earn a spot on the USA Baseball Midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List.
“The third baseman put together an incredible year both offensively and defensively on his way to earning Louisville Slugger All-American First Team honors from Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Joining teammate Brandon Thomasson as a First-Team honoree, he became just one of four Ohio Valley Conference players ever named a First-Team All-American.
“Thanks in large part to a ridiculous season at the plate, Miles became the most decorated All-American in Golden Eagle history. This season alone he also saw honors such as Rawlings/ABCA South All-Region First Team, All-OVC First Team, College Sports Madness Ohio Valley All-Conference First Team, OVC All-Tournament Team, and was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy.
“He broke Tech’s single game record with eight RBI in a huge victory over NYIT in February, leading to OVC Player of the Week and NCAA National Player of the Week honors. He also took home College Sports Madness OVC Player of the Week accolades in March. The slugger manned the hot corner in 58 games, leading the Golden Eagles to a record-tying 40 wins with a team-high .380 batting average and ranking second nationally with 67 runs scored.
“He also finished the season in the top 10 in Division I baseball with 90 hits on the year, the third highest single-season total in Tech history. He wrapped up his 2014 campaign with 17 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs, tallying 54 RBI while recording an on base percentage of .481. He became the highest drafted infielder in Tech history, going to the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 247th overall selection.”
Thomasson said of MIles: “That kid is the man. He works so
hard every day. He’s just a great ball player and a
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