(Hawaii Athletics) - Officials from the Big West Conference office announced on Wednesday that five members of the University of Hawai'i baseball team have been named to the 2018 All-Big West teams, with one honorable mention, one on the second team and three first team all-conference honorees for the first time in eight seasons.
Headlining the group with his second set of All-Big West honors and his inaugural appearance on the first team, sophomore Dylan Thomas (Castaic, Calif./Valencia High School) earned his spot as a closing pitcher with the clear best numbers in the conference. Thomas tied Lenny Linsky's single-season UH saves record and finished the season tied for 11th in the NCAA with 14 saves in 18 opportunities. He earned a 3-2 record and team-best 1.85 ERA, striking out 43 in 39 innings with only four walks and a .200 opponent batting average. Last season, Thomas was All-Big West honorable mention and conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year.
Back for the second time in his career and his debut as a first-teamer, junior Kekai Rios (Kahalu'u, O'ahu/Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama) earned his spot as a utility player after splitting his time between catcher (24 games), third base (14 games) and designated hitter (7 games). Although a challenging stretch in May put him at .270 batting to finish the year, Rios carried the 'Bows through the middle of Big West play and the bulk of April, batting .318 against conference foes. Entering the season as the primary backstop, Rios stepped in where needed, taking over the hot corner with the injury to Ethan Lopez. On the year, Rios produced 22 runs and 15 RBI, recording four doubles, a home run and 26 walks. He reached base at a .383 clip. On defense, Rios recorded 141 putouts and 43 assists with a .979 fielding percentage.
Rounding out the Hawai'i first-teamers, first-year junior shortstop Maaki Yamazaki (Tokyo, Japan/Tokyo International University) led the Rainbow Warriors with a .325 batting average and finished the year ranked seventh among Big West hitters. Leading the team with 62 hits, Yamazaki registered 10 doubles and two home runs, topping UH with 34 runs and tallying 19 RBI. Also leading the team with a .409 on-base percentage, Yamazaki drew 26 walks and ranked as the 16th toughest batter to strike out in the NCAA – fanned only 13 times on the year. On defense, Yamazaki paced UH with 157 assists and 69 putouts, contributing to 37 double plays to lead the Rainbow Warriors to an NCAA 11th-ranked 1.00 per game average.
Yamazaki finished the year collecting hits in the 11 of the final 12 games, including six multi-hit outings.
Earning his first postseason honors and appearing on the All-Big West second team, junior third baseman Ethan Lopez (Whittier, Calif./La Mirada High School) bounced back from a 14-game off-field injury absence to bat .278 on the year, recording 22 runs and 17 RBI despite playing in only 37 games. He finished the year with a career series at UC Santa Barbara, hitting 7-for-13 with three doubles and a home run. He was second on the team with six home runs and 11 doubles, stealing 3-of-4 bases. At the hot corner, Lopez produced 92 assists, with a role in seven double plays.
Finally, sophomore right fielder Adam Fogel (Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes High School) received honorable mention for the second time in his two-year career. Fogel was the clear leader for the 'Bows in the first half of the season, batting .296 at the end of the campaign. He led UH with 37 RBI to rank seventh in the Big West, also scoring 29 times. Knocking 46.6 percent of his 58 hits for extra bases, he led the team in all three categories. His 17 doubles ranked second in the Big West and was the most for UH since 2011. Hitting eight home runs, Fogel tied for third in the conference and recorded the highest count for UH since 2010. He also tallied two triples. In right field, his speed and range was constantly on display, producing 118 putouts and three assists.
The three first-team honorees are the most for UH since joining the Big West in 2013, and also the highest first-team all-conference count for the Rainbow Warriors since 2010. Hawai'i finished the 2018 season at 27-24, producing the second consecutive winning season since joining the BWC.