Smith and Miller Named to the 2009 Wallace Award Watch List
Dec. 8, 2008
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - Two University of California baseball players, junior outfielder/pitcher Blake Smith and sophomore right-hander Kevin Miller, have been selected to the preseason watch list for the Wallace Award, which will honor the nation's top collegiate baseball player for the 2009 season.
The Wallace Award is presented to the nations top collegiate baseball player in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame's annual induction festivities. The 2009 award banquet will be held Thursday, July 2, in the United Spirit Arena on the campus of Texas Tech University. The Wallace Award is a dedication to the memory of the former Texas Tech player and assistant coach Brooks Wallace. In the summer of 1984, Wallace was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death on March 24, 1985, at age 27.
Smith was instrumental in the USA Baseball National (Collegiate) Team capturing the gold medal at the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic this past summer as the USA squad topped Japan, 1-0 in 12 innings for the title on July 27. He not only helped pace Team USA to an undefeated 24-0 record, he was the team's leading hitter during the national team's summer tour with a .327 average. Smith finished the summer 18-for-55 (.327) overall with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. He was also one of the national team's top relievers, sporting a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and two saves, striking out 11 batters with only three hits and three walks in 9.0 innings. Another highlight for Smith was going 1-for-3 with a home run versus a Cuban squad that competed in the Beijing Olympics.
Last spring, Smith batted .296 with 11 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 43 RBI for Cal. On the mound, he was 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA and had 36 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. Smith also threw two runners out at the plate from right field during the year and hit a two-run homer against Long Beach State at the NCAA Regional in Long Beach.
Miller was named a 2008 Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American last season, as well as honorable mention All-Pac-10, finishing the year 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA. He had 68 strikeouts in 71.1 innings and started his college career in impressive fashion, not giving up an earned run in his first 44.0 innings on the mound. Miller was second in the Pac-10 with his 2.90 ERA and a .196 opponent batting average.
Some of Miller's top games in 2008 included striking out a career-high eight batters in 6.2 innings versus Washington on Apr. 19, and defeating two-time defending national champion Oregon State in relief, throwing 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts. He ended up making 21 appearances with five starts, picking up six straight wins from Mar. 11 through May 11.
The Golden Bears, who qualified for an NCAA Regional last year with 33-21-2 overall mark and 12-12 record in the Pac-10, begin their '09 season with two home games at Evans Diamond versus UC Riverside on Friday, Feb. 20 at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. Cal then hosts Vanderbilt on Sunday, Feb. 22 and Monday, Fed. 23. Both games against the Commodores are slated for 1 p.m.