Dec. 5, 2008

LUBBOCK, Texas — A year after becoming the first Kentucky pitcher named first-team All-Southeastern Conference in 11 years, UK standout left-hander Chris Rusin has been named to the Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Watch List, it was announced on Friday morning.

Rusin, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound southpaw, had a career year in 2008, becoming UK’s first, first-team All-SEC selection since MLB setup man Scott Downs earned the honor in 1997. Rusin, who joined Florida’s Patrick Keating and Georgia closer Joshua Fields on the All-SEC team in 2008, posted impressive numbers throughout the season, functioning as UK’s Friday night starter. The Canton, Mich., native started 13 games, earning a 6-3 record and a 3.33 ERA in 83.2 innings, striking out a team-high 65. Following the season, the Oakland Athletics selected Rusin in the 23rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

Rusin’s numbers were skewed towards the end of the year, as his ERA climbed above the 3.00 mark in his final, injury-riddled start in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional. Throw out his 1.1 inning performance against No. 13 Michigan – the worst statistical outing of his career – and Rusin finished with a 2.84 ERA and a 6-2 record in 82.1 innings. Rusin, who hurled quality starts in 9-of-13 starting nods, totaled a 2.63 ERA on the road in 2008, striking out 33 in 37 innings. During his three-year career, Rusin has earned a 16-7 record in 43 appearances and 32 starts, earning a 4.11 ERA in 208 innings, totaling 166 strikeouts.

Two of Rusin’s three losses on the season came when the lefty hurled two complete-game performances on the road in the SEC (at Auburn, at Vanderbilt vs. Mike Minor) – two eight-inning complete games that saw Rusin strike out 18 and allow five runs.

The Brooks Wallace Preseason Watch List honor is the third consecutive for the UK baseball program, as outfielders Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill – both first-team All-Americans in 2008 – were tabbed to the preseason listing a year ago. In 2007, Cowgill and catcher Sean Coughlin – also a first-team All-American – were named to the Brooks Wallace Watch List. A year ago, Carroll, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, finished the season as one of eight semifinalists for the award, with Florida State catcher/reliever Buster Posey claiming the honor.

The Wildcats, winners of a school-record 44 games in 2008, open the 2009 season Feb. 20 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., participating in the Coastal Carolina preseason tournament, featuring tradition powers Troy and James Madison.  Over the last three years, UK ranks fourth in the SEC in terms of total wins, running up 122 wins, with Vanderbilt’s 133 wins leading the way.

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