June 11, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ryan Bomberger
Sabato, Thornton are nation's best first-year players
Bookmark and Share

LYNCHBURG, VA. (NCBWA) – University of North Carolina first baseman Aaron Sabato and St. Mary's (Calif.) College right-hander Tyler Thornton have been named the 2019 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Freshman Hitter and Pitcher of the Year recipients, as announced by the organization today.

Sabato, the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year, posted a .343 batting average and drove in 63 RBI, both team highs, for the North Carolina Tar Heels this season. The first baseman/designated hitter also set a new single season North Carolina freshman record with 18 home runs and ripped 25 doubles. He led North Carolina with a .358 batting average during ACC play and paced the Tar Heels with 79 hits, 160 total bases and a .696 slugging percentage.

Sabato helped North Carolina post a 46-19 overall record and a 17-13 mark in ACC, before winning the 2019 ACC Championship. The Tar Heels ranked among the nation’s top teams throughout the season in the NCBWA Weekly poll and claimed the 2019 NCAA Chapel Hill, N.C., Regional.

The Rye Brook, N.Y., native also led North Carolina with 23 multi-hit games and 17 multi-RBI games. Sabato scored 47 runs and finished the year with a .453 on base percentage.

Sabato was named to the NCBWA Freshmen All-American first team, yesterday. He was also selected to the 2019 Baseball America All-American team and garnered first team All-American, freshman All-American and Co-National Freshman of the Year from Collegiate Baseball.

Thornton, the West Coast Conference Freshman the Year, posted a 10-2 record with a 2.71 ERA in 13 starts for the St. Mary's Gaels in 2019. In 76.1 innings, the right-hander struck out 94 and walked 27 batters. He also had a 0.97 WHIP and a .175 opponent batting average.

A first team WCC All-Conference, Thornton’s Gaels finished the year with a 35-22 overall record and a 17-10 WCC mark. The Gaels finished third in the WCC regular season standings and were runner-ups in the WCC tournament.

Thornton finished 2019 ranked 11th in the country and first in the WCC in hits allowed per nine innings (5.54) and finished with the second most wins nationally. His 10 wins were the most of any Gael pitcher since 1991.

The San Diego, Calif., native was named the WCC Pitcher of the Week twice during the 2019 season and earned a spot on the WCC Championship All-Tournament team. The right-hander has already been named the 2019 Collegiate Baseball Freshman Pitcher of the Year and has been invited to compete for a spot on the USA Collegiate National Team.

Founded in 1962, the NCBWA is dedicated to the advancement of college baseball. Membership is open to writers, broadcasters and publicists of the sport. For more information about the NCBWA, visit the association's official Web site, ncbwa.com. For more information, contact Ryan Bomberger (rbomberger@liberty.edu).