Dayton, Tenn. – A junior from Winsted, Conn., Justin Morhardt (JR/Winsted, Conn.), has led the Bryan College Lions Baseball Team to an overall record of 35-16 and Appalachian Athletic Conference record of 17-10 while downing five top-25 opponents along the way from the catcher position. Despite the threat he offers from behind the plate, he has helped bring national attention to the Lions because of his bat. The reputation he has earned as one of the most impressive sluggers in conference and numbers produced that spell out nothing less than NAIA Player of the Year gave way to him being named 2017 AAC Player of the Year. He leads the conference in batting average connecting for a .466 and also sits atop the list in hits at 76 averaging 1.49 per game. He's 10th in total RBI's, leads the AAC in doubles with 19, is 11th with 10 homeruns, ranks 1st in on base percentage at .579, and is slugging .767 to place 4th. He is also recognized on the national level at 5th in batting average, 17th in slugging percentage, 18th in total hits, 25th in total doubles, 33rd in total bases and hits per game, and 41st in doubles per game (.373). Last season after transferring to Bryan from Liberty University (Va.), Morhardt amassed a team-high 17 doubles and 48 RBI's with a notable .366 batting average. His .590 slugging percentage led the team, while he ripped eight homeruns and 67 hits to earn All-Conference First Team Honors.
Morhardt, along with three other teammates: Trevor Behrent (JR/Catawissa, Pa.), Chad Burrows (SR/Nassau, Bahamas), and Wade Weinburger (FR/James Cistern, Bahamas), were named to the 2017 All-Conference First Team. Lake Burris (SO/Chatsworth, Ga.) was the Lion's lone representative to the All-Conference Second Team.
Of the four individual player awards announced by the league Wednesday evening at the AAC Baseball Tournament held in Kingsport, Tenn., Bryan claimed half as Morhardt took POY, and Weinburger was recognized as the Freshman of the Year. The Lions Program's regular-season homerun record was set by Drew Friedrich in 2007 and again by Preston King in 2015, but the James Cistern, Bahamas native matched the mark on April 1 in the series finale with conference foe, Point University (Ga.). Weinburger's 13th bomb came on the first day of April, which left 15 games of the regular-season for him to make his own history and that's exactly what he did. He followed with a pair of long shots in a meeting with Union College (Ky.), one against Martin Methodist College (Tenn.), and a single homerun registered on Senior Day against Montreat for a grand total of 17 homers. He was passed late by Burris who took the crown as the regular-season homerun record holder for Bryan with 18 posted this year, but Weinburger is now second in the record books. He averaged .356, which is 12th best in the AAC. His slugging percentage was extraordinary at .774 and ranked him 3rd in conference. When he got on base, it was expected for him to get home as he averaged 1.22 runs per game and collected 62 runs scored, which was the best in the both categories among everybody in the AAC. He was 10th in conference with 63 hits, 4th in runs batted in with 53, 10th in doubles with 13, 3rd in triples with five, 5th in homeruns, and 2nd with 137 total bases. In the country, he ranked 13th in total runs scored, 14th in homeruns, 15th in slugging percentage, 16th in total bases, 18th in homeruns per game (.333), 20th in runs scored per game, 22nd in total triples, 23rd in total bases per game (2.686), and 48th in triples per game.
In his first season with the Lions, Behrent came just shy of ousting the previous homerun record holders as he ended the regular-season with 11 drives over the fence. He has consistently produced for Bryan at the plate, registering the AAC's 6th best batting average at .391. He ranks 9th in conference in slugging percentage at .690 and 7th in runs scored with 48. His 68 hits place him in 6th, and his 57 RBI's are a team-high and are 2nd highest in the AAC. He has connected for 17 doubles to rank 2nd in conference in the category, 11 homers for 10th place, 120 total bases for 6th, and holds a .483 on base percentage to place 4th. In the NAIA, Behrent is 32nd in total RBI's, 47th in RBI's per game, and 50th in total doubles.
Senior Chad Burrows was the only Bryan pitcher to make All-Conference, and the honor was well deserved as he hurled 54.1 innings through the regular-season and was a perfect 10-0 with seven saves and a 2.82 earned run average. In the first half of the season, his strong arm on the mound was capitalized in the role as a closer, but he was needed in difference capacities as the year went on. He adapted and remained extremely dependable for the Lions. His ERA is 4th best in the AAC, 57 strikeouts are 9th best, and 9.44 batters struck out per game ranks him 7th. Burrows surrendered only 44 hits, which ranked him 2nd just behind fellow Lion, Chris Sauve (SR/Mascouche, Quebec), who gave up just 35 hits through 54 innings pitched. He allowed a mere 20 runs to rank 2nd in the AAC, led all pitchers with 10 wins, and claimed the No. 1 spot with seven saves. His wins rank him 8th in the country, total runs allowed is 13th best, saves fall in at 19th, 21st in total hits allowed, 29th in total earned runs allowed (17), and 48th in hits allowed per game (7.29).
All-Conference Second Team honoree, Burris, came to Dayton from Chatsworth, Ga. and capped off his sophomore year in serious style by becoming the regular-season homerun record holder in Bryan Baseball history. He impressed majority of the season, but it was the final stretch that he used to pass up other team leaders and launch eight jacks over a 14-game span to set the bar at 18. He slugged .701 this season, which is 6th best in the AAC and 3rd on a team that ranks 3rd in the nation in both total homeruns and slugging percentage. He ranks 3rd in conference in total homeruns and 11th in the country. He is at .38 homeruns per game, which is 2nd in the conference and 9th in the NAIA.
Brookes Jones (SR/Franklin,Tenn.) was Bryan's representative to the AAC Champions of Character Team. The student-athletes selected to the Champions of Character Team are those who best represent the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character Program: respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership, and sportsmanship.
Seven members from the Lions team earned All-Academic honors: Tucker Cain (SO/Jacksboro, Tenn.), Miguel Lopez (JR/Yaucco, Puerto Rico), Brandon Marklund (JR/North Vancouver, Canada), and Travis Moore (SR/Hastings, Mich.). To make the Academic All-Conference Team, a student-athlete must be a sophomore, junior, or senior and maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or higher.
To view all of the AAC awards, click here.
Keep up with the AAC Tournament on the Tournament Page.