Kent State Baseball’s Rider Earns Baseball America First Team All-America Honors
Senior shortstop ranked second in the country in hits and doubles while leading the Golden Flashes to first NCAA College World Series berth.
DURHAM, N.C. – Kent State baseball's senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) has been named a Baseball America 2012 First Team College All-America pick, the publication announced Friday (June 22).
Rider is one of eight seniors in the country to garner such honors and is the first Kent State student-athlete to be named to the first team in program history. Mike Gulan (third baseman, 1992) and Emmanuel Burriss (shortstop, 2006) garnered Second Team honors from Baseball America.
Rider put together a record-setting senior campaign en route to captaining the Golden Flashes to their first NCAA College World Series berth in program history. Rider set single-season school records with 106 hits and 30 doubles, ranking second in the country in 2012 in both categories. He ranked second on the team in batting average (.359) and RBIs (58), and his 295 at-bats rank as the most in a single-season in school history. Defensively, Rider cemented his place as the best shortstop in Kent State history with a .979 fielding percentage and a school-record 232 assists, which shattered his own previous mark of 199 established in his sophomore season of 2010. He committed just seven errors in 333 chances while fielding 32 double plays.
Rider hit .330 with 38 hits – including nine doubles and five home runs – to go along with 24 RBIs and 36 runs scored in Mid-American Conference play, earning him First Team All-MAC honors. Rider saved his best work for the national stage of NCAA Tournament, hitting a team-best .349 with a team-high 15 hits – including four doubles and a home run – to go along with nine RBIs. He produced the biggest hit in Kent State history in the winner-to-Omaha game three of the NCAA Eugene Super Regional, sending a bloop single into left field at PK Park to allow sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) to scamper home from second base and give the Golden Flashes a 3-2 walk-off win over then-No. 10 Oregon, punching Kent State's ticket to the 2012 NCAA College World Series. Rider goes down as the man responsible for the first run scored and RBI in Kent State's CWS history after launching a two-out solo shot into the opponent bullpen at TD Ameritrade Park in the sixth inning of Kent State's 8-1 loss to No. 6 Arkansas last Saturday (June 16) in the opening game of Bracket 2 of the 2012 NCAA College World Series. Rider posted a double and two singles for his team-leading 32nd multi-hit game of the season to help Kent State top No. 1 Florida, 5-4, Monday (June 18) in a Bracket 2 elimination game.
Rider finishes his career as the most prolific hitter in MAC history with a record 353 base knocks. He was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 26th round with the 796th pick of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Rider is the fourth Kent State player to be drafted by his hometown Pirates and first since pitcher John VanBenschoten was Pittsburgh's first-round selection in 2001. Rider collected his 319th hit with a single to right field in the top of the first inning in Kent State's 13-4 triumph at Ohio on May 6 to surpass Scott Simon (2003-04, 06-07) of Northern Illinois for the conference's career hits record. In four seasons wearing the Blue & Gold, Rider hit .335 with 78 doubles (third-most in school history), eight triples and 13 home runs to go along with 194 RBIs (third-most in school history), and his 1,035 at-bats are the most in school history. Defensively, Rider complied a school-record 771 career assists and committed just 37 errors in 1,164 career chances for a fielding percentage of .968. He made 246 starts in 247 games played.
The son of Rosalind and Jim Rider played shortstop for Peters Township High School under Joe Maize. He helped the Indians to a WPIAL Class AAAA state championship in 200 and was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette All-Section Team his sophomore and junior seasons.
Kent State's 2012 campaign was a historic one, with the Golden Flashes setting a new school standard for wins in a single season with 47, posting a 21-game winning streak and reaching the NCAA College World Series for the first time.
Ranked No. 8 in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Golden Flashes finished their 2012 campaign winning 39 of their last 49 games. The Flashes won a wire-to-wire regular season title and followed it up by going a perfect 4-0 in the MAC Tournament to clinch their fourth straight conference tournament crown.
Kent State, the NCAA Gary Regional's No. 3 seed, advanced to its second straight NCAA Regional winner's bracket final by outlasting Kentucky, 7-6, in 21 innings in the regional opener on June 1 – the second-longest game in the history of the NCAA Tournament – then knocked off the regional host and top seed, then-No. 16 Purdue, 7-3, the following day. Kent State clinched the NCAA Championship Gary Regional title with a 3-2 triumph over then-No. 13 Kentucky on June 3 at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., marking Kent State's first regional championship.
The Golden Flashes then traveled 2,492 miles to the Pacific Northwest to battle then-No. 10 Oregon in the best-of-three NCAA Eugene Super Regional. Junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) made a leaping, turn-around catch in deep left-center field to bail Kent State out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning and secure a heart-stopping 7-6 win over Oregon in the opening game of the series on June 9. The Ducks rallied from a 2-0 deficit the following night by plating three runs in the seventh inning to overcome the Flashes and force a winner-take-all game three. History repeated itself on June 11 as Kent State's 2-0 lead evaporated in the eighth inning, but a bottom-of-the-ninth, one-out, walk-off bloop single by Rider sent the Golden Flashes to Omaha for the first time in program history.
Kent State's first NCAA College World Series appearance was highlighted by a 5-4 win over No. 1 Florida in a Bracket 2 elimination game.