CLEVELAND — As is tradition, the Mid-American Conference released its annual list of All-MAC performers the day prior to the baseball tournament and four RedHawks were honored Tuesday, May 24, at an awards ceremony at All Pro Freight Stadium. Gary Russo (DH) was named First-Team All-MAC while Ross Haffey (1B), Cole Gnetz (RHP) and Steve Sada (2B) took home Second-Team All-MAC honors.
Russo, a senior, was one of the most explosive hitters in the country this season. The designated hitter belted a career-high 18 home runs, a mark that ranks him sixth in the nation and first in the conference. His home run total this season is the third-most in a single season in a Miami uniform. Additionally, with 30 long balls for his career, it ties him for fifth-most in program history. The St. Louis, Mo. native started all but two games for the Red & White this season, collecting a .265 batting average to go with 35 runs, 28 extra base hits, 40 runs batted in and a .607 slugging percentage.
Haffey, a native of Birmingham, Mich., was nothing short of outstanding in his first season of game action in the Red & White. The 6-foot-5 first baseman started all 53 games for Miami and hit a team-best .368. The redshirt sophomore also led all RedHawk hitters in slugging percentage (.608), on base percentage (.456), runs (37), hits (75), runs batted in (44), doubles (19), total bases (124) and walks (33). Of his 53 games played, Haffey reached base safely in 51 one of those and earned at least one hit in 46 contests. Additionally, he collected a season-high 19-game hitting streak from Feb. 20 to March 26.
Gnetz, a native of Woodbury, Minn., grew into his role throughout the 2016 campaign and became a consistent arm in the Miami weekend rotation early on. The freshman finished the regular season with a 3.60 ERA over the course of 12 starts and one relief appearance. Gnetz tallied a 4-2 record on the year and racked up a team-high 61 strikeouts in 65 innings of work. The right-hander made his biggest splash this season when he allowed just three hits and struck out a career-best nine hitters in a complete game shutout at Northern Illinois on April 3. Gnetz is one of just two freshman pitchers to be recognized this year.
Sada, a junior, is the only RedHawk amongst this year’s honorees to make a second appearance on the All-MAC squad. Despite a down year in terms of his batting average (.225), the Saegertown, Pa native reached new career-highs in runs (46) and stolen bases (23), the latter of which ranked second in the MAC. As a freshman in 2014, Sada was named a Second-Team All-MAC selection and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.