EAST GREENSBORO – Seven North Carolina A&T baseball players have received postseason Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) honors, as announced by the league on Tuesday.
Justin Williams (6-foot-1, JR, INF, Charlotte, N.C.) and Justin Rodriguez (6-2, JR, OF, Farmingdale, N.Y.) earned first-team All-MEAC accolades. Seniors Evan Gates (6-0, RHP, SR, Roseville, Mich.) and Ryne Stanley (6-0, SR, C, High Point, N.C.) made the second team.
Cole Parks (6-1, SR, RHP, Huntersville, N.C.), Zach McLean (6-1, JR, INF, High Point, N.C.) and Cameran Brantley (5-10, SO, OF, Charlotte, N.C.) graced the third team.
Williams had the best season of his collegiate career. He leads the MEAC in home runs (8), ranks second in RBI (38), total bases (87) and third in hits (53). Williams turned in a .298 batting average. His previous best was .232 in 2019. He earned MEAC player of the week honors once after going 3-for-4 with a home run, six RBI and three runs scored in a 10-5 win against Florida A&M on April 17.
Rodriguez leads the MEAC in RBI (43) and is the first A&T baseball player to eclipse 40 RBI since Adan Ordonez in 2017 (52). He ranks top-10 in the league in batting average (.313, 8th), slugging percentage (.463, 9th), runs scored (34, 9th), hits (50, 7th), home runs (5, T-5th) and total bases (74, 7th). Rodriguez sits in second place on the team and fourth in the MEAC with 14 stolen bases.
Gates is second in the MEAC in strikeouts (79). The senior had five saves as A&T’s closer this year to go with four wins and a 4.37 ERA. His best performance came on March 21 against N.C. Central when he threw 5.2 relief innings and gave up no runs on three hits with 11 strikeouts. Gates had five appearances in which he did not give up a hit, and he recorded a strikeout in all 21 of his appearances in 2021.
Stanley proved to be one of the best defensive catchers in the country yet again. He leads the MEAC in fielding percentage (1.000), putouts (369) and bases runners caught stealing (21). Stanley also had one of his best years at the plate with a .261 batting average, six doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI, a career-high. His best game came on March 14 against Elon when he went 2-for-3 with a home run and a season-high three RBI.
Parks had one of the best seasons of any pitcher in the conference. He led the Aggies and is seventh in the league with his 3.96 ERA. Parks held opposing batters to a .249 average and had 64 strikeouts to rank fifth in the MEAC in both categories. He had five wins on the year, also fifth in the league, including a three-game win streak to end the season. In his best performance, he pitched 7.0 innings, gave up two hits on one run, and had six strikeouts against NCCU on April 30. He reached double-figure strikeouts once when he had 10 against FAMU on April 16.
McLean batted .278 with eight doubles, three home runs and 18 RBI in 2021. He earned MEAC player of the week honors once after hitting three doubles, two home runs and compiling nine RBI in a weekend series against Coppin State. His best game came on March 23 against Coppin State when he went 2-for-4 with two doubles, four RBI and two runs scored.
Brantley finished with the fourth-best on-base percentage in the MEAC (.447) due to his league-leading 46 walks. Nationally, he is fourth in the country in walks. Brantley is second in the conference in runs scored (44), tied for fifth in home runs (five) and tied for eighth in total bases (72). His best game came against FAMU on April 16 when he went 2-for-4 with two home runs, two RBI, two runs scored and a walk drawn. He is the only A&T player with a multi-home run game this year.