Inside Pitch Magazine, Summer 2014

The Change Up: Dan Altavilla Named Winner of 2014 Brett Tomko Award

Awarding NCAA DIv. II Baseball's Most Outstanding Player

By Robert Spoelker

Dan AltavillaInside Pitch would like to congratulate Dan Altavilla, a junior pitcher for the Mercyhurst Lakers, for being named the winner of the inaugural Brett Tomko Award presented by Inside Pitch

The to-be annual award is given to college baseball’s most outstanding NCAA Division II pitcher and is named after the former Florida Southern College Moccasin, Brett Tomko. A former NCAA Division II Player of the Year himself, Tomko was a second round pick in the MLB draft and played 14 seasons in the major leagues.

After naming 30 semifinalists for the award on May 15, eight finalists were announced on May 23: Altavilla, Tyler Badamo (Dowling), Craig Brooks (Catawba), Jordan DeLorenzo (West Florida), Brannon Easterling (St. Edward's), Jason Hoppe (Minnesota State), Paul Hvozdovic (Sheperd), and Trevor Oaks (Cal Baptist).

A national panel of media, coaches, and sports information officers was polled to narrow down the semifinalists, voting once again on the finalists. An internet vote also contributed to crowning the winner, announced on June 2 following the DII baseball championships held this year in Cary, North Carolina.

Altavilla finished 2014 with a 9-1 record with an incredible NCAA-leading five shutouts – one of which was a no-hitter. He had a 1.23 ERA, which was fifth in the nation, holding opponents to a .167 batting average.

Altavilla tied for tops in the country with 129 K's in just 80.1 innings of work. In nine of his 12 starts, Altavilla fanned at least 10 batters, highlighted by a 19 – strikeout performance against West Chester in only 7.2 innings in the opening game of the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference tournament.

His presence on the mound helped Mercyhurst to a 30-15 record and the Lakers advanced to the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament. His presence in the classroom was just as impressive, earning Captial One Academic All-American honors with a 3.70 GPA in sports medicine and pre-physical therapy. 

In addition to capturing the first Tomko Award, Altavilla has been named a First Team All-American by both Daktronics and the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association. He was also the Atlantic Region Pitcher of the Year, named by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Rawlings, Daktronics and the National College Baseball Writers Association.

Altavilla won an extremely close vote to win the award, just barely besting West Florida's Jordan DeLorenzo and St. Edward's Brannon Easterling who finished second and third respectively.

About Brett Tomko
In 1995, Brett Tomko had a spectacular season pitching for the Florida Southern College Moccasins which was full of both incredible individual and team success. Tomko compiled an incredible 15-2 record with a 1.35 ERA and amassed 154 strikeouts in just 126.3 innings. He also threw seven complete games, three of which were shutouts, and also added a pair of saves.

Tomko led the Mocs to the Division II Championship and threw a complete-game shutout to give FSC its eighth national title. He was named the outstanding player of the Division II Championship and was the Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year. Tomko earned the distinct recognition of being the first athlete ever to be awarded both the NCAA Division II Player and Pitcher of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Following Tomko's historic season in Lakeland, the Cincinnati Reds drafted him in the second round of the Major League Amateur Draft. He made his big league debut with the Reds two years later and went on to win one hundred MLB games in 14 seasons. Five times Tomko reached the double-digit win plateau while pitching in the big leagues and he was also able to accrue over 190 innings on the mound five times as well.

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.