Junior pitcher Nick Sinacola of the University of Maine takes the return throw from the catcher during a recent game at Mahaney Diamond in Orono. Credit: Peter Buehner / UMaine athletics

Pitcher Nick Sinacola of University of Maine has been named to the Midseason Watch List as one of 45 candidates for the 2021 Golden Spikes Award that goes to the top amateur baseball player in the country.

The award was established in 1978.

The junior right-hander is the first UMaine player to earn the distinction and he is only the second America East Conference player to be placed on the watch list since its inception.

The other was Stony Brook’s Travis Jankowski, an outfielder in the Philadelphia Phillies organization who has appeared in 350 major league games.

The only other candidate from a New England school is Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick.

Sinacola, a 6-foot-1 native of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, is 5-0 with a 1.42 earned run average this season. He leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (18.19) and has struck out at least 10 hitters in every start.

He has racked up 64 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings and has allowed only 19 hits, including one homer and five extra-base hits. He has walked 12 and opponents are hitting a meager .170 against him.

Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman took home the prestigious award most recently, in 2019, joining a group of recent winners that include Andrew Benintendi (2015), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Trevor Bauer (2011), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008) and David Price (2007).

The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will continue to maintain a rolling list of athletes, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award before announcing the semifinalists on June 8.

Sinacola and the Black Bears, 11-8 overall and 6-5 in America East, will host Hartford for noon doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Mahaney Diamond in Orono.