The University of Maine baseball team's sophomore first baseman Jeremiah Jenkins prepares to swing while in cold weather garb during the 2023 spring season. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

University of Maine sophomore first baseman Jeremiah Jenkins, who has belted 18 home runs and driven in 70 runs to go with a .371 average and .500 on-base percentage, was named the America East Player of the Year on Tuesday.

UMaine head coach Nick Derba, who guided the Black Bears to a second-straight America East regular season title, was named the conference’s Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.

Black Bears dominated the conference honors, with Jenkins as one of six Black Bears chosen to the All-America East first team. The others were junior second baseman Quinn McDaniel, junior shortstop Jake Rainess, senior designated hitter Connor Goodman and pitchers Colin Fitzgerald, a sophomore, and Gianni Gambardella, a freshman.

McDaniel was a first team selection last season and Jenkins was a second team pick and was also chosen to the All-Rookie team.

Graduate student center fielder Dylan McNary and junior pitcher Noah Lewis were picked to the second team and joining Gambardella on the All-Rookie team was relief pitcher Luc Lavigueur. Fitzgerald and Goodman earned spots on the All-Academic team thanks to 3.94 and 3.90 grade-point averages, respectively.  

Jenkins, a native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, has had 20 multiple-hit games, including seven three-hit games and three four-hit games. His .753 slugging percentage, 18 homers and 70 RBIs were tops in the conference. The left-handed slugger had 15 games with at least two RBIs and eight with four or more including three six-RBI games.

He led the conference in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) at 1.253. He also made just three errors in 400 chances at first base after being the DH last season.

Derba, who is in his sixth season as the head coach, piloted the Black Bears to a 19-5 conference record and overall mark of 29-19. His Black Bears led the conference in hitting with a .295 average and was second in team earned-run average and fielding percentage.

Eliot’s McDaniel hit .358 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. He tied Rainess for the league lead in runs scored with 71 and his 32 stolen bases in 37 attempts tied him for second in the conference with UMass Lowell’s Jacob Humphrey from Standish.

He drew a school-record 55 walks and he was the league leader in on-base percentage at .519. He was also second in America East in slugging percentage (.682) and OPS (1.201).

Rainess was the conference leader in stolen bases with 37 and tied with McDaniel in runs scored. He hit .325 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs and was third in OPS (1.086). McDaniel and Rainess shared the team lead in doubles with 13 each, while Goodman hit .330 with two homers and 45 RBIs and struck out just 14 times in 188 at-bats.

Fitzgerald was 6-1 with a 4.27 ERA. He struck out 58 and walked 39 in 71 2/3 innings. He had six quality starts in which he went at least six innings and allowed three earned runs or less. Opponents hit .248 against him. Gambardella was 5-3 with two saves and a 3.40 ERA. He struck out 40 and walked just 11 in 47 2/3 innings.

South Portland’s Lewis went 6-1 with a 4.36 ERA. He allowed only 54 hits in 74 ⅓ innings and struck out 69 while walking 37.

McNary hit. 299 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs and also had a 1.025 OPS and .632 slugging percentage before being lost for the season with a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch.

Lavigueur was 1-3 with a 7.92 ERA but has allowed only three earned runs in his last six relief appearances spanning 8 1/3 innings.

University of Maryland Baltimore County junior righthander Luke Johnson was the conference’s Pitcher of the Year and his teammate, first baseman Leewood Molessa, was the Rookie of the Year. The awards were chosen by the league’s coaches.

The six-team tournament begins in Vestal, New York, on Wednesday and UMaine will play the winner of the lowest seeded winner in Wednesday’s playoff games involving the third, fourth, fifth and sixth seeds at 11 a.m. Thursday.