Valaika, Hynick earn top Pioneer honors
Chris Valaika's 32-game hit streak set an all-time Pioneer League mark. (Billings Mustangs)
The Billings Mustangs placed a league-best three players on the Pioneer League's 2006 postseason All-Star Team, including Most Valuable Player Chris Valaika.
Valaika, a shorstop who is batting .340 with eight homers and 60 RBIs, had a 32-game hit streak stopped last Sunday. It was the longest streak in the history of the Pioneer League.
The Valencia, Calif., native joins his double-play partner, Justin Turner, and Mustangs pitcher Jordan Smith on the All-Star Team.
Casper placed two players on the team, including Pitcher of the Year Brandon Hynick.
Hynick went 4-3 this season in 12 starts with a 2.39 ERA in 64 innings pitched. The 6-foot-2 right-hander from Ohio allowed 55 hits and 17 earned runs with 70 strikeouts and eight walks.
Designated hitter Hector Gomez is also on the squad from Casper. He had a .327 batting average in 50 games with 66 hits and 35 RBIs.
Also nominated for Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year were: Chris Errecart of Helena and Chris Carter of Great Falls, along with Sean O'Sullivan of Orem and Billings' Smith, respectively.
Other players named to the All-Star Team were catcher Andy Bouchie (Helena); first baseman Chris Carter (Great Falls); third baseman Josh Bell (Ogden); outfielders Gerrardo Parra (Missoula); Chris Pettit (Orem) and Errecart; and pitchers Osbek Castillo (Missoula), Rowdy Hardy (Idaho Falls), Hynick, Smith and O'Sullivan.
Rick Burleson of Billings was chosen as Manager for the All-Star squad. His Mustangs won the first-half North title and are ahead of Missoula and Helena for the second-half title as well.
Orem's Tom Kotchman, whose Owlz also won the first-half South title and are currently tied for first, was also named to the squad.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.