Birko named to Capital One Academic All-America (R) Baseball First Team
May 27, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. ET
PITTSBURGH -- The accomplishments keep coming for Point Park University baseball senior Tom Birko. The native of Kennedy Twp., Pa., was named on Tuesday (May 27) to the Capital One Academic All-America (R) College Division Baseball First Team by CoSIDA.
Birko, a graduate of Montour High School who recently became Point Park baseball's all-time leader with 220 career hits, is now in elite company among NAIA baseball players. With his 3.70 grade-point average as a graduate student pursuing his MBA, Birko was voted as one of the 11 players on the Capital One Academic All-America (R) College Division First Team.
Birko is one of four infielders on the first team, meaning that he is among the top four infielders in the NAIA in terms of combined performance in academics and athletics. The College Division is made of players from NAIA and junior colleges, although 21 of the 22 players named to the first and second teams are from the NAIA.
Recipients of the Capital One Academic All-America honors are voted on and selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Honorees are nominated by the CoSIDA member at their school, and they are selected for their combined performance in athletics and academics.
Members of the Capital One Academic All-America teams must first be selected to the Capital One Academic All-District (R) First Team. Then, their names advance to the national ballot where they are again voted on by members of CoSIDA for Academic All-America consideration.
Birko, who hit .335 with two home runs and 40 RBIs during his senior season of 2014, earned Capital One (R) Academic All-America honors for the second year in a row. He was on the third team in 2013, and he is just the second Point Park baseball player ever to make the first team, an honor that was also achieved by Don McDuffee in 2013.
Point Park baseball has at least one Capital One Academic All-America for the third year in a row. Derek Peluso made the second team in 2012 as the program's first-ever honoree followed by McDuffee (first team) and Birko (third team) in 2013.
Birko is in just the second Point Park student-athlete to be named Capital One Academic All-America in multiple years. The only other Pioneers student-athlete to do that in any sport was Lindsey Oberacker, a volleyball alum who was Capital One Academic All-America First Team in 2011 and 2012.
Of the 22 players on the first and second teams this year, Birko is one of only four who are repeat honorees. He joins Taylor (Ind.) pitcher Josh DeGraaf, St. Francis (Ill.) outfielder David Kuhne and William Woods (Mo.) infielder Matt Thomas as players who were named in previous years.
For Birko, it is another great honor in a senior season and career full of honors. Birko became Point Park all-time career hits leader April 26, 2014 when he went 3 for 4 in the KIAC Tournamnt championship game to pass Mike D. Smith, who's career total of 216 hits stood as the record for 14 years.
Birko extended the career hits record to 220 during Point Park's games in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round, a mark that is the new standard on the Pioneers' career hits chart.
Birko is a three-time all-conference player, which was capped off by being named to the All-KIAC Second Team and the second baseman on the All-KIAC Gold Glove team in 2014. Birko's 2014 season included a .335 average, 64 hits, 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 40 RBIs. He was 9 for 10 in stolen bases and had a .965 fielding percentage.
For his career, Birko hit .337 with four home runs and 142 RBIs in 200 games. Birko ranks in the Top 10 in the Point Park record book in eight categories as follows: 200 games played (2nd), 652 at bats (1st), 158 runs (8th), 220 hits (1st), 142 RBIs (9th), 124 bases on balls (2nd), 365 assists (T-2nd) and 68 double plays (T-2nd).
For a complete listing of the Capital One Academic All-America (R) First & Second Teams, download the CoSIDA Release at the link above or visit www.cosida.com
The other infielders on the First Team are Sam Lind (3.56 GPA) of Cumberland (Tenn.), who was hitting .390 with 14 homers and 79 RBIs before leading his team to the NAIA World Series, Riley Swanson (3.91 GPA) of Mt. Vernon Nazarene, who hit .372 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs and Mitchell Osnowitz (3.80 GPA) of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), who hit .375 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs.
The Capital One Academic All-America of the Year for the College Division was E.J. Grochowalski, a catcher from Davenport (Mich.). He had a 4.0 GPA in finance and hit .355 with two home runs and 34 RBIs.