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Valaika, Hynick earn top Pioneer honors

August 31, 2006
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.