Florida Memorial’s Christian Rivera & Malik Shinozaki Honored By Black College Nines

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NAIA/SUN/Baseball

 

Florida Memorial Sports Information

 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – While spring sports were abruptly and unceremoniously ended due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, Florida Memorial University’s baseball team had a pair of players recognized for their strong play during the shortened season.

Lions junior pitcher Christian Rivera was named to the Black College Nines Elites Small School Division Second Team and FMU freshman outfielder Malik Shinozaki was named as an honorable mention on the publication’s Top “No Fly Zone” Fleet-Footed Outfielders list.

Black College Nines, a national publication that covers current and historical historically Black college and university (HBCU) baseball news, doled out its annual individual honors based on short-season statistical information, mid-season reports, and information from sports information directors around the country.

In addition to the superlative teams – which were broken down into “large school” (NCAA D-I) and “small school” (NCAA D-II and below) divisions – the publication also voted on and named coach of the year, player of the year, pitcher of the year, and freshman of the year.

Rivera earned his spot among the 57 total players honored by proving himself to be one of the Lions’ top pitchers through the condensed season. He appeared in six games, earned three wins, recorded a team-high 32 strikeouts, and compiled a 3.81 ERA.

The 6-foot-2, Juana, Puerto Rico native had what was probably his best outing of the season in February when he held FMU’s Sun Conference foe University of South Carolina-Beaufort to three hits and one run in 6.1 innings pitched while striking out seven.

Florida Memorial University head coach Florentino “Tino” Burgos called Rivera a fierce competitor.

Christian Rivera is one of the top arms in the NAIA and among all HBCU’s,” Burgos said. “He’s a fierce competitor that gets after it on the mound…what’s really scary about him is that he’s still getting better.”

Shinozaki being named among Black College Nines’ Top Fleet-Footed Outfielders is no surprise given the athleticism and skill he’s shown playing in leftfield for the Lions.

The Japan native made a Sportscenter-worthy play back in March when Chestnut Hill’s batter hit a fly ball deep to left, the “Magic Man” took off in a full sprint about 80 feet and made a “web gem” type catch – securing the ball with the top side of his glove over his right shoulder.

Shinozaki also showed his offensive chops in a short amount of time, going 3-for-6 in five games with four runs scored, three RBI, a home run, a triple, and two stolen bases.

Burgos said he’s excited for the future with Shinozaki.

“Malik has a tremendous skillset – he can run, throw, and hit,” Burgos said. “As Malik continues to progress as a player, he should end up being one of the top outfielders in all of NAIA.”

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