Andrew Morales, an All-American pitcher at UCI, won a top national honore Thursday. (FILE PHOTO / February 14, 2014)

UC Irvine senior All-American pitcher Andrew Morales won the 2014 Senior CLASS Award for baseball, given to the student-athlete who has demonstrated notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition.

"It is an honor I share with my coaches, teammates and all those who have mentored me," said Morales, who went 11-2 with a 1.53 earned-run average to help lead the Anteaters (41-25) to the College World Series. "To be recognized for the Senior CLASS Award is something that I feel is a very prestigious accomplishment."

Morales, the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year, leads the nation with 141 strikeouts, made an NCAA-best 19 starts this season. He was 21-2 in two seasons at UCI, after transferring from Rio Hondo Community College, where he was a combined 21-1.

The St. Louis Cardinals made him the 71st pick in the recent Major League Draft.

In the classroom, Morales will receive his degree in sociology. He said he intends to become a paramedic following a professional baseball career. He has volunteered at the Build-a-Bear store and handed out stuffed animals to patients at children's hospitals in Orange County and Los Angeles.

Morales is the second Anteater to win the award, joining UC Irvine pitching coach Daniel Bibona, who was recognized in 2010.

"As a fellow winner, I understand what it means and what a special award it is," Bibona said. "Andrew is well-deserving of it and exemplifies everything the award stands for, on and off the field."

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages them to use their platform in athletics to impact their communities as leaders.

"Andrew Morales has been an excellent example to the Irvine community and to his own family of how hard work and discipline can help you achieve success in college and in baseball," said Erik Miner, executive director for award. "He made UC Irvine baseball better, and he has set himself up for success by earning his degree."

— From staff reports