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Craig Lewis

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Craig Edward Lewis

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[edit] Biographical information

Craig Lewis was a two-way star in Australia who alternated between hitting and pitching in the USA.

Lewis debuted with the Canberra Bushrangers of the 1994-1995 Australian Baseball League, going 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA and 17 walks in 23 2/3 IP. When Canberra folded, Lewis was out of Australian ball for a couple years. He went to the United States for college. His 1.75 ERA was 6th among NJCAA Division I pitchers in 1997, trailing Roy Oswalt and Aaron Myette most notably. He made All-America alongside Myette and Aaron Akin as pitchers.

In the 1997 Intercontinental Cup, the young hurler went 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA for the Australian national team despite 7 walks in 8 1/3 IP. Australia won the Bronze Medal, their first Medal ever in an international tournament. Coming in with a 4-1 deficit in the Bronze Medal game, Craig relieved David White and allowed one run in 3 1/3 IP; when he left, Australia had a 5-4 lead and would go on to top Team USA. In the lineup facing Lewis were Pat Burrell, Bubba Crosby, Adam Everett, Jason Tyner, Eric Munson, Eric Valent and Chris Magruder.

Joining the Sydney Storm for the 1997-1998 season, Lewis was 1-2 with a save and a 6.75 ERA and hit .138/.138/.276. He yielded five home runs in 14 2/3 IP. The New York Yankees signed the right-hander and sent him to their Greensboro Bats affiliate. Put into the rotation, he had a 11-6, 3.37 record with 178 strikeouts and just 34 walks in 173 2/3 IP. He led Yankee farmhands in innings and Ks in a fine debut in Organized Baseball.

Craig fell to 1-1, 8.10 for the 1998-1999 Storm. He was apparently injured that summer, only pitching 14 games between Greensboro (4-0, Sv, 2.66) and the Tampa Yankees (0-1, 5.27). Lewis allowed three runs in two innings for Tampa in 2000 and that was his full year.

Returning to Australia for the 2000-2001 International Baseball League of Australia, Lewis went 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA. Signg as a free agent with the Montréal Expos chain for 2001, the tall hurler pitched for the Vermont Expos (1-1, 1.80 in 6 G) and the Jupiter Hammerheads (2-1, 1.05 in 17 G).

Lewis tossed 3 2/3 shutout innings in the 2002 Claxton Shield but took the field for the first time in four years. He was 5 for 20 with two doubles for the New South Wales Patriots. In the US that year, he split time between the Brevard County Manatees (1-2, 4.05 in 12 G) and Harrisburg Senators (1-2, 3.95 in 17 G), ending his Organized Baseball career at AA and his pitching career in the States.

The Sydney native allowed 2 runs (1 earned) in 5 innings for New South Wales in 2003. He was now being used full-time at first base, hitting .565/.600/1.043 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in six games. He won the batting title, a Gold Glove at first and the Claxton Shield MVP Helms Award.

Lewis signed with the Brockton Rox for 2003 and they used him at first, where he batted .323/.365/.485 with 26 doubles. He finished third in the Northeast League in average behind Dennis Abreu and Vic Davilla. The Wallace State alumnus hit .136/.333/.273 for the Patriots in the winter of 2004 for a major drop-off but tossed three shutout innings and registered a save. For Brockton in '04, Lewis hit .265/.319/.471.

Lewis was Australia's only two-way player in the 2004 Olympics. He hit just .211/.286/.211 while splitting DH duties with Andrew Utting and was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA on the hill. Pinch-hitting for Paul Gonzalez in the Gold Medal game, he was retired by Adiel Palma in a 6-2 loss to Cuba.

Lewis hit .200/.259/.240 for New South Wales in 2005 and pitched 1/3 of a shutout inning. He batted .305/.355/.489 in his final season with the Rox. He led the club with 61 runs, 12 homers (tied), 50 RBI (tied) and 37 extra-base hits in his final campaign in America. As a 1B-LF for Australia in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, the veteran hit .333/.391/.476 as a solid producer; he also tossed a shutout inning.

In 2006, Lewis gave up one run but five hits in 2 1/3 IP for New South Wales and batted .308/.333/.577 with 5 runs and 5 RBI in six games to wrap up his career.

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