NewsMVNU to Honor Senior Baseball Players on Tuesday
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - The Mount Vernon Nazarene University baseball team will honor its seven senior players on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. prior to the team’s non-conference nine-inning game against the College of Wooster to close out the regular season.
Chris McKinney, Steve Edwards, Nate Rutkowski, Derek Morey, Tim Martini, Ty Dendinger, and Jon Barchus have helped to lead the Cougars to a 130-61 record (.681 winning percentage) over the past four seasons as MVNU has won two conference titles and finished fifth at the NAIA World Series in 2004. The team is currently 24-12 overall this season and finished second in the American Mideast Conference South Division with an 18-6 mark.
McKinney, an infielder from Johnstown, Ohio, has played in 90 games over the past two seasons for the Cougars after transferring to MVNU from Columbus State Community College. The former New Albany High School product has a career batting average of .320 with 56 RBI. McKinney played in a school-record 59 games in 2004 as he was named to the AMC South Division First Team, the National Christian College Athletic Association East Region Team, the NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American Team, and the NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team.
"Chris has had a tough year, but has not let it affect his desire to play or his passion for the game,” said MVNU head coach Keith Veale of McKinney, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery in the off-season. "He is an intense competitor who understands the game well. He has kept a positive outlook for the team even when an injury has kept him out of the lineup a good portion of the year.”
Edwards, an outfielder from Grove City, Ohio, has seen action in 84 games over the past two years after also transferring in from Columbus State. The former Grove City High School graduate has posted a .346 career batting average with 18 doubles, 56 runs scored, and 47 RBI. In 2004, Edwards was named to the AMC South Division First Team, the NCCAA East Region Team, and the NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American Team.
"It has been gratifying to see Steve grow over the past two years,” said Veale. "He has high expectations for himself and is never satisfied. He has played through some injuries and we miss him if he is not in the lineup. I am proud of the way he has handled life on and off the field.”
Rutkowski, an outfielder from Davidson, North Carolina, has played in 121 career games since transferring to MVNU from Wooster. In his three seasons with the Cougars, the former Mt. Greylock Regional High School standout is batting .281 with 20 stolen bases in 23 attempts. This season, Rutkowski is batting a career-high .308 with 15 RBI and a team-high eight stolen bases.
"Through dedication and hard work, Nate has made himself into a quality college baseball player,” said Veale. "He has worked his way into the starting lineup this year and has responded well. He has been a two-year captain and a respected leader on and off the field. He has a great heart for others and has demonstrated the spiritual leadership that every team needs.”
Morey, a right-handed pitcher from Horseheads, New York, has posted an 8-7 career record with a 4.62 ERA in his four years with the Cougars. In 120 2/3 innings of work, the former Horseheads High School star has struck out 56 batters. Morey was an AMC North Division Honorable Mention pick as a sophomore in 2003, and he traveled with Athletes in Action to Latin America during the summer of 2004.
"Derek has bounced back from surgery and finished our last conference game with a tremendous performance over the weekend,” said Veale. "He has thrown some key ball games in his career including a playoff win in his sophomore season. His ability to throw his breaking pitches for strikes has kept opposing hitters off-balance.”
Martini, an outfielder from Galena, Ohio, has compiled a .302 career batting average in 166 games during his four years at MVNU. The former Olentangy High School product has scored 115 career runs to go with 67 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Martini was named to the AMC North Division Team, the NCCAA East Region Team, and the NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American Team as a sophomore in 2003.
"Tim has been a valuable player for us through his four years,” said Veale. "His versatility is important to our team. He has played many positions and played them well. I have appreciated his unselfishness and constant willingness to help the team.”
Dendinger, a first baseman from Greenwich, Ohio, has posted a .311 batting average in 137 games during his four years with the Cougars. The former South Central High School standout has driven in 68 career runs to go with 20 doubles. As a sophomore, Dendinger was an NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention selection, and he is batting .398 with 23 RBI this season.
"Ty has been an injury magnet in his career,” said Veale. "You name it and he has probably had it. However, through it all, he has been a gamer by playing through a lot of pain the past couple of years. He has always been a team player. He has shown great leadership in his senior year, and he has played his best baseball this year.”
Barchus, a right-handed pitcher from Crestline, Ohio, has posted a 19-9 record with a 2.96 ERA during his four years as a Cougar as he is now tied for twelfth place on the school’s career wins list. The former Mansfield Christian High School star also holds the program’s career saves mark with 13, and he has struck out 179 batters in just 158 1/3 innings. Barchus was the AMC North Division, NCCAA East Region, and NAIA Region IX Pitcher of the Year in 2003 after going 9-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 73 strikeouts. He was also named to the NCCAA All-American First Team and the NAIA All-American Second Team that year. In addition, he was named to the AMC First Team, the NCCAA East Region Team, the NCCAA All-American First Team, and the NAIA Honorable Mention All-American Team in 2002, and he played with Athletes in Action in the MINK League that summer.
"Jon is a quiet leader with great ability and character to lead,” said Veale. "He has persevered through an injury that cost him a whole season. His return this year indicates his resolve to finish his career on top. He has been great working with other pitchers on our staff, and he has had an outstanding college career.”
MVNU has won 12 straight games and 16 of the team’s last 17 contests as the team has started to peak as the Cougars head into the playoffs. Following the game against the Fighting Scots, who are ranked fourth in NCAA Division III, MVNU will host Seton Hill (Pa.) University on Thursday at noon in an AMC Tournament Best-of-Three series.