FREELAND, Mich.--The 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion Adrian College baseball team is well represented in the conference's year-end awards announced on Tuesday. Junior Gunner Rainey (Adrian, Mich./Madison High School) is the MIAA Player of the Year while freshman Maxwell Denny (South Lyon High School) is the MIAA Pitcher of the Year to headline eight Bulldogs on the all-conference first and second teams. Adrian led the way with the total picks as well as seven student-athletes named to the first team alone.
Rainey, who started the previous two years in the outfield and was 2018 All-MIAA First Team, is having a terrific offensive year as a utility. He enters the postseason on a 15-game hitting streak that has made his batting average rise to a MIAA-best .442. He ranks second with 46 runs batted in. His career year also includes MIAA top rankings for hits (68) and doubles (18) while being third with a .580 on-base percentage and fourth at .558 slugging. The social studies major was a D3baseball.com Team of the Week honoree for March 5. Rainey is the Bulldogs' active leader with 183 career hits, which ranks in seventh place on the AC all-time chart.
Denny is the ace of the staff with MIAA-leading figures of 9-0 won-lost record and 1.43 earned-run average, tying the school's single-season victories by a freshman benchmark. He also has 49 strikeouts in 50.1 innings of work. The psychology major was a March 11 MIAA Pitcher of the Week recipient. Nationally, Denny is fifth in wins and 18th in ERA. He won his first two decisions in relief appearances, and since then has gone 7-0 in seven starts while allowing just seven earned runs.
Joining Denny and Rainey on the all-conference first team are teammates senior third baseman Dugan Darnell (Northville High School), senior outfielder Zack Zschering (Grosse Point, Mich./De La Salle HS), junior first baseman Brady Wood (Frankenmuth HS), sophomore shortstop Thomas Miller (Saline High School), sophomore pitcher Mo Hanley (Tampa, Fla./Chamberlain HS). In addition, sophomore outfielder Brandon Cooper (Ann Arbor, Mich./Ann Arbor Huron HS) is second-team All-MIAA.
Like many of his teammates, Darnell is having a career year offensively--and also making a mark on the mound for the first time in his collegiate career. He has notched personal records of 38 runs scored, 43 hits, 10 doubles, four home runs, 39 RBI, 22 walks and .523 slugging while batting .326 and getting on base 47.9 percent of the time. The reigning MIAA Player of the Week has been hit by a pitch 16 times--second most in school history--to top the conference. In addition, the marketing major in his debut season pitching to the tune of a league-best five saves, a .040 opponents' batting average, 0.56 ERA and whopping 30 strikeouts in 16.0 innings.
Wood repeats on the first-team all-conference, moving over from second base for this season. The business major has produced a .348/.433/.493 slashline and he has a third-leading 43 RBI--nine more than his previous career high--in the conference. The March 11 MIAA Player of the Week also has posted a .995 fielding percentage for seventh in the conference, with just one error in 189 total chances. Wood has 110 career hits going into the postseason.
Zschering is batting .377 which is fourth in the MIAA. He also has personal highs of .505 on-base percentage, which is first in the conference, and .466 slugging. He also is first in runs scored (53) and triples (3), second in walks (30), third in hits (55), fifth in stolen bases (20) and 10th in total bases (68). Like Darnell, Rainey and Wood, the marketing major has 100 career hits under his belt with 114. Zschering also has 24 RBI and seven doubles to add to his career numbers in virtually every offensive category from his leadoff spot.
Miller, a two-time MIAA Player of the Week (April 8-15), has made an immediate impact in the Adrian lineup after transferring from NCAA Division I Oakland University after his freshman year. Miller paces the MIAA with 47 RBI, 90 total bases, is second with a .406 batting average, 63 hits and 48 runs scored, third with a .581 slugging percentage and eighth with a .461 on-base rate. The sports management major leads the Bulldogs with four home runs, which is fifth in the conference. During a 13-game hitting streak, he set a MIAA-record by going 6-for-6 in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Olivet on April 7.
Twice named MIAA Pitcher of the Week on April 8 and April 29, Hanley has emerged as an important starter in the rotation after beginning his Bulldogs career as a reliever. He has compiled career bests (with MIAA rankings in parentheses) of 1.91 ERA (2nd), 59 strikeouts (2nd), 11.22 strikeouts per 9 innings (1st), .147 opponents' batting average (4th) and 47.1 innings (12th). The marketing major also is 4-0 going into the MIAA playoffs.
Cooper has produced at the plate in his first season as a starter, slashing .370/.441/.551. The March 25 MIAA Player of the Week honoree has been listed among the top-10 hitters in the conference for much of the season, and put together a 12-game hit streak in the month of March. The exercise science major is tied for the MIAA lead with three triples and his three home runs are ranked 10th. He's also listed in the MIAA top-10 with 70 total bases for third-most among Bulldogs.
Voted by the league's eight head coaches as the top position player and pitcher, Rainey and Denny mark the ninth time since 2006 that the Bulldogs have earned both MVP awards in the same season.
All told, Adrian has produced 15 MVP hitters and 11 MVP pitchers in the MIAA postseason awards.
Adrian will host the 2019 MIAA Tournament this week, starting with Game 1 against Alma College at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Nicolay Field.
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