DOBSON — Finishing second in the nation in home runs and putting up eye-popping offensive numbers, Surry Community College’s Michael Roberts led the way among 10 Knights receiving All-Region X baseball honors.
A freshman first baseman from Surry Central High School, Roberts has been named Region X Player of the Year after a stellar campaign for SCC. At the plate, the 6-1, 210-pound rookie was a terror, finishing second in all of NJCAA with 14 home runs and first nationally in home runs per at bat. His whopping .875 slugging percentage was good for fourth best in the country and Roberts’ .458 batting average was the 12th highest in America. He also was among the nation’s leaders in RBIs with 47.
“Michael was the best hitter in the conference and he was the All-Defensive Team first baseman. He could do both, play offense and defense,” Surry head coach Tim Collins said. “He has also been invited to the PowerStroke Home Run Derby at Miami Marlins Stadium. He is one of 39 to be invited in Division II and Division III categories.”
Roberts, who was named NJCAA Division III Player of the Week in early April, put up huge power numbers at the plate despite never hitting more than four homers in a season in high school.
“He has always had a lot of power. He’s worked at it a lot. In high school he pulled the ball a lot. Here in college, we and Coach (Roy) Vernon continued to work with hitting the off-speed pitch and hitting the other way. Probably half his homers were to the opposite field or centerfield and he became a more dangerous hitter because he could hit to all fields. He will have an opportunity to go to a lot of different places before it is all said and done.”
Roberts teamed with Hunter Travis to provide a powerful middle of the lineup in 2018 for the Knights, who captured the Region X regular season championship for the second consecutive season. Travis, from South Rowan High, joined Roberts on the All-Region X First Team as an infielder, belting 10 home runs and finishing with 41 RBIs as a shortstop. Both were the second-highest for Surry, who put together another stellar season with a 25-16 record.
“Hunter was second in the league in home runs and third in the league in RBIs right behind Michael. They hit in the three and four spots and combined for 24 home runs and 88 RBIs, which made us pretty deadly in the middle,” Collins said. “He has a lot of options. Southern Wesleyan has made him a big offer and he’s still getting phone calls from other schools.”
Surry’s Brady Drennen and Nolan Stanley both earned spots on the All-Region X squad as outfielders. Drennen, a freshman from North Lincoln, made the first team as a centerfielder. His 27 RBI were the fourth-most for Surry and he hit .369 at the plate. He really turned up his game in league play, batting .454 against Region X teams.
“Due to injuries and other situations, Brady had to play centerfield for us. He is really more of a corner outfielder than a centerfielder, but he did a great job for us,” Collins said. “He’s not bad on the mound either, but we couldn’t afford to take him out of centerfield.”
A sophomore rightfielder from North Surry, Stanley earned second-team All-Region X honors. Stanley hit .350 for the season and finished third on the team with three home runs and 30 RBIs.
“Nolan hit in the five hole for us and hit .375. He was also first-team all-defensive because he didn’t make an error all year in the outfield,” Collins said.
A freshman from Nations Ford High School, Greg Izzo was named to the All-Region X First Team as a catcher. With a rare blend of speed and athleticism for a catcher, Izzo batted second in the lineup for the Knights, hitting .307 while driving in 10 runs. He also scored 23 runs and stole four bases.
“We had two good catchers and both were freshmen that were good enough to be all-region,” Collins said, also praising Matt Martir from Elkin. “Greg was very good defensively and quick behind the plate. He hit in the two hole and hit over .300 for us. He is an exceptionally good defensive catcher that was very athletic. He could run well, bunt, and hit the ball the other way.”
SCC’s pitching staff was honored with three of the six pitchers on the All-Region X team, including first teamers Aaron Mitchell and Mitchell Keener. Mitchell, who earned NJCAA Division III Pitcher of the Week honors in March, led the Knights with a 6-1 record on the mound, including a 5-1 mark in region play. He struck out 64 and walked just 19 while compiling a 3.31 ERA.
“Aaron was probably the most improved player we had from spring to fall,” Collins said. “He is a freshman and will be our number one pitcher coming back next season.”
A sophomore transfer from Catawba Valley Community College, Keener also made the first team after going 5-0 on the mound with a 3.19 ERA. He whiffed 47 batters while walking 18 in 42.1 innings of work.
“He is an exceptionally hard worker. He came to us from Catawba and pitched really well,” Collins said. “He also has several offers from four-year schools.”
Freshman Brice Hamrick made the all-region second team as a pitcher after picking up four saves with a team-best 2.01 ERA. He fanned 35 batters in 31.1 innings of work.
“He came in at Christmas so he didn’t have a fall with us. He had some work to do, but he ended up being our closer and he did a real good job,” Collins said. “He works extremely hard.”
Tyler Lundy, a sophomore from Grayson County High School in Virginia, came into the season as Surry’s number one pitcher. Due to injuries, he moved to designated hitter, where he earned first-team all-region honors after batting .328 with three home runs and 24 RBIs.
“Tyler was our number one pitcher to start the season and his arm just went dead. He couldn’t throw. It didn’t hurt, but he just didn’t have anything,” Collins said. “He did pitch in the tournament and got a win for us but it was a struggle. He was a good hitter in high school, so we moved him to DH because he wanted to try to help us anyway he could.”
Ethan Danley, a freshman from Surry Central, earned first-team all-defensive honors at second base, where he finished the season with a .983 fielding percentage.
“He only made four errors all season in 119 attempts, which is unheard of,” Collins said. “It is unbelievable how good of a defensive player he was for us. He also hit leadoff and did a good job. We have seven freshmen, a lot of good recruits coming in, and a couple of transfers coming, so we are very much looking forward to next year.”