It’s not exactly accurate to say that all Tim Dunn does is win. The Trevecca Nazarene ace sure does not lose much, though.
The junior right-hander out of Bardstown, Ky. took a perfect 12-0 record into the Trojans’ TranSouth Conference tournament opener on Monday.
That not only made him the winningest pitcher in the NAIA during the regular season, it also extended to two seasons his mark of near-perfection. A year earlier he was a junior college All-America honoree when he went 12-1 for John A. Logan (Ill.) College.
That penchant for victory was central to the fact that he was named TranSouth Player of the Year on Monday. In so doing, he became the first pitcher in the 13-year history of the league to earn that award and the fifth Trevecca player overall to do so.
“It was surprising, especially knowing some of the hitters and the position players we have in this conference,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough the last two years that my teammates have had a lot of energy every time I’ve gone out there and they’ve played with a lot of energy behind me.”
Dunn, who signed with the program last July, wasted no time serving notice of what was to come. In his first start for Trevecca, back on Feb. 7, he struck out seven in five shutout innings against Embry-Riddle (Ala.), ranked No. 3 in NAIA at the time, as the Trojans notched their first victory of the season.
“I think the biggest part of the season was the start,” he said. “The way I did from my standpoint and the way the team did from a team standpoint against a team as good as Embry-Riddle just gave us a lot of confidence.”
With the ability to target a 90 mph fastball complemented by a hard breaking ball and a recently added changeup, he finished the regular season ranked first or second in the conference in wins, runs allowed per game, ERA (1.31), opponents’ batting average (.191) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.91). He also was among the NAIA’s top 10 in six major statistical categories.
All told, he had six complete games, including one shutout, in 13 starts, allowed 58 hits and struck out 76 in 88.1 innings. He was named the conference Pitcher of the Week twice, most recently when he limited Martin Methodist to two hits in eight innings on April 17.
“He is the most outstanding pitcher we’ve ever had at Trevecca,” coach Jonathan Burton said. “Every single time he takes the ball he gives his team a chance to win, and he competes like it’s his last game. You hope to have two or three like him, but there’s no doubt he was the most outstanding player in this conference this season.”
Even with him on the mound Monday, Trevecca, which finished second in the conference, dropped its tournament opener 3-1 to Union (33-17), host of the event. The Trojans (33-22) loaded the bases with one out in the ninth but failed to score. That sent them into the elimination round, where they will face Martin Methodist (20-23), noon Tuesday.
Dunn took a no-hitter into the seventh but then hit a batter, gave up two singles and a walk and allowed a run before he was replaced with the bases loaded and one out. Wesley Griggs replaced him and struck out the next two batters to end the threat and guarantee a no-decision for Dunn.
Griggs gave up two in the eighth and took the loss.
“It was probably one of the better outings I’ve seen (Dunn) have,” Burton said. “… The hitters were really confused most of the night.”
They did make him work, though. Dunn threw a total of 108 pitches, 72 of them strikes, and struck out five.
“I gave it all I had for the first six innings,” he said. “Then I hit a little bit of a wall, and I didn’t have the location I needed on my pitches.”
Still, he gave his team a chance to win … just as he did every other time he pitched.