By Kyle Bennett
A more famous saying in the football world is "defense wins championships", but this saying also holds true for the Cumberland County College Dukes baseball team as Chris Salvey and Marco Rios, two starters on the Region XIX championship team, were named to the NJCAA Division III Rawlings Gold Glove Team on Wednesday. This is the first time either player has won the award.
Salvey started in 98-percent of the team's games and Rios was present for 96-percent. The Dukes finished the 2017 season with 55 wins, which is a new school record.
Salvey, a Folcroft, PA native and Cardinal O'Hara high school graduate, finished the season with a .986 fielding percentage, having only committed five errors on the season at first base.
"(Chris) Salvey led the country in home runs, but his improvement defensively is what I was most impressed with," said Dukes Head Coach Keith Gorman, "he worked hard on his pick game, his feet, and his arm, which combining all of those factors makes him just as talented on the defensive side of the diamond as he is at the plate".
Rios, a Buena, NJ native and Buena Regional High School graduate, capped his season off with a .976 fielding percentage, committing only six errors on the year while holding down the fort at second base. Both percentages were second and third best on the team respectively.
"He is one of the best defensive middle infielders I have been around," said Gorman on his second baseman, "he plays with total confidence and energy, but his attitude and work ethic are what make him special".
The two sophomore starters also combined to turn 57 double plays between them. Rios tallied team high 147 assists on the season, while Salvey contributed 349 put outs, mostly being on the receiving end of the double play balls.
Both Dukes standouts will be attending Lincoln Memorial University, a Division II private college in Harrogate, Tennessee, and members of the South Atlantic Conference this coming fall as transfer juniors.
The Dukes finished their season with a .944 team fielding percentage and only committing 88 errors in 63 games on their way to the Regional title and a third-place finish in the Division III College World Series.
Salvey and Rios join 2014 graduate Jordan Glover, who was also the Spalding Defensive Player of the Year, as recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove awards for the Dukes Baseball Program.