Marvin Ridge Has Another Stellar Baseball Season

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Marvin Ridge’s bid for a rare three-peat fell short as the Mavericks season ended in the Class 3A semifinals when the Mavericks were swept 2-0 in a best two-out-of-three series by Crest High School.

The losses ended Marvin Ridge’s bid to win a third-straight Class 3A State Baseball Championship and signaled the end of a talented senior class that helped the Mavericks to the 2015 and 2016 Class 3A state championships.

Mennitt has arguably built Marvin Ridge into one of the top baseball programs in North Carolina regardless of classification. Mennitt has won 217 games and a remarkable 10-straight Southern Carolina Conference championships.

Over the past three seasons, Marvin Ridge is 84-18 and the Mavericks won the conference championship this season with a 13-2 record.

This year’s team will say goodbye to a talented senior class that was led by four players who have signed to play Division I college baseball next season.

“As a group over the last three years, 84-18, you would be hard pressed to find another team in the state that has that record,” said Marvin Ridge coach Mark Mennitt. “They accomplished a lot and we had great leadership out of that group.

“Ultimately, like I tell my kids every year, when I am dead and gone I am not going to be judged by that (record). I’m going to be judged with what they left with. Hopefully, they are better players and even better young men. Ultimately, that is what our goal is.”

Left-hander pitcher Jake Kuchmaner (East Carolina) was named the SCC Player of the Year while 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher Jason Cornatzer (Appalachian State) was named the SCC Pitcher of the Year.

“Those guys had phenomenal careers,” Mennitt said. “It was culmination of a lot of hard work that they put in.”

Kuchmaner ended his high school career with a 9-0 record with a 0.58 ERA this season, according to stats provided by Kuchmaner finished the season with 94 strikeouts. At the plate, Kuchmaner batted .284 with 27 RBIs, 10 doubles and two home runs.

Cornatzer was 8-3 on the mound with a 2.44 ERA. He finished with 82 strikeouts.

Outfielders Alex Leshock (Appalachian State) and Demarco Reaves (Coastal Carolina) were named to the All-SCC Team. Senior outfielder Corey Parr, junior pitcher Matthew Helms and junior infielder Stephen Ridge also were all named All-SCC.

“They put in the work and they reaped the rewards from it,” Mennitt said. “They made us a better team.”

Leshock finished the season with a .359 batting average that included 37 hits, 18 RBIs, four home runs, 30 runs scored and five doubles. Reaves batted .293 with 16 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

Parr finished with a .330 batting average while Ridge finished with a .342 average. Helms was 5-1 on the hill with a 1.87 ERA and 46 strikeouts.

“We obviously have talented kids,” Mennitt said. “But when you have kids on the same page and you have a common goal of worrying about the team rather than individuals, that is a key to success. Leadership is much more important than talent in a lot of ways in my opinion.

“We are going to ask a lot out of our returning players next year for sure.”

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at