2019 Frontier League Pitcher of the Year resigns with Southern Illinois for 2021 season
Marion, IL (April 20, 2021) – The Southern Illinois Miners announce that veteran right-handed starting pitcher and 2019 Frontier League Pitcher of the Year Chase Cunningham has re-signed with the club for the upcoming 2021 season.
The Bristol, Tennessee native is coming off a stellar campaign in 2019 as the Miners’ ace, going 10-5 with a 3.23 ERA over 22 games (21 starts), along with 132 strikeouts in 136 2/3 innings pitched against just 40 walks and 116 hits allowed. He led the Frontier League in wins and innings pitched while finishing second by one in strikeouts, becoming the fifth Southern Illinois hurler in the franchise’s 13-season existence to win the Brian Tollberg Award as the league’s Pitcher of the Year.
Cunningham’s 136 2/3 innings tossed in 2019 were a Miners single-season record, as he pitched seven or more innings in a game 12 times over his 21 starts. His 132 strikeouts were also the second-most in a single season in franchise history behind only Frontier League Hall-of-Famer Ryan Bird’s total of 152 in 2008.
“I am so excited to have Chase back in a Miners uniform this season,” manager Mike Pinto said. “He had one of the best performances by a pitcher in our history in 2019, but he brings so much more to us- professionalism, character, preparation, tremendous work ethic, and a deep desire to compete. Those are things our young pitchers see and can learn from to make themselves and our team better.”
The durable starter was initially acquired in a trade in the previous off-season from the Washington Wild Things, with whom he pitched three seasons from 2016-18 while setting franchise records for games started and innings pitched. He also saw time on the mound with Lincoln in the American Association after finishing his college career at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Entering the 2021 campaign, Cunningham ranks as one of the most-prolific pitchers in the history of the Frontier League. The right-hander is currently third all-time in career starts (80), and fourth all-time in innings pitched (483 2/3) and wins (34), while also placing inside the league’s top 25 in career strikeouts (315).