WILLIAMSBURG — Having one of the longest-standing programs at Cumberlands, the UC baseball team has entered its seventh decade of existence and has been one of the Patriots' best teams over the past three seasons. The Patriots compiled a 342-181 record over the last decade, including seven seasons of at least 30 wins and notching 40+ wins in three consecutive seasons. UC has captured two Mid-South Conference regular-season titles, an MSC tournament title, and three NAIA opening round appearances over the past decade and has transformed into a perennial power in both the MSC and the NAIA.
In addition to the team’s success, the Patriots have recorded three NAIA All-Americans, two MSC Pitchers of the Year, two MSC Freshman of the Year, two MSC Coach of the Year, 14 MSC Gold Glove winners, and 58 MSC All-Conference selections. With all of these accomplishments, the one player that represents the Patriot baseball team on UC’S All-Decade Team is pitcher Zach Hurley.
Hurley is one of the most decorated players in program history and currently holds the Patriots program career record for wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. He also is ranked in the five in career appearances and strikeouts in a single-season during his four-year Patriot career. Hurley made an impact from the moment he stepped on the mound as he was an NAIA All-American honorable mention, MSC Pitcher of the Year in 2019, a two-time MSC First Team All-Conference selection, a CoSIDA Academic All-America and the 2019 MSC Champion of Character. For his career, the London, KY native, posted a 28-8 record with 283 strikeouts, a 3.49 ERA, 11 complete games, and six shutouts.
In his freshman campaign, Hurley pitched in 11 games, starting six of them and recorded a 2-3 record with 28 strikeouts. Hurley recorded his first career win on February 26, 2016, when he tossed five innings allowing one earned run against Wright State-Lake. He followed that up with his best performance of the season where he went seven innings scattering five hits and two unearned runs with five strikeouts to help the Patriots take the series over 19th-ranked Campbellsville. Later that season, the London, KY native recorded his first career save as he tossed two scoreless innings as Cumberlands defeated St. Catharine 5-3 in the series opener, which they eventually swept.
The 2017 season was a turning point for the Patriots program as they notched their first 40+ win season of the decade going 43-17. Hurley was a key part of UC’s success has he went 9-2 with a save on the year in 17 appearances, and 73 strikeouts, and a 4.33 ERA. The sophomore opened the season winning each of his first three games, including hurling seven innings of shutouts baseball in the 4-0 win over Mount Mercy. Hurley found his groove midway through the season as he went 14.1 innings over a five-game span without allowing an earned run and posted a 2-0 record with a save during that stretch. In the opening round of the MSC Tournament, Hurley pitched 5.2 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and striking out four to help the Patriots win the series over Shawnee State and advance to Bowling Green. In the championship game of the tournament, Hurley pitched 7.2 innings in relief, scattering nine hits, four runs, and 13 strikeouts to collect the win in UC’s first MSC Tournament Championship since 2004. The London, KY native closed out his season by pitching four innings and getting the win as the Patriots defeated St. Thomas 9-7 in the NAIA Opening Round.
Hurley's strong performance continued into the 2018 season, where he went 9-0 with a 2.48 ERA 98 strikeouts and pitched five complete games with four shutouts. After opening the season with an inning of relief, the junior went on to win his first three starts, notching 20 strikeouts and two complete games in the process. Hurley’s dominance continued throughout the season as he averaged 6.8 strikeouts per outing over his next five starts going 3-0. For as strong as the junior was he saved some of the best performances for April and May as he recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts against Cumberland and 10 strikeouts in a complete-game win over Pikeville to help the Patriots capture the Mid-South Conference regular-season championship its fourth title in program history. For the second straight season, the London, KY native excelled in the postseason pitching 8.2 innings scattering 10 hits, a run, and eight strikeouts in Cumberlands 11-1 win over Georgetown in the MSC Tournament to help UC earn a bid to host an NAIA Opening Round. In the opening round, Hurley tossed 7.0 innings with nine punch outs to get the win in Cumberlands 18-4 victory over Marian. For his efforts on the season, Hurley was named an MSC First Team All-Conference selection and finished the year ranked second in the conference in strikeouts and third in ERA.
Hurley came into his senior year with high expectations and didn’t disappoint as he went 8-3 with 84 strikeouts, five complete games, and a 2.53 ERA. The ace of the Patriot staff tallied at least seven strikeouts in 8 of his 12 starts on the season and limited opponents to two runs or fewer nine times. Hurley won seven straight decisions from the middle of February to the middle of April capped off by a complete game shutout capped off by a complete-game shutout in the series opener against Pikeville. The senior struck out nine batters over the seven-inning game. Hurley closed out the regular season with a seven strikeout performance against Cumberland. For his efforts in the regular season, Hurley was collected multiple honors including becoming the fourth Patriot pitcher to be named the MSC Pitcher of the Year, the second Patriot to be named the MSC Champion of Character, and was named to First Team All-Conference Team. His performance helped Cumberlands capture consecutive MSC regular-season titles and earn the top-seed in the NAIA Opening Round. In the opening round, Hurley pitched a gem going the distance for a complete game win scattering four hits, one run, and nine strikeouts in 10-1 win over Mobile. That win was his 28th career win, which put him in a four-way tie for the program career lead. Hurley finished the year ranked sixth in the NAIA in innings pitched per game while being ranked second in the MSC in ERA and strikeouts. Hurley was named an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention and was a CoSIDA Academic All-America selection.
Hurley graduated from UC in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with a minor in Psychology. Upon graduation, Hurley remained at UC where is in his first year of the Physician Assistant program. He got married to his wife Mary in October and looks forward to watching Patriot baseball next season.
The UC All-Decade Team was determined based on stats, awards & honors received, and significance to the program in addition to input for members of the UC Athletic Department. It will include one representative from every sport and be comprised of 29 student-athletes. The all-decade team looked at everything from the 2010-2011 season through the 2019-2020 season.