Morton College freshman baseball player Miguel Cantu hit .442 with a 1.339 OPS this season and set Panther season records in home runs (17), RBI (87) and hits (95). Photo courtesy of Morton College
Morton College’s Miguel Cantu rakes way into record book
By Mike Walsh
It had been a while since a Morton College baseball players claimed the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference MVP Award.
It had been even longer since a Panther earned All-American status.
The efforts of freshman first baseman Miguel Cantu this season ended both droughts. Cantu parlayed an impressive season into a league MVP award and a spot on the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American Division II Third Team. The MVP is the first in 28 years for a Morton player; the All-American honor is the first in program history.
Cantu, of Chicago, was also named to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-America Third Team.
In 59 games for the Panthers, the St. Rita graduate hit .442 with home runs (17), RBI (87) and hits (95). The latter three are all Morton season records. He added 68 runs, 25 doubles, four tripled, a .506 OBP and an .833 slugging percentage.
“He’s a hard worker who is very detail-oriented,” Morton head coach Christopher Wido stated on Morton’s website. “He’s very calculated in his training, preparing for games and how he goes about practice. He’s very smart and has a high baseball IQ. He picks up on things extremely quickly.”
Cantu tallied 32 multi-hit games and 28 multi-RBI contests. He was held hitless in 10 games while putting together hitting streaks of 16 and 14 games. During a four-game stretch in March, he drove in 15 runs, and over a later five-game span had 18 RBI.
His best month of the season was April, when he batted .522 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI over 26 games. During one seven-game stretch that month he hit .571 with 16 RBI.
Cantu concluded his campaign third in the nation in RBI and in the top five in hits, doubles and total bases.
Rob Marinec was one of two North Central College athletes named to the 2023 American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-Region 8 Third Team.
Marinec, a Shepard graduate, is a five-time All-Region honoree and a four-time ABCA All-Region selection. The senior first baseman played in 27 games this season despite an injury. Marinec hit .424 with 30 runs, 29 RBI, 20 walks, 13 doubles, five home runs and two triples in 99 at-bats.
Among active Division III players, he is top five in career RBI (240), home runs (39), total bases (475) and walks (120). His RBI total ranks seventh all-time in Division III.
In his time at North Central, Marinec set program career records in RBI, hits, runs, total bases, doubles and sacrifice flies, and he ranks in the top five in slugging (.656), triples (15), home runs and walks.
Utility player/pitcher Justin Rios earned a spot on the 2023 All-CCIW Second Team. Rios, a St. Laurence alum, is a three-time All-CCIW honoree.
This season, he batted .333 with 21 hits, 18 RBI, 17 runs, 12 walks and three doubles. On the mound, he was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and struck out six in nine innings of work.
North Central finished the season 27-14, its ninth straight season with 25 or more wins. The Cardinals were 12-6 in the CCIW.
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