Last week, we discussed how hard Tulane and North Carolina were hit by the Aug. 15 signing deadline. Green Wave coach Rick Jones advocated for an earlier signing deadline, which would at least give teams a month to look for substitute players in the post-transfer era.
Oral Roberts coach Rob Walton feels similarly. The Golden Eagles were utterly ravaged by the deadline, losing nine of the 11 drafted players they expected to show up on campus, either as returning players or recruits. Five of the players signed just before the deadline, and none signed for more than $50,000.
"I feel like I’ve been robbed," Walton said. "You work seven months recruiting, and it’s completely washed away in an hour. It’s brutal. [...] Continue Reading »
The Fritz Hamburg hiring wasn’t the only college baseball news of the day. Reigning national champion Fresno State also made a coaching move, promoting Pat Waer from volunteer assistant coach to full-time assistant, replacing Mike Mayne. Waer, who spent 11 years coaching at the high school and junior college levels before joining the Bulldogs, will coach first base, instruct the outfielders, and help with recruiting.
"He brings a work ethic and baseball knowledge that we could not replace,” Fresno coach Mike Batesole said in a release. "We could not be happier than we are to have him as a full-time Bulldog."
In other news, former Missouri righthander Aaron Crow won the 2008 Roger Clemens Award. He beat out San Diego’s Brian Matusz, Georgia’s Joshua Fields and Miami’s Chris Hernandez. Crow, the ninth overall pick, did not sign with the Nationals before the Aug. 15 signing deadline and will pitch for the independent Fort Worth Cats next spring, then re-enter the draft.
Finally, the Southeastern Conference and ESPN reached a television deal that will have a significant impact on baseball.
St. Joseph’s announced today that it has hired Fritz Hamburg to take over as its new head coach. Hamburg has spent the last eight years as associate head coach and pitching coach at Army, where he was named the American Baseball Coaches Association/Baseball America assistant coach of the year in 2007. Hamburg is one of the most respected coaches in the Northeast for his ability to identify and develop talent. He has a reputation as a gifted instructor of pitching, and getting the native of Doylestown, Pa., was a coup for the Hawks.
"My family and I are very excited to return to Philadelphia," Hamburg said. "I am certainly looking forward to the chance to work with a group of young men that is eager to succeed. I’m excited about helping this program grow and building on the foundation that was developed by my predecessors."
Hamburg replaces Lee Saverio, who had served as interim head coach in 2008.
Cornell has turned to an alumnus to replace Tom Ford as head coach. The Big Red hired Bill Walkenbach, who played for Cornell in the mid-1990s and served as an assistant under Ford from 2003-05. He’s spent the last three years as the head coach at Division III Franklin & Marshall (Pa.). Now he returns to his alma mater, where Ford will serve as his assistant. In late July, Ford stepped down from the head coaching job after 18 years and became the associate head coach.
“I appreciate the confidence that (director of athletics) Andy Noel and Coach Ford have shown in me by asking me to take over this program,” Walkenbach said. “I look forward to working with Coach Ford and the entire team as we begin this next chapter of Cornell baseball.”
Oklahoma State lefthander Andrew Oliver’s eligibility has been restored–for now.
An Ohio judge granted Oliver a temporary restraining order against the NCAA, which makes him eligible until a preliminary injunction hearing on Sept. 9. Oliver, who was suspended on May 31 for violating the NCAA’s "no agent" rule, is back in class at Oklahoma State today.
"It’s a huge campus and a big issue on that campus,” Oliver’s attorney, Richard Johnson, told the Oklahoman. "It’s very important that when school starts on Monday, the (people on campus) are not looking at Andy as a bad guy.”
We’ll have plenty more on Oliver in the coming days.
North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley, who left the Cape Cod League after batting .415/.586/.707 in 12 games for Harwich, had Tommy John surgery on his right (throwing) elbow, UNC has confirmed. Ackley, one of the top prospects for the 2009 draft, is expected to recover in time for the start of the season.
The surgery should remedy throwing woes that have plagued Ackley since he arrived at North Carolina. Last fall, he played the outfield during scrimmages and threw the ball back to the infield underhanded. His sore elbow limited him to first base this spring, and he tried to conserve his elbow strength whenever possible, even throwing very slow warmup tosses to other infielders in between innings. Ackley profiles as an outfielder in pro ball, so he’ll need to be able to throw effectively. This summer was the right time to get this surgery over with, and North Carolina must hope he makes a speedy recovery, because he is the anchor of the Tar Heels’ offense.
Behind a complete-game shutout from righthander Mike Ford (UC Santa Barbara), the Santa Barbara Foresters beat the Seattle Studs 2-0 on Friday to win the National Baseball Congress World Series. Center fielder Andre Miller (Loyola Marymount graduate) went 2-for-3 with a home run and an RBI triple for the Foresters, and Ford allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out nine. It was the second NBC title in three years for Santa Barbara. Outfielder Kevin Keyes (Texas) was named tournament MVP, while Bill Pintard was named manager of the tournament.
Fenway Park will not host the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament, as originally scheduled, because of an in-house scheduling error, according to Fenway Sports Group. The ACC will look for a new venue for the 2009 tournament, but Fenway will host the 2010 tournament instead.
"We sincerely apologize for the error that resulted in Fenway Park being unavailable to host the 2009 ACC Baseball Championship," Mike Dee, president of Fenway Sports Group, said in a statement. "The Atlantic Coast Conference and its baseball championship are very important to us and we are truly sorry for this situation."
So it looks like the arm-wrestling match between John Manuel and I to determine which Baseball America staffer gets to cover the tournament at Fenway will have to wait a year.
The Harwich Mariners won their first Cape Cod League championship in 21 years Thursday night, beating Cotuit 2-1 in the decisive third game of the championship series. Mark Fleury (North Carolina) delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single in the ninth inning against Kettleers closer Drew Storen (Stanford), turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win for Harwich.
“Coach (Steve Englert) told me the inning before to get ready, get loose,” Fleury said in a release. “I told him I was ready. The guy (Storen) was throwing hard, I was just trying to get the bat on the ball up in the air somewhere . . . it worked out.”
Joseph Sanders (Auburn) opened the inning with a leadoff triple against Cotuit starter Nick Hernandez (Tennessee), who had kept Harwich off the board for the first seven innings. Storen followed by hitting Brian Kemp (St. John’s) and walking Chase Leavitt (Arkansas) to set up Fleury’s heroics.
Harwich got a strong start from Chris Manno (Duke), who struck out nine while allowing just an unearned run on five hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings. Willie Kempf (Baylor) followed with 2 1/3 scoreless to pick up the win in relief.
Not all college baseball news this time of year revolves around signings and summer league results. Last week we wrote about meetings of the Rules Committee, Baseball Issues Committee and a subcommittee of the Academic Enhancement Working Group. The Division I Baseball Committee also met last week, and this week I caught up with NCAA managing director for baseball and football Dennis Poppe to get the scoop on the committee’s doings. Here are some tidbits: [...] Continue Reading »
Loyola Marymount announced Thursday that it has hired Jason Gill to replace Frank Cruz as head coach. Gill has spent the last four years as an assistant to George Horton at Cal State Fullerton and then Oregon, but he has LMU ties–he was an assistant there in 1999 and 2000, the last two years the Lions reached regionals.
"I’m excited to make my return to LMU, a program that has always held a special place in my heart," Gill said in a release. "The people in and around the Lion family have always been supportive, and I look forward to re-joining that group as the head baseball coach. I believe in the direction that (athletics director) Dr. (William) Husak is taking the program and the athletic department, and I feel that LMU as a whole is structured and ready to win from top to bottom. Upon reflecting on my personal experiences at the university, and talking to current and former coaches, it is extremely clear that LMU is destined for great things. The bottom line is it is a great time to be a Lion." [...] Continue Reading »
Thomasville became the first team to win three consecutive Coastal Plain League championships this weekend, beating Florence 7-4 in the final game of the Petitt Cup tournament championships. A pair of teammates from The Citadel combined to score the eventual game-winning run in the fifth, as Richard Jones singled home Chris McGuiness from second to break a 4-4 tie. A third Bulldog, outfielder Sonny Meade, put the game out of reach with a two-run homer an inning later. Patrick Dean (Boston College) picked up the win for the HiToms, working 2 2/3 innings of three-hit relief.
Thomasville was one of the most talented teams in the league (as our CPL top prospects list will reflect), and its talent won out. We’ll have recaps and top prospects lists from 19 summer leagues later this month.
The Harwich Mariners returned to the Cape Cod League championship series for the first time in 11 years in dramatic fashion. Harwich needed 18 innings to pull out a 1-0 win over Orleans on Sunday, clinching a trip to the finals against the winner of tonight’s decisive third game between Falmouth and Cotuit.
Harwich outfielder Brian Kemp (St. John’s) scored the winning run on a dropped fly ball by Angelo Songco (Loyola Marymount) in the bottom of the 18th. That ended a marathon that featured a combined 470 pitches and 20 runners left on base. Harwich got nine innings of five-hit ball from starter Billy Bullock (Florida), before Steve Kalush (Santa Clara) followed with 5 2/3 innings of stellar work. Orleans got its own heroic pitching efforts in defeat, as starter Matt Thomson (San Diego) struck out eight while allowing just three hits over 7 2/3, Adam Wilk (Long Beach State) followed with 3 2/3 strong innings of relief, and Alex Hassan (Duke) worked the final 6 2/3 after playing the first 11 innings in center field.
If Falmouth wins tonight, Harwich will host the first game of the best-of-three finals on Tuesday. If Cotuit wins, the Kettleers will host. Falmouth forced a decisive third game against Cotuit with a 6-3 win Sunday behind 5 2/3 innings of one-hit work from starter Chris Gloor (Quinnipiac).
Hofstra finally named a replacement for head coach Chris Dotolo, who resigned in June. The Pride announced today it has hired Patrick Anderson as its new coach. Anderson served three years as an assistant at Hofstra from 1998-2001 and has spent the last eight years as a minor league hitting and catching instructor in the Royals system. The move makes plenty of sense for Anderson on a personal level also–he is married to Hofstra softball associate head coach Larissa Anderson and lives in nearby Levittown, N.Y.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to take over a program that I am quite familiar with," Anderson said in a release. "Coming home and being able to coach at a school like Hofstra means a great deal to me. I am ecstatic to be a part of the Hofstra family once again."
Eastern Michigan has hired Jay Alexander as its new head coach, replacing Jake Boss, who left earlier this summer to take over the Michigan State program. Alexander spent the last six seasons as the head coach at Wayne State (Mich.), where he led the Warriors to a school-record 36 wins and a conference title in 2008. The 36-year-old was a standout shortstop and center fielder for Wayne State from 1993-96 before joining the Warriors as an assistant under Rod George. Alexander became the head coach when George died in 2002.
“When we started the process of searching for a new head baseball coach, the name Jay Alexander was at the top of our list,” EMU director of athletics Dr. Derrick Gragg said in a statement. “Coach Alexander had tremendous support from the entire baseball community and we are excited that he will be here to continue the strong legacy of success our baseball program has built under previous head coaches Ron Oestrike, Roger Coryell, and Jake Boss.”
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