South Carolina coach Ray Tanner will take over as the school's athletic director, and associate head coach Chad Holbrook will be elevated to head coach. Baseball America has confirmed local media reports that Tanner will be announced as AD on Friday, while Holbrook's announcement is scheduled for Monday.
A strong case can be made that Tanner is the premier coach of his generation, and he is leaving the dugout at the top of his profession. Tanner led the Gamecocks to the College World Series Finals in each of the last three years, taking home the 2010 and '11 national titles and finishing as runner-up this year. That stretch established records with 22 consecutive NCAA tournament wins and 12 straight CWS wins.
In 16 seasons at South Carolina, Tanner led the Gamecocks to six College World Series, three SEC championships, six SEC Eastern Division titles and 13 straight regionals. South Carolina has also won 40 or more games in each of the last 13 years, and is one of just two schools in the nation to make at least 10 super regionals during that stretch.
Tanner is 738-316 in his career at South Carolina, and his .700 winning percentage is second-highest all-time among SEC coaches. In 25 seasons as a head coach (including nine seasons at his alma mater, North Carolina State), Tanner is 1,033-489-3 (.699). [...] Continue Reading »
Mike Zunino's trophy case continued to fill up on Friday, as he added the Golden Spikes Award to his Baseball America College Player of the Year Award and his Dick Howser Trophy. The Florida catcher received the Golden Spikes Award from USA Baseball in a live broadcast on MLB Network, beating out fellow finalists Carlos Rodon of N.C. State and Mark Appel of Stanford.
Zunino, who signed with the Mariners for $4 million as the No. 3 overall pick, hit .322/.394/.669 with 19 homers, 28 doubles and 67 RBIs as a junior for the Gators this spring. And he did it while starting 62 games behind the plate, providing strong defense and great leadership.
Zunino is just the third full-time catcher to win the GSA, joining future big league stars Jason Varitek and Buster Posey.
"I'm thrilled. Just be be in the same category as (the previous winners), and to be in the same presence as Mark Appel and Carlos Rodon, it's just a privilege to be here," Zunino said on the MLB Network broadcast.
The last two days have brought a pair of coaching hires as well as the week's second notable coaching retirement. Appalachian State hired former Oklahoma State assistant Billy Jones as its head coach, while Morehead State hired Louisburg (N.C.) head coach Mike McGuire. And Middle Tennessee State coach Steve Peterson retired after 25 years.
Jones has long been considered a standout recruiter and a top up-and-coming head coach prospect in college baseball circles. He has 18 years of coaching experience, including the last eight as Oklahoma State's recruiting coordinator, preceded by three years on the staff at North Carolina State. In Stillwater, he coached the hitters and helped lead the Cowboys to eight straight winning seasons, six regionals, a super regional and a Big 12 tournament title. His work on the recruiting trail helped land 31 players who went on to be drafted. His Division I coaching career began with two seasons at Oregon State in 1999-2000, followed by one year at Arizona State. He also has head coaching experience at Green River (Wash.) CC in 1997-98.
Jones replaces Chris Pollard, who left for the head job at Duke after leading ASU to its first regional this spring. [...] Continue Reading »
San Jose State coach Sam Piraro announced his retirement today after 25 years as the Spartans' head coach. Associate head coach Mark O'Brien, who played for Piraro in 1991-92 and joined Piraro's staff last year after 10 seasons as the head coach at Santa Clara, was elevated to interim head coach while the school conducts a national search.
Piraro, the winningest coach in school history, went 806-632-6 at San Jose State, leading the Spartans to 18 winning seasons, two regionals (2000 and '02) and a trip to the 2000 College World Series. A San Jose native who was an infielder at San Jose State in 1971-72, Piraro began his coaching career in 1974 as SJSU's junior varsity coach. He spent seven seasons at Mission (Calif.) CC before becoming the Spartans' head coach. More than 50 of his former players are baseball coaches at the high school, community college or four-year college levels.
"I have been extremely honors to be the San Jose State University head baseball coach for the past 25 years," Piraro said in a release. "I have been blessed by being associated with wonderful young men and loyal assistant coaches. I have established a lifetime of friendships along the way."
Brigham Young has named alumnus Mike Littlewood, the head coach at Division II Dixie (Utah) State, as its new head coach, replacing Vance Law.
Littlewood, whose son Marcus was a 2010 second-round pick of the Seattle Mariners, posted a .702 winning percentage in 16 seasons at Dixie State, as the program moved up from junior college to NCAA Division II. Dixie State won the 2004 NJCAA World Series under his guidance.
Littlewood played third base at BYU from 1985-88 and was an all-Western Athletic Conference choice in 1988. He takes over a Cougars program that has moved into the West Coast Conference for all sports while BYU football plays as an independent. Brigham Young has not earned a spot in the NCAA tournament since 2002.
Michigan has hired Erik Bakich away from Maryland to be its new baseball coach, replacing the fired Rich Maloney. A day later, Maryland promoted assistant Eric Milton to interim head coach.
The Wolverines tried to hire Scott Stricklin away from Kent State but Stricklin decided to stay at his alma mater. The Wolverines then turned their attention to Bakich, a former East Carolina outfielder and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt for seven years. His three seasons with the Terrapins program were his first as a head coach.
Bakich's Maryland teams got progressively better, finishing 32-24 this season with a club that won a series at UCLA and cracked BA's Top 25 rankings for the first time ever. However, the Terrapins went 10-20 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, failing to make regionals, and were just 20-70 in the league in Bakich's tenure, and 70-98 overall. [...] Continue Reading »
As expected, Ball State welcomed Rich Maloney back to Muncie on Thursday. Maloney posted a 256-144-1 record as Ball State's head coach from 1996-2002, then spent the next 10 seasons at Michigan. Now he heads back to Ball State to reclaim his old job, replacing Alex Marconi, who announced his resignation after completing his second season this spring.
"We are extremely excited to welcome Rich Maloney back to the Ball State family and the Muncie community," athletic director Bill Scholl said in a release. "He was an integral part of continuing the outstanding tradition of Ball State baseball in his previous tenure with the Cardinals, and we are looking forward to his return."
Maloney led the Cardinals to their only two 40-win seasons in 1997 and '99. Under his leadership, Ball State won the Mid-American Conference West Division title four times, and won the MAC's regular-season title twice, though it did not break through to regionals until 2006. Maloney also helped Bryan Bullington become the No. 1 overall pick in 2002.
Certainly, this is an impactful hire for Ball State, and it's a nice landing place for Maloney after his Michigan tenure came to a close.
Three Division I programs named new head coaches in the past few days, headlined by Duke's hiring of Chris Pollard away from Appalachian State on Thursday. On Wednesday, Northwestern State hired Mississippi State assistant Lane Burroughs as its head coach, and Oral Roberts elevated Ryan Folmar from assistant to head coach.
Pollard became a hot commodity in coaching circles after guiding Appalachian State to a school-record 41 wins and its first regional since 1986 this spring, the Mountaineers' sixth consecutive 30-win season. It was a remarkable transformation for a program that posted back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2004 and '05. He replaces Sean McNally, who resigned last month after seven seasons.
"Chris Pollard represents a seasoned, highly successful coach, mentor and leader," Duke director of athletics Kevin White said in a release. "His track record speaks volumes about his dramatic impact on the Appalachian State baseball program. Of course, with his background as a student-athlete, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Davidson, coupled with his experience as a head coach, we believe that he represents an ideal fit at Duke University." [...] Continue Reading »
The College World Series field is set, as South Carolina, Kent State and Arkansas won their super regionals Monday to join Florida, Florida State, Stony Brook, Arizona and UCLA in Omaha. We recapped Monday's action elsewhere on the College Blog, so let's take some time to examine this fascinating CWS field.
The big story is the pair of Northern teams crashing the party. No team from Ohio or further Northeast has been to Omaha since Maine in 1986, and this year's field will include two such teams. Kent State is the first team from the Buckeye State to reach Omaha since Ohio University in 1970, and the first Mid-American Conference team to make it since Eastern Michigan in 1976. Stony Brook is the first team from the Empire State to make it since St. John's in 1980.
The warmest winter and spring that many Northerners can remember certainly made a difference this year, allowing cold-weather teams to practice outside in February—a prospect that is ordinarily impossible. The weather certainly contributed to the great Northern baseball renaissance of 2012, which also included a trip to super regionals by St. John's and a banner season for Purdue, which hosted a regional.
But attributing the success of the Northern teams to the weather is a major oversimplification.
"I think it shows that parity in college baseball does exist," Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. "And that's something that we talked about a few years ago as coaches, with the scholarships, with the roster limits, with all those things that are put into play—we wanted this to be a national game. Now, I don't know how many coaches in the Southeast and the West actually wanted that to happen, but that's what's happening. You're seeing players that are spread out a little more evenly. [...] Continue Reading »
South Carolina, Kent State and Arkansas completed the College World Series field by winning their super regionals Monday. The exciting final day of the super regional round featured a pair of walk-off wins in the night games. Here's a quick recap:
Columbia Super Regional
The Gamecocks completed a dominating two-game sweep of Oklahoma with a 5-1 win Monday, in the makeup of a game that was pushed back from Sunday by rain. Colby Holmes (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) was strong in a no-decision for the Gamecocks, and three relievers joined him in a combined three-hitter, capped by a vintage performance from closer Matt Price (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K). Jonathan Gray (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 9 K) held the Gamecocks scoreless through six, but an error and a wild pitch helped South Carolina score two runs in the seventh against Steven Okert. The Gamecocks extended the lead with three more in the eighth, highlighted by Chase Vergason's two-run double.
South Carolina heads to Omaha riding an unfathomable 21-game winning streak in NCAA tournament action, including 11 straight in Omaha. The two-time defending national champions have won 24 consecutive postseason games at home. [...] Continue Reading »
Oklahoma State made another splash Monday, hiring Rob Walton away from Oral Roberts to serve as pitching coach under Josh Holliday.
This move represents the best of all worlds for the Cowboys, as Walton and Holliday were regarded as two of the top candidates for the head coaching job. To land both on the same coaching staff is a huge coup for OSU.
Walton has spent the last nine seasons as head coach at ORU, leading the Golden Eagles to nine straight regionals and a 365-167 record. He was named Summit League coach of the year five times, and he has served as head coach for Team USA, a sign of the great respect he has earned in coaching circles for his pitching acumen and his leadership skills. A pitcher at Oklahoma State from 1983-86, Walton couldn't resist the lure of Stillwater.
"This is a really special opportunity for me and my family," Walton said in a release. "My wife and I went to school there, and it's a chance to come back to our alma mater and help Coach Holliday get the program going in the right direction. Hopefully we can bring it back to prominence.
"I've known Josh for a long time. He has a passion for OSU baseball and so do I, and so we're going to team up and do the best job that we can do to put the program back where it needs to be."
Ryan Folmer, who has been ORU's hitting coach under Walton for the past nine seasons, would seemingly be a strong candidate to succeed Walton as Golden Eagles head coach. Other potential targets include Arkansas assistant Todd Butler and former Baylor assistant Mitch Thompson.
Ohio University has hired former Creighton associate head coach Rob Smith as its new head coach, replacing the retired Joe Carbone.
Smith has spent the last six years as the recruiting coordinator on Ed Servais' staff, helping to build three NCAA tournament teams (2007, 2011 and 2012). The Bluejays reached the Los Angeles Regional final this year before losing to UCLA. Smith has also overseen Creighton's pitching staff, which annually ranks among the best in the Missouri Valley Conference. Before arriving at Creighton, Smith spent five years as an assistant at Purdue
"He has had a dynamic impact at every stop during his 16-year coaching career," Ohio athletics director Jim Schaus said. "He has a renowned reputation in building a successful pitching staff, which has consistently led their conference and has regularly ranked in the top 20 in ERA nationally. Rob is also known for his recruiting prowess as well as his ability to develop players. He has tremendous energy and passion that is infectious."
Five of the eight spots in the College World Series are set, but it's easy to predict which team will be the darling of Omaha.
Stony Brook completed one of the most stunning upsets in college baseball history Sunday, thoroughly dominating Louisiana State 7-2 to win the Baton Rouge Super Regional. Stony Brook, an America East Conference school from Long Island, went into college baseball's most intimidating environment and won a decisive third game in front of 11,976 fans—larger than Stony Brook's home attendance for the entire season. On his way into the postgame press conference, coach Matt Senk received a congratulatory handshake from former LSU coach Skip Bertman, winner of five national titles. The moment was surreal for Senk, who arrived at Stony Brook in 1991 and shepherded the program through its transition from Division III to D-II in 1995, then from D-II to D-I in 2000.
"I'm a little overwhelmed, quite frankly, because I think I do know the magnitude of this," Senk said afterward. "To make it to Omaha is every college baseball team's dream, every college baseball coach's dream, and it's come to fruition. And to do against LSU, Alex Box Stadium . . . to shake Coach Bertman's hand on the way in. Oh my God. Having that man congratulate me for going to the College World Series, it's just unbelievable."
Frankie Vanderka, who spent most of the season as Stony Brook's closer, held LSU to just three hits in a complete game, while the Seawolves pounded out 15 hits against LSU's vaunted pitching staff. First-team preseason All-American Travis Jankowski went 4-for-6 to lead the Seawolves, who took control of the game with three runs in the third and two more in the fourth. The only time Stony Brook trailed in the three-game super regional was after Mason Katz hit a walk-off RBI single to end the first game in the 12th inning. It was a dominating performance by the Seawolves, who went through perennial powerhouses Miami and LSU on their way to Omaha. [...] Continue Reading »
A pair of Pac-12 teams punched their tickets to Omaha by completing sweeps of their home super regionals on Saturday. First, in Tucson, Arizona used a balanced 12-hit attack in support of Konner Wade (9 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) to beat St. John's 7-4. The Wildcats took control with three runs in the first and never looked back, completing an unbeaten run through regionals and supers to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2004. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Tallahassee Super Regional in their first game in Omaha.
Later, in Los Angeles, UCLA got another strong start from Nick Vander Tuig (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and another sparkling relief outing from David Berg (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K) to beat Texas Christian, 4-1. The Bruins also waltzed unbeaten through regionals and supers, outscoring their opponents 33-9 in five games. UCLA heads back to Omaha for the second time in three seasons and awaits the winner of the Baton Rouge Super Regional.
On to the rest of Saturday's action:
Baton Rouge Super Regional
In the resumption of Friday's suspended game, LSU got a walk-off RBI single from Mason Katz to beat Stony Brook 5-4 in 12 innings. Kevin Gausman threw 12 pitches in a scoreless inning of work to earn the win, then started the second game 50 minutes later, pitching well in defeat (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). The Seawolves did not wilt even after letting the first game slip through their fingers in heart-breaking fashion, as RBI singles by Sal Intagliata and Willie Carmona gave Stony Brook a 2-0 lead in the third inning against the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, and Tyler Johnson (9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K) did the rest, leading SBU to a 3-1 win. Johnson, who threw 229 pitches over two starts in regionals last week, collapsed into teammates' arms after his 127-pitch three-hitter against LSU. The two teams meet again Sunday with a trip to Omaha on the line. [...] Continue Reading »
Two more mid-major coaches resigned late this week: Morehead State's Jay Sorg and William & Mary's Frank Leoni.
Sorg led the Eagles to a 100-156-1 record in five seasons, including a 28-27 campaign this spring. Morehead State reached the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in 2009 and 2012 but did not make a regional.
"I feel like I am leaving the program in a good place," Sorg said in a release. "The future is very promising. Many great things have been accomplished. The program has improved every year with the exception of one. We are close to 90 RPI spots better than when we started. We have also seen several players break single-season and career records over the past five years."
The Tribe went 196-178 in seven seasons under Leoni. Ten former William & Mary players signed professional contracts under Leoni, but he could not guide the Tribe to regionals. One possible candidate to replace Leoni might be Nate Goulet, who won the Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year award after leading Old Dominion to the CAA championship game as the interim head coach in 2011. But the Monarchs elected to hire Chris Finwood as head coach after that season.
Another name to keep in mind for the William & Mary job is Kansas State associate head coach John Szefc, a native Northeasterner who guided Marist to three regionals during his tenure from 1996-2002. Since then, Szefc has done fantastic work as an assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette, Kansas and Kansas State.
Here's a quick recap of Friday's super regional action:
Baton Rouge Super Regional
Friday's most dramatic game has yet to reach a conclusion. Upstart Stony Brook carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning in Baton Rouge, but JaCoby Jones led off the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying solo homer—and that was just the beginning of the drama. Stony Brook regained the lead with a run in the top of the 10th—and LSU answered again with a solo homer by Tyler Moore to tie the game in the bottom of the frame. The Seawolves took the lead yet again in the top of the 11th—and LSU answered yet again with a third solo homer, this time off the bat of Mason Katz to lead off the frame. The game was halted by rain in the top of the 12th and will be resumed at 11:05 ET on Saturday. Game Two will start 50 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Los Angeles Super Regional
UCLA erased a 2-1 deficit with five runs in the sixth to beat Texas Christian 6-2. After TCU elected to intentionally walk Brenton Allen (who has just 14 at-bats on the season) to load the bases in the sixth, Cody Regis hit a three-run double to highlight UCLA's rally. Adam Plutko (7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) allowed just a pair of solo homers and improved to 11-3 on the season. [...] Continue Reading »
Oklahoma State announced Josh Holliday as its new head coach today in what was an obvious move for the university.
Holliday grew up in Stillwater, Okla., as his father Tom was a longtime Cowboys assistant. Josh, whose younger brother Matt is an all-star outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, played at OK State and was on the team when his father, since elevated to head coach, led the Cowboys to the 1999 College World Series.
When Josh Holliday's playing career ended, he began a successful assistant coaching career that led him back to his alma mater as an assistant to his father, then to North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and most recently Vanderbilt. Holliday is well-regarded in the industry for his ability to evaluate talent, close a recruiting deal and work with hitters. [...] Continue Reading »
As anticipated, Texas Tech removed the "interim" tag and named Tim Tadlock head baseball coach Thursday.
The Red Raiders had initially lured Tadlock away from Oklahoma to serve as an assistant under Dan Spencer this winter. When Spencer was fired at the end of the season, Tadlock was elevated to interim head coach while the school conducted a national search. But coaches in the region have regarded that process as a mere formality over the last two weeks, declaring Tadlock a lock to get the job.
Tadlock is a Texas Tech alumnus who has built a reputation as an elite recruiter during his time at Oklahoma and before that in the junior-college ranks. He is a proven winner as a head coach in the juco ranks, leading Grayson County (Texas) JC to back-to-back national titles in 1999-2000. As Oklahoma's recruiting coordinator from 2006-11, he helped build the Sooners back into a national power. The Sooners excelled at running his high-octane offense, batting over .300 during all six of his seasons and leading the Big 12 in homers in 2009-10.
"Tim has prepared himself for this tremendous opportunity and honor to lead our baseball program," Texas Tech director of athletics Kirby Hocutt said in a release. "As one of the nation's most respected recruiters and coaches he has demonstrated the ability to attract, teach and win at the highest level. There are great days ahead for Texas Tech baseball."
Baseball America has confirmed a tweet by Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Texas Christian associate head coach Randy Mazey will be the new head coach at West Virginia.
In six years at TCU, Mazey has done an outstanding job handling a Horned Frogs pitching staff that annually ranks among the nation's best. He has been a big part of TCU's rise to national prominence—a rise that has included three trips to super regionals in the last four years. But he also has experience as successful head coach. Before arriving in Fort Worth, Mazey spent three years as the head coach at East Carolina, leading the Pirates to a 120-66-1 record and three straight regionals. The Pirates won a school-record 51 games under Mazey in 2004.
Mazey's first stint as a head coach came at Charleston Southern, where he was hired at age 27 in 1994. In 1996, he led the Buccaneers to regionals for the first time in school history. He departed the following year to serve as recruiting coordinator and pitching coach at Georgia, then headed to ECU as an assistant. He started his coaching career at his alma mater, Clemson, in 1990.
Mazey faces plenty an uphill battle at West Virginia, which moves to the Big 12 next season but lacks Big 12-caliber facilities. If the Mountaineers are serious about increasing their commitment to the program—and indications suggest they are serious—this could be a very good job.
Previous coach Greg Van Zant had to make due with fewer than nine scholarships for most of his tenure, but the program now funds the full 11.7 scholarships, which was a critical first step.
After an exciting Monday that saw five teams complete triumphant runs through losers' brackets, champions have been crowned in all 16 regionals. We'll recap Monday's action shortly, but first let's cut to the chase. Here are the matchups and schedules for next weekend's super regionals:
Friday Through Sunday
The following four best-of-three super regionals will be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary). All times are Eastern. National seeds indicated.
Stony Brook (50-12) at No. 7 Louisiana State (46-16)
Noon (ESPN2HD), Noon (ESPN2HD), 1 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
St. John’s (40-21) at Arizona (41-17)
3 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 3 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 4 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Stanford (41-16) at No. 3 Florida State (46-15)
7 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 6 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Texas Christian (40-20) at No. 2 UCLA (45-14)
9 p.m. (ESPNHD), 9 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 10 p.m. (ESPN2HD) [...] Continue Reading »
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