Head coach Erik Bakich reveals what the program is all about, what recruiting means to him, what he looks for in a Michigan student-athlete and what that student-athlete can achieve from being a Wolverine.
Erik Bakich completed his second season as head coach of the University of Michigan baseball program in 2013. Bakich was announced as the 19th head coach in the history of Michigan baseball on June 27, 2012.
The 2014 edition of the Michigan baseball team won 30 games and finished in a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten Conference. U-M also advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, winning a pair of games in that tournament for the first time since 2008. Bakich coached a pair of All-Big Ten honorees (Jackson Glines - 2nd, Travis Maezes - 3rd) and four Academic All-Big Ten selections. Juniors James Bourque and Trent Szkutnik were both picked in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft and freshman Brett Adcock and Carmen Benedetti were named to both the Big Ten All-Freshman and the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America teams.
In Bakich's first season in Ann Arbor, he guided the Maize and Blue to 29 wins and 14-10 record in the Big Ten, good for a tie for fifth place. That was a seven-game overall and a six-game conference improvement from 2012. Also, the Wolverines returned to the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2010. Bakich coached three All-Big Ten honorees (Michael O'Neill - 1st, Jacob Cronenworth - 2nd, Cole Martin - 3rd) and four Academic All-Big Ten selections. O'Neill also was an ABCA All-Mideast Region first team selection and a third round pick by the New York Yankees in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. A trio of freshmen (Cronenworth, Travis Maezes and Evan Hill) earned Big Ten All-Freshman team honors and were Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans.
Bakich (pronounced back-itch) came to Ann Arbor after spending three years as the head coach at the University of Maryland. He led the Terrapins to a 32-24 record in 2012, which was a 15-win improvement from his first season in College Park. Maryland started the season by taking 2-of-3 games at UCLA, which went on to earn a No. 2 national seed and a berth in the College World Series. The Terps also enjoyed wins over Purdue, East Carolina and St. John's in the non-conference slate and North Carolina, Virginia, Miami, N.C. State and Florida State in Atlantic Coast Conference action. Maryland had a 3.21 team earned-run average, which was third in the ACC. Bakich also had four players drafted from the 2012 team in this year's MLB First-Year Player Draft, including Alfredo Rodriguez, who was picked in the 17th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bakich, who is currently the youngest head baseball coach at a BCS school, had an initial recruiting class at Maryland in 2010 that was ranked in the top 25 by Baseball America. That marked the first time the Terps had a ranked recruiting class. Bakich followed it up with a 2011 class that received accolades from a number of publications and a 2012 class that was ranked in the top 25 by Perfect Game USA. In the last 11 years, he has coached 77 players that have been selected in the MLB Draft, including 25 in the first five rounds and nine first-round picks.
Bakich also had a hand in several improvements to facilities at Maryland. Included in these improvements are a 5,000-square-foot indoor hitting and pitching facility that was built next to Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium, a new turf infield (added prior to the 2011 season) along with a brick backstop, a new outfield fence and warning track. A new scoreboard and upgrades to signage in the stadium and renovated locker rooms are other highlights of facility upgrades for Maryland's baseball program.
Bakich instituted the inaugural Maryland Baseball Leadoff Banquet in 2011, which featured keynote speaker Tommy Lasorda in its first season and Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter in 2012.
Bakich was the assistant coach at Vanderbilt University from 2003-09, serving as the Commodores' recruiting coordinator as well as being the hitting coach and working with the outfielders. Under Bakich's assistance, Vanderbilt was 276-157 in his seven seasons in Nashville. That included a 54-win team in 2007 and two seasons of 40-plus wins (45 in 2004; 41 in 2008).
In his first year at Vandy, Bakich helped the Commodores reach the Southeastern Conference Tournament, something they had not done in eight years prior to his arrival. Vandy then advanced to a Super Regional in the 2004 season after winning the Charlottesville Regional.
While at Vanderbilt, Bakich recruited and coached David Price, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft and finished second in voting for the 2010 Cy Young Award as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Bakich also hauled in top-25 recruiting classes all seven years, including the top-ranked class in 2005 and the second-ranked class in 2008. From 2008-10, 22 Commodores that Bakich recruited were selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Bakich began his college coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Clemson in 2002. There, he worked with the Tigers' outfielders and infielders as well as assisted in Clemson's recruiting efforts. In Bakich's one season at Clemson, the Tigers went 54-17 and advanced to the College World Series.
Bakich had a successful career as a player prior to his coaching career. After transferring from San Jose City College in California, Bakich was a standout for East Carolina in 1999 and 2000. While there, the Pirates won back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championships and earned number-one seeds at NCAA Regionals both years. Bakich was named to the All-Baton Rouge Regional team as a third baseman after earning unanimous all-tournament honors at the Bell South Hurricane Classic in Miami, Fla., earlier in the 1999 season.
He finished his playing career at ECU with a .315 batting average, 14 home runs and 85 RBI. Bakich graduated from East Carolina in 2000 with a degree in exercise and sports science. Upon graduation, Bakich played professionally in the Independent Professional Baseball League until 2001. At the conclusion of his playing career, Bakich returned to East Carolina, where he served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for one year.
Bakich and his wife, Jiffy, have two sons, Colt and Beau.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH BAKICH
Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin "Erik is a tremendous match for Michigan and its athletic department. The kids in that program will really enjoy being around him and feeding off of his personality and teaching ability....he is a winner. Erik understands the higher purpose of being a head coach at an elite academic institution and developing strong core values within that culture. He is also blessed to have a wife (Jiffy) that embraces the opportunities that her husband has and shares in the development of building a healthy collegiate athletic program. I know Erik is very grateful for this opportunity, but Michigan is very fortunate to have him."
Florida Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan
"Erik is a perfect fit for the University of Michigan and will do great things for the Wolverines. He is a tireless worker and will be very successful leading the Michigan baseball program. Erik's work ethic and attitude will play a key role in developing Michigan's program. I wish him the best of luck in making the Wolverines a perennial contender in the Big Ten Conference."