A Draft Day Feature written by Catherine Galanti
LMU suffered a 13-1 setback on Thursday night from the 2018 WCC Championship Tournament.
LMU will meet second-seed Gonzaga at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
LMU needs a sweep over Saint Mary's to reach its fourth WCC Championship Tournament in the last five years.
LMU will host Grand Canyon on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
LMU will begin the 2016 season at #11 TCU on Friday night.
Sixth-year head coach Jason Gill previews the 2014 LMU baseball season.
Sixth-year head coach Jason Gill talks about the upcoming 2014 season.
BASE | LMU 5, #26 Oklahoma State 2
2013 Baseball Season Preview with head coach Jason Gill.
Photos from the 2017 WCC Championship Tournament from Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif.
West Coast Conference action from Page Stadium April 8, 2017
Cory Abbott pitches perfect game in West Coast Conference action at Page Stadium on Mar. 25, 2017
Non-conference match-up from Page Stadium on Mar. 14, 2017
Non-conference action on fourth and final game of series at Page Stadium, Feb. 27, 2017
2018 marks the 10th year at the helm of the LMU baseball program for Jason Gill, as LMU's head coach most recently guided the Lions to the 2017 West Coast Conference Championship and its third appearance in the last four years at the WCC Championship Tournament.
Under Gill's guidance, LMU has accumulated 50 All-WCC selections, one WCC title, four Freshmen All-Americans, one Collegiate Baseball All-American, two WCC Defensive Players of the Year, a WCC Pitcher of the Year, an ABCA All-West Region selection, two WCC Freshmen of the Year, 29 Academic All-Conference selections, an Academic All-District selection, 24 players drafted in the MLB Draft (not including 2017 MLB Draft), and has played for the WCC Championship four times.
Gill guided his 2017 squad to a 38-18 overall record and a 20-7 mark in the WCC to earn a share of the West Coast Conference Championship and a berth into the WCC Championship Tournament. The 38 wins are tied for sixth-most in LMU history, and are the most since 2000 (40-19). LMU's .679 winning percentage is fourth-best in LMU history, and the best mark since 1990's .726 percentage. LMU lost just one weekend series, finishing the year 11-1-1 in weekend sets. The Lions also dropped consecutive games just three times in 2017, and 13 of its 18 losses came by three runs or less.
Gill's 2017 offense boasted six players with .300 or better averages - the most in a season for LMU since 2009. LMU's .410 slugging percentage was also best for the Lions since the beginning of the BBCOR era. Finally, the 2017 squad managed the best team batting average (.292) since the BBCOR bat was introduced in 2011. Gill saw his 2017 Lion pitching staff turn in the sixth-best ERA in program history (3.46) while setting new program marks in walks per nine innings (2.69) and shutouts (6), and placing third in strikeouts (446). On the conference and national levels, LMU's hurlers led the WCC in WHIP (1.19) and ERA, while placing 5th and 18th in the nation, respectively. Junior Cory Abbott led the way for the Lions on the mound in 2017, going 11-2 with a 1.74 ERA and 130 strikeouts over 15 starts and 98.1 innings. Abbott, who earned WCC Pitcher of the Year, first team All-American honors and a finalist spot for National Pitcher of the Year, managed the lowest opponent batting average (.173) and most strikeouts-per-nine innings (11.90), second-best ERA (1.74), second-most shutouts (2), fourth-most strikeouts (130), and seventh-most wins (11) in LMU history over the course of the 2017 season.
Including Abbott being named a first team All-WCC pick and the conference's Pitcher of the Year, LMU featured seven All-WCC selections in 2017. Joining Abbott on the first team were position players Phil Caulfield and Jamey Smart. Jimmy Hill and Brenton Arriaga found spots on the second team, while Spencer Erdman earned an honorable mention nod. Freshman Cooper Uhl rounded out the selection, taking home an All-Freshman team selection.
Consistently bringing top talent into his program, Gill's 2011 recruiting class was ranked #23 in the nation according to Baseball America, marking the first top-25 class for LMU in 15 years. He then posted a #22 recruiting class in 2013, giving the Lions two Top-25 classes in three years. LMU was one of only six private schools that had a Top-25 recruiting class from 2011 to 2014, and one of only two Non-BCS schools to have had a Top-25 recruiting class over that span (Cal State Fullerton). In addition, LMU was the only non-BCS private school to have a Top-25 recruiting class during those years, and was the only WCC school to twice have a Top-25 recruiting class. Gill's incoming class for the 2014 season was tabbed as the 34th-best in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball. LMU was just one of four non-BCS schools to make the list, and just one of five private schools lauded. The class was also tied for the best in the West Coast Conference.
The Lions finished the 2016 campaign with a 26-27 overall record and a 13-14 mark in the WCC while playing a tough schedule that featured just 21 home games and no non-conference home weekend series. A personal highlight for Gill in the season came on Opening Night at #11 TCU as the Lions beat the Horned Frogs to capture Gill's 200th career victory. Following the season, Gill saw two of his players selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, as JD Busfield was taken in the seventh round by the Tampa Bay Rays and Cassidy Brown went in the 12th to the Cincinnati Reds. RHP Michael Silva also began his professional career, signing a free agent deal with the Kansas City Royals.
Prior to returning to LMU for the 2017 season, Gill spent the summer of 2016 serving his second stint with Team USA's Collegiate National Team. The 2016 Americans posted an 11-7-1 record, including recording the first-ever series win at Cuba (3-2). For their efforts, the Collegiate National Team was named USA Baseball's Team of the Year.
The 2015 season saw the Lions go 33-21-1, reaching the WCC Championship Game for the second straight year. The 33 victories were the most for a Lion team since recording 40 in 2000 (40-19). Seven Lion players garnered All-WCC honors, including David Fletcher earning a spot on the first team for the second straight year. David Edwards, Austin Miller and Colin Welmon found themselves on the second team, while J.D. Busfield, Trevor Megill and Sean Watkins took home honorable mention honors. Watkins would also receive Freshman All-American accolades as a two-way player. In the June Amateur Draft, LMU had a player selected in the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds, marking the first time since 2005 that LMU has had three players selected in the top-10 rounds.
The Lions finished 2014 with a 32-24 overall record (best since 2004) and a 17-10 mark in the WCC to claim second place and a spot in the WCC Championship Tournament. David Fletcher and Austin Miller earned first team Freshman All-American honors, including becoming the first duo to be tabbed in the same year by Baseball America. Fletcher also took home WCC Defensive Player of the Year in his freshman season, keeping the award with the Lions for the second straight year.
The 2013 season saw Gill's arsenal of talented pitchers finish the year with an LMU record 3.17 ERA, led by a trio of All-WCC selections in right-handers Colin Welmon, Aaron Griffin and Patrick McGrath. The Lions also featured the WCC Defensive Player of the Year in Colton Plaia and honorable mention selections in David Edwards, Zac Fujimoto and Cullen Mahoney.
Gill guided his 2012 squad to a share of third place in the West Coast Conference. In a year that saw the Lions earn the 23rd spot in Baseball America's Top-25 recruiting classes, Gill helped his players to six All-WCC selections at the end of the season, including freshmen Trevor Megill and Colin Welmon as staples of the class. Reaching a coaching milestone, Gill earned his 100th career victory on April 20, 2012, a 5-3 victory over Portland.
At the conclusion of the 2012 campaign, Gill spent the summer of 2012 serving as an assistant coach for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, helping the squad to a 12-5 record and a bronze medal after finishing 5-2 at Honkbal Week hosted at Pim Mulier Stadium in the Netherlands.
Gill's 2011 Lions posted an overall record of 20-25, the best record since 2004 to that point. The Lions, who finished tied for third in the West Coast Conference, began the year with a 7-1 record and closed the year by winning four of their last five games. Gill and his coaching staff also guided the LMU pitching staff to a 3.25 team ERA in 2011. The Lions placed five players on All-Conference teams, while four were taken in the MLB draft, including three in the first 12 rounds for the first time since 2005.
The 2010 season saw the Lions record a series sweep over perennial powerhouse Cal State Fullerton, including a victory over then-No. 9 Fullerton on May 18, and a series victory over Fresno State on the road. The 2010 season also culminated in the first All-American selection under Gill as a head coach, as 2010 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Matt Lowenstein was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Ping!Baseball.
LMU finished in second place in the WCC in 2009 after posting a 30-29 overall record and a 13-8 mark in conference play to earn a spot in the WCC Championship Series. The Lions' 8-2 start in 2009 was the best since the 1988 season, and it was also the best start over the first 10 games for a first-year skipper in LMU program history. Gill's 2009 squad finished the year with a 9-2 record against ranked-opponents, including recording a four-game sweep of then-defending National Champion Fresno State and a crucial three-game sweep over WCC-foe San Diego. Proving they can play with any team in Southern California, widely considered one of the toughest regions in the country, LMU also knocked-off perennial powerhouses, then-No. 5 UC Irvine and sixth-ranked Cal State Fullerton, in 2009. Although those victories were highlights for LMU players and fans alike, they were likely even bigger for Gill, as he coached at both programs after taking the field as a player for the Titans in 1994.
For the four years preceding his start as LMU's seventh skipper in program history, Gill worked under head coach George Horton at Oregon and Cal State Fullerton, serving as an infield coach, recruiting coordinator and as a primary hitting instructor. Gill is no stranger to starting a program from the ground up, taking on the task twice, most recently at the University of Oregon. Gill was Horton's first hire as both men left Cal State Fullerton to begin the reconstruction of the Duck baseball program in 2007. Always considered one of the best recruiters in college baseball, Gill's 2007 recruiting class was ranked in the top-10 in the nation by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.
In the three years preceding the move to Eugene, Ore., the Titans made it to Omaha and the College World Series twice, won two Big West Conference titles and had 35 players drafted. The three-year stint under Horton was Gill's second on the Fullerton coaching staff, having started his coaching career as an undergraduate assistant for legendary skipper, and Division I baseball's all-time winningest coach, Augie Garrido. In that first term, Gill served essential roles on both the 1995 National Championship and 1996 Fullerton squads.
Before his return to Fullerton, Gill spent three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for UC Irvine, as the coaching staff resurrected the baseball program from extinction. After just three years of developing the program, Gill helped lead UCI to a NCAA Regional in 2004.
Furthering his reputation as a standout recruiter, the Anteaters' 2002 recruiting class was ranked eighth in the country by Baseball America, with the following two classes among Collegiate Baseball's top-30. Overall, Gill has served as a collegiate recruiting coordinator directly for seven years, recording six recruiting classes in the top-30 and two in the top-10 over that span.
Prior to UCI, Gill was an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount where he helped guide the Lions to their most recent WCC titles and playoff berths in 1999 and 2000. Over that two-year span, nine LMU players moved on to professional baseball. Perhaps the most successful draft year in LMU history, Gill watched six of his Lion ballplayers sign professional contracts in 2000, including one player in each of the first three rounds.
Coach Gill also served two years as an assistant coach at Nevada in 1997 and 1998. While there, the Wolfpack made the postseason for just the second time in school history. Serving as the team's hitting coach and working closely with the infielders, Gill guided the 1997 team to nine offensive team records at Nevada. In addition, his tutelage of the infielders was instrumental in placing Nevada first in the country in double plays in both seasons.
Before embarking on his coaching career, Gill played one year at Cal State Fullerton, hitting .345, scoring 28 runs and starting 43 games at third base as a senior. That year, the All-Big West Conference infielder helped the Titans to a 47-16 overall record and a College World Series berth. Gill started his collegiate career playing two seasons at Cuesta College before playing his junior campaign at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Overall, Coach Gill has been to Omaha four times as a player and a coach. In addition, he has been to the postseason a total of nine times, coached four Conference Players of the Year, including three infielders directly under his guidance, and been a part of six Conference Championships.
A local product who prepped at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., Gill received his bachelor's degree from Cal State Fullerton in kinesiology in 1996. Gill, who was born on April 7, 1970, lives with his wife, Kacey, and his son, Shane.
|MAJOR LEAGUERS WHO HAVE PLAYED FOR GILL|
|Draft Year||Name||Round | Pick||Team||MLB Debut|
|2015||David Fletcher||6th | 195||Los Angeles Angels||June 13, 2018|
|2011||Jason Wheeler||8th | 268||Minnesota Twins||May 30, 2017|
|2009||Ryan Wheeler||5th | 156||Arizona Diamondbacks||July 20, 2012|
|2009||Khris Davis||7th | 226||Milwaukee Brewers||April 1, 2013|
|2009||Dustin Garneau||19th | 571||Colorado Rockies||August 20, 2015|
|2006||Blake Davis||4th | 115||Baltimore Orioles||June 22, 2011|
|2006||Justin Turner||7th | 204||Cincinnati Reds||September 8, 2009|
|2006||Bret Pill||7th | 206||San Francisco Giants||September 6, 2011|
|2006||Vinnie Pestano||20th | 611||Cleveland Indians||September 23, 2010|
|2006||Danny Dorn||32nd | 954||Cincinnati Reds||April 21, 2015|
|2005||Ricky Romero||1st | 6||Toronto Blue Jays||April 9, 2009|
|2000||Billy Traber||1st | 16||New York Mets||April 4, 2003|
|2000||Michael Schultz||2nd | 69||Arizona Diamondbacks||April 20, 2007|
|2000||Joe Inglet||8th | 246||Cleveland Indians||June 21, 2006|
|2000||Ryan Church||14th | 426||Cleveland Indians||August 21, 2004|
|1999||Reed Johnson||17th | 523||Toronto Blue Jays||April 17, 2003|
|1999||Lyle Overbay||18th | 538||Arizona Diamondbacks||September 19, 2001|
|1998||Aaron Rowand||1st | 35||Chicago White Sox||June 16, 2001|
|1998||Corky Miller||FA | FA||Cincinnati Reds||September 4, 2001|
|1997||Matt Wise||6th | 177||Anaheim Angels||August 2, 2000|
|1997||Mike Lamb||7th | 227||Texas Rangers||April 23, 2000|
|1997||Andy Dominique||26th | 776||Philadelphia Phillies||May 25, 2004|
|1996||Mark Kotsay||1st | 9||Florida Marlins||July 11, 1997|
|1996||Jeremy Giambi||6th | 169||Kansas City Royals||September 1, 1998|
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