The 2013 LMU baseball team officially started practice on Monday, energetically taking to Page Stadium with the goals of its first WCC Championship since 2000 and much more. The practice opened with a speech from fifth-year head coach Jason Gill before going into discussions and drills.
Jason Gill enters his fifth year at the helm of the LMU baseball program in 2013, having posted 30-win seasons in two of his first four years as head coach. Gill recently spent the summer of 2012 serving as an assistant coach for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, guiding 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.
On the field at LMU, Gill most recently guided the baseball program to an even 27-27 overall record and a 14-10 mark in the WCC during the 2012 season. The conference record saw the Lions finish tied for third. 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.
In 2011, Gill guided the Lions to their best overall record since 2004, posting a mark of 30-25. The Lions finished 11-10 in the West Coast Conference, earning a tie for third overall. The Lions began the year with a 7-1 record and closed the year by winning four of its last five games. Gill and his coaching staff also guided the LMU pitching staff to a 3.25 team ERA in 2011 - the best for LMU since at least 1968 when season stats began to be consistently preserved. 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 Lions finished the 2010 season with a 23-33 overall record and a 5-16 mark in the WCC, placing eighth in the conference. Gill did lead his team to 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 his 14 years of coaching, 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.