With a reputation as one of the top recruiters and developers of talent in college baseball, Erik Bakich is in his third season as the head coach at Maryland.
Bakich heads into the 2012 season having overseen a major overhaul of the baseball program in the last two years. His success on the recruiting trail is unprecedented at Maryland, and he has also had a hand in dramatic improvements to the baseball facilities.
In October 2010, Bakich's first full recruiting class, which included 22 newcomers, was ranked in the top 25 by Baseball America. That marked the first time the Terps had a ranked recruiting class, and Bakich followed it up with a 2011 class that received accolades from a number of publications. Bakich and his staff have signed another strong group from the class of 2012 - the Terps' 12 signees constitute another top 25 class according to Perfect Game.
The facilities have seen a number of improvements and additions since Bakich's arrival: a 5,000 square foot indoor hitting and pitching facility was built next to Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium, a new turf infield was added prior to the 2011 season along with a brick backstop, new outfield fence and warning track. A new scoreboard and upgrades to signage in Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium are among the other highlights, as well as renovated locker rooms.
Bakich also instituted the inaugural Maryland Baseball Leadoff Banquet in 2011, which featured keynote speaker Tommy Lasorda in its first season and will have Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter in 2012.
Bakich, who is the youngest head coach at any BCS school, has a remarkable record of recruiting and developing elite talent. In the last 10 years he has coached 73 players that have been selected in the MLB draft, including 25 in the first five rounds and nine first-round picks.
While at Vanderbilt he 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. Maryland has five drafted players on its 2012 roster: seniors Sander Beck and Alfredo Rodriguez, sophomore Tim Kiene and freshmen Andrew Amaro and K.J. Hockaday.
Bakich's success recruiting and developing talent at Maryland comes as no surprise. Prior to his arrival in College Park, he spent the previous seven seasons helping build Vanderbilt into a perennial contender.
At Vandy he established himself as one of the best recruiters in college baseball, hauling in top-25 classes all seven years in Nashville, 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 major league draft.
In addition to his duties as recruiting coordinator, Bakich trained the Commodores' outfielders and served as a hitting coach. In 2004, Vanderbilt experienced the biggest batting-average increase in program history, hitting .304 that season coming off a .258 clip the previous year. Vanderbilt finished in the top three in the SEC in team batting three of the last four seasons under Bakich's tutelage.
Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin added Bakich to his staff in 2003 and handed over the team's primary recruiting duties immediately. In his first year at Vandy, Bakich helped the Commodores reach the SEC Tournament, something they hadn't accomplished in eight years prior to his arrival. The following season, Vanderbilt won 45 games, won an NCAA Regional and advanced to a Super Regional.
Bakich began his college coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Clemson in 2002. There, he assisted in the Tigers' recruiting efforts and worked with the team's outfielders and infielders. In Bakich's one season at Clemson, the Tigers went 54-17 and advanced to the College World Series.
Prior to his coaching career, Bakich had a successful stint as a player.
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 CAA Conference championships and earned number one seeds at NCAA Regionals both seasons. Bakich was named to the All-Regional team at LSU as a third baseman after garnering a unanimous All-Tournament selection at the Bell South Hurricane Classic in Miami, FL earlier in the 1999 season.
He finished his playing career at ECU with a .315 batting average, 14 home runs and 85 RBIs. 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, reside in Annapolis, Md., and have a son, Colt.