University of California San Diego head coach Eric Newman was named the 2017 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Diamond NCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year.
The award marks a first regional honor for Newman in his six years in charge at UC San Diego. He was the 2012 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Coach of the Year in his first go-around with the Tritons.
In 2017, Newman directed UCSD to a 44-19 overall record and the Division II West Region championship, sweeping through all four games at the regional tournament in Azusa. The Tritons then advanced through to the national finals in Grand Prairie, Texas, winning four consecutive elimination tilts after losing their opener. Needing to beat West Chester of Pennsylvania twice for the first national title in program history, Newman’s club dropped a 5-2 decision in the first of two potential matchups with the Golden Rams. The runner-up finish matched UCSD’s best ever.
UCSD previously placed second in the CCAA South Division, as well as at the CCAA Championship. The Tritons lost their second game at the double-elimination, six-team event, but won three successive elimination contests to make it all the way to a winner-take-all championship meeting with rival Chico State, falling 12-5.
The West Region trophy was UCSD’s third at the Division II level and fifth in its history, the prior ones coming in 1987, 1994, 2009 and 2010. The 44 wins were the second-most in the program’s existence, behind only the 54 from 2010, when the Tritons were also the national runners-up.
The ABCA West Region Coach of the Year award wraps a remarkable month-plus for Newman. Around the lengthy, thrilling runs at the CCAA Championship, West Regional and NCAA Championship, Newman earned win No. 200 at the UCSD helm on May 13, 13-4 against Chico State to force a rematch for the CCAA tourney crown. He then also achieved career win No. 300 overall in the Tritons’ first elimination game in Texas on May 30, rallying from a 7-1 deficit to take a 10-8 triumph. In between, Newman and his wife, Melissa, welcomed twin daughters on May 24.
Newman has directed his Tritons to six seasons in a row with a plus-.500 overall record, five of them with more than 30 wins. The just-concluded campaign was his first with 40 victories.
Newman’s 2017 staff included first-year pitching coach Justin James, recruiting coordinator, hitting and third base coach J.T. Bloodworth, first base coach Jeff Calhoon, and former Triton closer Tony York.
The coaches of the year will be honored during the ABCA/Diamond Hall of Fame/Coach of the Year Banquet at the 74th annual ABCA Convention, which will be held Jan. 4-7, 2018, in Indianapolis, Ind. The banquet is set for Friday, Jan. 5, at the JW Marriott Hotel.
The ABCA, founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. Its over 8,200 members represent all 50 states and 23 countries.
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