The DII baseball 1,000-win club saw three new head coaches enter the group in the 2022 season, with one more just one game away. First, Pittsburg State's Bob Fornelli reached the milestone followed by Flagler's Dave Barnett a mere eight days later. On April 19, Frank Sims of Spring Hill made 2022 a monumental year for DII baseball coaches.
Longtime MIAA head coach reaches 1,000 wins
When Pittsburg State defeated Central Oklahoma 3-2 on Saturday, April 2, Fornelli became just the sixth head coach in DII baseball history to reach the coveted 1,000-win mark with yet another milestone victory.
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He was also the fastest to ever do it, reaching the mark in his 26th season.
"It's not something I think about to be honest with you," Fornelli said after the victory. "I want kids when they get done to love the program, to have played hard and to have met the best friends of their lives. I think we've done that for the most part. You're trying to get this team accomplished and do some good things. We're fortunate enough that we started out OK. We've lost some games that we shouldn't have, but we found a way to win some games. But the most important game is going to be tomorrow."
Fornelli's career began in 1997 with a 48-win season at Fort Hays State. It was the first of 25-consecutive winning seasons posted by a Fornelli ball club — whether that was with the Tigers (1997-2003), Emporia State (2004-2018) or the Gorillas (2019-present). If you are good at math, you'll quickly realize that Fornelli has never had a losing season. He's led both the Hornets and Tigers to the DII baseball championship game and has had plenty of tournament success over his illustrious career.
"He's one of those guys who gets everything out of you," said Gorillas left fielder Jordan Maxson, whose two home runs on April 2 powered Fornelli to win No. 1,000. "I love him to death, one of the best coaches I ever played for."
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Flagler's Barnett makes seven 1,000-win DII baseball coaches
On Sunday, April 10, Flagler's head coach punched his ticket to the club. Barnett was a mere two wins away on March 28, but the Saints lost seven in a row, putting the monumental victory on hold for two weeks. With a pair of wins over Lander, Barnett finally hit 1,000 — a number he began chasing when his career began in 1987 at Flagler. That's right — all 1,000 wins have come with the Saints. He is the third DII baseball coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau with the same program for his entire career.
“Thirty-five years of tremendous players and coaches had everything to do with this milestone,” said Barnett. “Flagler College has really blessed me.”
Just in time: Frank Sims reaches 1,000
It has been a long time coming for Sims. Sims, who took over the Spring Hill program for the 1984-85 academic year has been a college baseball staple for 39 years. While it took him the longest to get there among the coaches with 1,000 wins, he did it in the nick of time. Sims announced this would be his final season entering the 2022 campaign.
“It’s really more of a testament to the players who have been through our program over the years,” Sims commented after a celebratory water cooler soaking from his team. “They have to go out and either win or lose. I appreciate every one of them for making this moment happen for me, Spring Hill College, and all these guys on the field tonight.”
Enjoy the water cooler shower, Coach. It will make that retirement all the more sweeter.
The DII baseball 1,000-win club
|Head coach||Seasons||Team(s)||Wins (as of April 20, 2022)|
|John Schaly||35||Berry, Saint Leo, Ashland||1,226|
|John Goelz||36||Sonoma State||1,119|
|Greg Guilliams||32||Penn State-Behrend, Embry-Riddle, Valdosta State||1,112|
|Jeff Messer||37||Slippery Rock||1,062|
|Gary Rundles||35||Carson-Newman, West Alabama||1,025|
|Bob Fornelli||26||FHSU, Emporia State, Pitt State||1,003|
|Frank Sims||39||Milton, Spring Hill||1,000|
|Chris Hanks||24||Colorado Mesa||967|
|NOTE: All head coaches on this list are active; all stats per NCAA.org. All wins will be updated at the beginning of each season.|
As you can see, Ashland head coach John Schaly is the winningest DII baseball coach of all time. He has made the Eagles a perennial power, never posting a losing season since taking over at Ashland in 1998 and reaching Cary, North Carolina, for the DII baseball championship as recently as 2019. A little fun fact: Schaly's father Don coached for DIII baseball's Marietta College, racking up 1,442 wins in his nearly 40-year tenure. They were the first father-son duo in the four-year college baseball ranks to each win 1,000 games.
Prior to Fornelli, West Alabama's Gary Rundles was the most recent member of the club. With a victory over Spring Hill in March 2020, Rundles became the fifth head coach to reach the impressive milestone. Not only has Slippery Rock's Jeff Messer already surpassed the 1,000-win mark, but as one of the three head coaches spending his entire career with the same program, he is also the PSAC's all-time leader in victories.
With just 21 games remaining on the regular season schedule, even if Colorado Mesa were to make another deep run in Cary, head coach Chris Hanks will likely fall just short of the mark in 2022. However, being that the Mavs win a lot of ballgames on an annual basis, Hanks will have the chance early next season to surpass Fornelli as the fastest DII baseball head coach to reach 1,000 wins.