FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
SAN DIEGO – San Diego State Head Baseball Coach Tony Gwynn has announced the hiring of Eric Valenzuela to the position of Aztec pitching coach. Valenzuela comes to SDSU from the University of San Diego where he served as the Toreros’ pitching coach the past six seasons. Gwynn also revealed that former SDSU player Brock Ungricht will assume duties as the program’s volunteer assistant coach for the upcoming campaign.
Known as a standout recruiter and instructor, Valenzuela was a key component in the success of USD baseball in recent years and was instrumental in the development of the Torero pitching staff into one of the finest in the nation. He made an immediate impact during his first season at USD in 2004 as the Torero mound corps led the West Coast Conference in team ERA. Valenzuela spearheaded the recruiting efforts for the 2008 USD recruiting class that was ranked the nation’s best by Baseball America. He was also the catalyst for the 2006 recruiting class that was among Baseball America’s Dandy Dozen.
During his tenure at USD, Valenzuela helped guide three pitchers to All-American status in 2007 and 2008 as well as helping Brian Matusz earn WCC Pitcher of the Year honors and become the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft. Also under his tutelage, USD had three pitcher’s (Matusz Josh Romanski in 2007) and AJ Griffin in 2008) named to Team USA.
A native of Covina, Valenzuela returned to Southern California after serving as an assistant coach at St. Mary’s College for two seasons (2002 & 2003). While at St. Mary’s, he coordinated much of the team’s community programs, including directing youth camps and clinics. Valenzuela served as the Gaels third base coach, managed recruiting efforts and also directed the team’s strength and conditioning program. His background in developing young talent includes managing the pitching staff of the Brewster White Caps of the Cape Code League in 2003.
Valenzuela garnered All-America honors as a prep athlete at Bishop Amat High School and went on to accept a baseball scholarship at Arizona State University where he was a member of the Sun Devil’s 1998 College World Series team. After transferring to Pepperdine, Valenzuela would be honored as the Waves’ team captain his senior year, leading Pepperdine to the 2001 West Coast Conference Championship title.
A 2001 graduate of Pepperdine with a B.A. in criminal justice, Valenzuela along with his wife Betty and two-year-old daughter Catalina Esmie reside in San Diego.
Ungricht, a former first baseman/catcher for the Aztecs, returns to his alma mater for the upcoming season. In addition to general baseball coaching and administrative duties, he will also be in charge of the Aztec Baseball Camps.
A three-year letterwinner at San Diego State (2004-06), Ungricht earned all-Mountain West Conference accolades as a freshman when he hit .4334 in league play with 14 doubles and 30 runs batted in over 29 games. He finished his three seasons at SDSU with a career batting average of .318 with 44 doubles and 117 RBI. He still ranks among the Aztec all-time leaders in hits, doubles, RBI and total bases.
Selected by the Yankees in the 30th round in the 2006 draft, he played in that organization’s system for one season before competing for the Chico Outlaws in the Golden Baseball League in 2007. Most recently he served as head coach of Kearny High School in San Diego, leading the Tigers to their first league title in 28 years.
The 24-year-old Ungricht played his prep baseball at nearby Mission Bay high school where he won all-league and all-CIF honors for three seasons and was an all-state selection each of those years. He graduated from San Diego State in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice.