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Coastal Carolina Promotes Drew Thomas

CONWAY – Coastal Carolina head baseball coach Gary Gilmore announced today the promotion of pitching coach Drew Thomas to a full-time post on the staff, replacing former assistant Brendan Dougherty who left to take a similar position at Western Kentucky.

Thomas, who spent the past five seasons at Coastal Carolina as a volunteer assistant and the camps coordinator, will remain pitching coach and now have the ability to recruit off campus.

“First, I want to express my gratitude to Brendan and wish him and his family the best,” Gilmore said. “He has been an integral part of our success and he loves Coastal Carolina. Going to Western Kentucky is a great opportunity for him professionally, as he will serve as recruiting coordinator. I know he will continue to be an outstanding recruiter and instructor.

“As for Drew, his commitment to Coastal Carolina and his impact on this program is equally as important. When you look at the long list of pitchers he has developed and the overall success of our pitching staff since Drew arrived, this was an easy and much deserved decision. He will bring a lot to the recruiting process, serving as a cross-checker, to bring in the right guys for this program and the right guys to give us a Omaha pitching staff.”

Since his arrival in 2007, Coastal Carolina has produced the Big South Pitcher of the Year four times, including Bobby Gagg (2007), Cody Wheeler (2009), Anthony Meo (2010) and Matt Rein (2011). Gagg, Wheeler, Nick McCully, David Anderson, Meo and Rein added All-American honors while McCully and Ryan Connolly were tabbed Freshman All-American and Austin Fleet was an Academic All-America. In addition, 15 All-Big South honors have been bestowed upon his pitchers. Over his tenure, 11 Chanticleer pitchers have been drafted.

Also, in the NCAA, Coastal’s pitching staff has finished among the nation’s top 40 in ERA in each of Thomas’ first five seasons, finishing 18th in 2007 (3.63), 32nd in 2008 (4.24), 10th in 2009 (4.04), 8th in 2010 (3.53) and 18th in 2011 (2.97). Also, in each of the last three years, Coastal has ranked no lower than 12th nationally in fewest hits allowed per nine innings.­

Most recently, Meo was a second-round pick in the 2011 MLB draft after producing his third spectacular season. Over his last six starts, he was named Big South Pitcher of the Week twice, threw a no-hitter in the Big South Tournament to be National Tri-Player of the Week once and led CCU to a win over Connecticut versus first-round pick Matt Barnes in the NCAA Clemson Regional. Over those six games, he was 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA, pitching 45 innings with nine walks and 52 strike outs.

Overall, Meo was a three-time Big South Pitcher of the Week in 2011, earning first team All-Big South for the third time in three years. Meo ended 2011 with a 10-3 record and a career-low 2.16 ERA, ranking 21st nationally with a Big South-best 115 strikeouts. He also set a Big South record with his 2.52 career ERA and is the only pitcher in CCU and Big South history to win at least 30 games in a three-year career, posting 32 wins to rank fourth on the CCU all-time list and third in league history. He also ranks on the CCU career lists for games started (8th; 45); innings pitched (10th; 281.2) and strikeouts (6th; 277).

Rein, a 2011 All-American and two-time first team All-Big South pick, led the league in ERA (2.07) – including an 0.82 ERA in league play, and – opponent batting average (.210), while ranking second in wins. In the CCU record book, Rein’s 2.07 ERA in 2011 ranks eighth all-time and second in the Division I era, while his .228 opponent batting average in ‘11 ranks fourth in the Division I era. He ranks fourth all-time in career appearances (91), 11th all-time in career ERA (2.99) and 15th all-time in career wins (21). He would go on to sign as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 2010 season was headlined by Big South Pitcher of the Year Meo, who finished second in the NCAA with 13 wins, and fellow first team All-Big South pick Wheeler, who was fifth in the NCAA with 12 wins, both pitchers were named All-American by several publications. The two were joined on the Big South first team by relief pitcher Matt Rein, while freshman relief pitcher Connolly was tabbed second team All-Big South. Meo, the American Baseball Coaches Association District IV Player of the Year, would go on to be a semifinalist for the Dick Howser and Golden Spike National Player of the Year awards with Wheeler being a fifth-round draft pick. Connolly capped the laundry list of honors by being named Freshman All-American after he set a CCU record with 40 pitching appearances in a season. Meo, Wheeler and Rein combined to go 32-3. Securing most of the wins was closer Fleet, who was 6-2 with a Big South-best eight saves. Fleet additionally was named first team Academic All-America as well as the Big South male Student-Athlete of the Year. Overall, Coastal dominated the Big South pitching with a 3.53 ERA, nearly one full run better than the next closest, while holding opponents to a meager .248 batting average. The Chants only walked 226 (3.48 per game) and struck out 530 (8.17 per game). Nationally, Coastal was eighth in ERA and seventh in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (8.37).

The Coastal Carolina pitching staff had a tremendous season in 2009. Wheeler was named the Big South Pitcher of the Year and was a second team Louisville Slugger All-American. He went 10-1 on the year and had a no-hitter against Hawai’i (March 26). McCully was 8-1 with a 2.10 ERA and eight saves as well as being named to the All-Big South First Team and the All-Big South Tournament Team. McCully was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Meo was a first team All-Big South honoree his freshman season. He went 9-2, setting a CCU freshman record, with a 2.92 ERA en route to Freshman All-American honors as well. The Coastal pitching staff finished 10th in the country in ERA and 12th in hits allowed per nine innings.

The Coastal Carolina pitching staff enjoyed tremendous success in 2008, finishing 32nd in the country in ERA. Bobby Gagg, Joey Haug and Pete Andrelczyk were named to the All-Big South first team, while Nick McCully was a second team selection. McCully also was named to the All-NCAA Conway Regional team, while Haug was an All-Big South Tournament selection. Andrelczyk was selected in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Florida Marlins.

In 2007, Coastal finished 18th in the country in ERA. Gagg was named the Big South Pitcher of the Year, while Gagg, David Anderson and Andy DeLaGarza all were named to the All-Big South teams. Gagg was a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and a second team All-Region selection by the ABCA. McCully also was named to the All-Big South Tournament team and was an All-Freshman Team selection by Ping! Baseball.

Thomas came to Coastal Carolina from the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., where he had worked since 2003. He was the roving pitching instructor for the Florida Collegiate Instructional League and also was the pitching coach for the Pendleton Academy. Thomas helped develop Chris Perez, a first-round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, and also worked with former Chanticleer Steven Carter.

Thomas was a private pitching instructor in Springfield, Ill., from 2001-02. He also was the head coach of the Mason County Legion in Springfield.

He pitched in the San Diego Padres organization in 1998-99, and played for the Canton Crocodiles of the Frontier League in 1999-2000. While with the Crocs, Thomas was the 2000 Frontier League Relief Pitcher of the Year, a League All-Star, and a second team Baseball America All-Independent Team member.

Thomas graduated from Illinois State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

Thomas and his wife, Jaymie, have a four-year old son, Henry, and one-year-old daughter, Lila, and reside in Myrtle Beach.

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