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Monmouth Baseball Announces Coaching Changes

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University head baseball coach Dean Ehehalt has announced changes to his coaching staff for the 2012 season. Jimmy Belanger, who has been the pitching coach for the past two years, has added the role of recruiting coordinator, while Rick Oliveri joins the staff as an assistant coach. In addition, Jeff Barbalinardo will begin his 17th season on the MU sideline, focusing on the outfield corps.

“Coach Belanger, Coach Barbalinardo, and Coach Oliveri give us a great staff, which I am very excited about,” said Ehehalt. “They will all be instrumental in helping us reach our program goals and providing our student-athletes with a great college experience.”

Belanger, who came to MU in the summer of 2009, mentored a pitching staff which helped lead the Hawks to a 2011 Northeast Conference Regular Season Championship. The Hawks arms, paced by NEC Pitcher of the Year Nick Meyers, led the conference in team pitching. In 55 games, the Blue and White combined to record a 3.34 ERA with 36 wins, including 25 league victories which set a new program mark. In over 460 innings pitched, MU hurlers allowed a league-low in hits (462), runs (216), and walks (132) while recording a conference-high in strikeouts with 322. Monmouth also posted 10 saves, led by NJCBA Rookie Relief Pitcher of the Year, Andrew McGee (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) who converted six saves.

“Jimmy has done a tremendous job with our pitching staff the past two years and has really emerged into a fine recruiter,” stated Ehehalt. “He is very respected in the baseball community and I am certain he is going to do a great job in his new role as recruiting coordinator.”

In his first season with the Hawks, Belanger, who played two seasons at the University of Louisville, led the pitching corps to the second-lowest earned run average in the Northeast Conference in 2010. In addition, opponents batted .300 against the MU pitching staff, good for third in the league. Belanger also tutored Meyers and Kyle Breese to the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association (NJCBA) All-State first and second teams, respectively.

Belanger, who helped lead Louisville to the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles in 2009 as a coach, helped guide a staff that won an NCAA Regional, advanced to a second NCAA Super Regional in three years and finished ranked as high as No. 14 in the nation.

Oliveri’s responsibilities will include working with the hitters, catchers, all aspects of the defense, recruiting and assist with the day-to-day operation of the program. Most recently, Oliveri was an assistant coach at Radford University out of the Big South Conference, guiding the catching corps to a 34% caught stealing percentage. During his two seasons with Highlanders, the Buffalo, New York native helped decrease the number of passed balls, wild pitches and errors. He also coordinated, marketed and ran camps and clinics for the Joe Raccuia Baseball Camps, LLC where he increased registrations over 47%.

“I am excited that Rick has joined our staff as he has done a tremendous job at both of his previous coaching positions at good programs. He brings a lot of knowledge and experience to Monmouth. In addition to his track record for developing players, he is an outstanding person,” explained Ehehalt.

After graduation from the University of Buffalo where he was a three year starter, Oliveri joined the staff at Lincoln Memorial University as a graduate assistant mentoring the catching unit, doubling the caught stealing percentage from the year before.

With the Bulls, Oliveri was a four-year catcher earning Most Improved Player honors in the 2006 season. The two-time team captain was awarded the Coaches Award during the 2006-2007 campaign. Oliveri, who graduated with a degree in business administration, also had a two year stint with the Maryland Redbirds in the Cal Ripken Summer Sr. Collegiate Baseball League, appearing in an All-Star game.

Monmouth, which qualified for its 15th Northeast Conference Tournament in 2011, won 36 games a season ago, one win shy of from tying the program record for single-season victories.

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