Pitching has more or less been the reason the Arizona Wildcats baseball team has failed to reach the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, but head coach Jay Johnson is reportedly making a power move to fix it.
Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball is reporting that UA is hiring Oregon State pitching coach Nate Yeskie as its new pitching coach/associate head coach, a move that Rogers describes as a “shot in the arm” for the program.
Yeskie will fill the void left by former UA assistant Sergio Brown, who left for Cal State Fullerton earlier in the summer. Meanwhile, current UA pitching coach Dave Lawn will stay on staff as a “defensive coordinator,” per Michael Lev of the Arizona Daily Star:
Significant hire for Arizona. Star has learned Dave Lawn will stay on staff as defensive coordinator. Should all become officially official Tuesday. https://t.co/EHRUO6zh5w
— Michael Lev (@MichaelJLev) July 22, 2019
Yeskie has been OSU’s pitching coach since 2009 and was Collegiate Baseball’s national pitching coach of the year in 2017 when the Beavers advanced to the College World Series semifinals. They wound up winning the whole thing in 2018, and have arguably been the top program in the West over the last decade or so.
Per our friends at Building The Dam, it became clear Yeskie would not be returning to OSU after longtime head coach Pat Casey opted to step down after the 2019 season and Yeskie was not tabbed as his replacement:
After Casey’s departure, Yeskie was considered to be one of the top candidates to take the Oregon State coaching job, before Pat Bailey was given the interim position. After one season under Bailey, Yeskie again interviewed with the Beavers for the head coaching job. Ultimately, former OSU catcher and Minor League coach Mitch Canham was given the job, and rumors began to swirl that Yeskie would look for another opportunity to advance his career.
In his 11 years at Oregon State, Yeskie has coached some incredible pitchers. Andrew Moore, Matt Boyd, Jace Fry, Luke Heimlich and Kevin Abel are only some of the players that emerged under Yeskie’s tutelage.
Per Rogers, Arizona made a big financial commitment to land Yeskie, giving him a salary in the “elite SEC school type of range.”
Arizona missed the NCAA Tournament last season despite having one of the top offenses in the country, so that kind of investment could quickly pay dividends for the Wildcats, who posted a 6.21 ERA, the second-worst mark in the Pac-12.