Gamecocks hand baseball program over to Holbrook

Chad Holbrook has been promoted to head baseball coach, athletics director Ray Tanner announced today. Holbrook replaces Tanner, who was named athletics director on Friday.

“We are fortunate to have Coach Holbrook as an integral part of our program,” said Tanner. “He is an exceptional coach, recruiter and mentor for our players. The job he has done and continues to do is exemplary. He is one of the top coaches in the country and he is an outstanding ambassador for the University of South Carolina.”

Holbrook recently completed his fourth season as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the South Carolina baseball program. Holbrook, served as hitting instructor, overseeing the Gamecock offense, including base running and the short game and was the third base coach. He also worked with the outfielders. Holbrook came to the Gamecock program in July of 2008 after serving 15 seasons as a member of the University of North Carolina coaching staff. Holbrook was recently honored as the 2011 ABCA/Baseball America Assistant Coach of the Year.

A tremendous evaluator of talent, Holbrook recently was named the No. 10 best recruiter in all of college sports by ESPNU & ESPN The Magazine in the publication’s 2011 January edition. The list was put together in conjunction with three-dozen experts who were asked the question: Who are the top 20 recruiters in college sports? Holbrook was the only baseball coach on the list.

Holbrook’s offensive prowess has made an immediate impact on the South Carolina baseball program in his first four seasons. His guidance was instrumental in helping the Gamecocks to back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011 at the College World Series as well as a national runner-up finish in 2012.

Holbrook helped in the development of two-time All-America Christian Walker, who led the Gamecocks in all three Triple Crown categories the last two years. He finished 2012 hitting .321 (77-for-240) with 11 homers and 55 RBI as well as a .450 on-base percentage and a .525 slugging percentage. Walker was a fourth round selection by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2012 MLB Draft. Walker was named to the CWS All-Tournament team for a third time. He tied a CWS record for hits also in a career as he notched 28 that put him alongside Dustin Ackley of North Carolina (2007-09), ironically also a player that Holbrook recruited and coached while in Chapel Hill.

Holbrook helped bridge together a new crop of Gamecocks in the 2012 season as he molded newcomers Tanner English, Grayson Greiner and Joey Pankake into SEC All-Freshman honorees. All three would factor into Carolina’s successful season. The group of newcomers was also rated the top recruiting class in the country in 2011 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 6 in the nation by Baseball America.

Holbrook played a key role in 2011 MLB supplemental draft selection Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Gamecock career. In 2010 Bradley was a 2010 All-SEC selection and College World Series Most Outstanding Player. That season, Holbrook helped to oversee an offense that peaked in the postseason with a .309 batting average in 12 postseason contests. Evan Marzilli was the team’s top postseason hitter with a .419 average (18-for-43) with Walker right behind him at .389 (21-for-54) and Bradley hitting .348 with four HR and 17 RBI. Carolina finished the season with a .300 team batting average as well as a .392 on-base percentage. The squad’s 734 hits were second highest in the conference with the team also tallying 298 walks, 14th highest in the country.

In 2009, Holbrook’s first season, the Gamecocks finished with a team batting average of .310 on the year, the highest average in the last nine seasons, along with an improved on-base percentage of .394 and a .528 slugging percentage. Carolina was fifth in the nation with 109 home runs. Among the players he tutored that first year were Freshman All-America Jackie Bradley Jr. and 2009 All-SEC selections, Justin Dalles, Nick Ebert, Bobby Haney and DeAngelo Mack.

Prior to joining the Gamecock program, Holbrook worked for 15 seasons on the North Carolina coaching staff. While at UNC, the Tar Heels made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances including four NCAA Super Regionals and three trips to the College World Series. The 2007 squad also captured an ACC championship, the first in Chapel Hill since 1990 when Holbrook was a freshman player.

At UNC, Holbrook mentored several top players including 2008 second-team All-America outfielder Tim Fedroff, third-team All-America first baseman Dustin Ackley and third-team All-America second baseman Kyle Seager. Ackley also earned third-team All-America honors in 2007 and was both Baseball America & Collegiate Baseball’s Freshman of the Year. Ackley was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.

In addition, Holbrook was instrumental in recruiting current Major League Baseball players Daniel Bard, Chris Iannetta, Andrew Miller, Seager and Ackley to UNC.

As recruiting coordinator for the North Carolina program, Holbrook put together consecutive top 10 recruiting classes seasons that helped the Tar Heels in making three consecutive College World Series appearances. From 2006-2008, North Carolina led the nation in wins with 54 in 2006, 57 in 2007 and 54 in 2008. PG Cross Checker ranked his last UNC recruiting class No. 3 in the nation. Holbrook’s 2007 class ranked fourth in the nation by Baseball America with his 2006 class selected eighth in the country. Baseball America also ranked his 2004 class 11th in the nation with the publication naming the Tar Heels recruiting class of 2003 as the No. 1 group in the country. That 2003 class also tied for first in Collegiate Baseball’s recruiting rankings with South Carolina.

Under Holbrook’s eye, UNC batted .324 as a team in the 2008 season and posted six of the top seven hitting seasons in Tar Heel history. The Tar Heels led the nation in hits in 2007 as well with 820 to finish the year.

The school record for batting average in Chapel Hill was also set under Holbrook’s direction in 2002 when the Tar Heels finished with a .325 mark.

Holbrook served as undergraduate assistant coach in 1994 and was promoted to full-time assistant in the fall of 1994. Holbrook served as assistant coach up to 2007 when he earned a promotion to associate head coach. Holbrook also worked one summer in the Cape Cod League as head coach of the Harwich Mariners in 1997 where he led them to the league’s Eastern Division championship.

Before joining the North Carolina staff, Holbrook played for the Tar Heels from 1990-93. He was a second-team All-ACC selection as a senior when he .353 at the plate. He also earned all-tournament team honors in 1993 at the NCAA Central I Regional in College Station, Texas, where he hit .565 (13-for-23) with three doubles and two triples in five games.

Holbrook sits second all-time on the UNC list for triples with 14 in his career as well as 40 stolen bases. His stolen bases record was broke by Brian Roberts, who played for UNC from 97-98 before transferring to South Carolina.

Holbrook is a 1994 graduate of North Carolina with a degree in physical education. He is the son of Eddie Holbrook, former head men’s basketball coach for Gardner-Webb and Furman.

Holbrook and his wife, the former Jennifer Hilliard, were married in August of 2000. They have two sons, Reece, who was born on May 4, 2002, and Cooper, who was born on June 14, 2004.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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  1. […] Esposito as assistant coach, and Brian Buscher as volunteer assistant coach.Photo Credit: ESPN GrandStrandSportsReport In Baseball, Sports Avery Wilks Posts Twitter Facebook Avery is a sophomore at USC studying Print […]

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