New CSUEB baseball coach looks to build on success

Benjamin Conroy,

The CSU East Bay Baseball team has some new blood this year.

Coach Mike Cummins is the new interim head coach of the Pioneer Baseball team for this upcoming season. Previously, Cummins spent six years as head coach at San Francisco State and spent last season as San Jose State’s Assistant baseball coach.

Last season was the best in Pioneer history with the team going all the way to the NCAA West Regionals. The team’s overall record was 33-22, with a 21-16 Conference record. The record year was lead by Seniors Rudy Navarro, who was named conference player of the year, and Myles Babitt, who was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 25th round of this year’s MLB draft.

Head coach Bob Ralston and associate head coach Darren Lewis stepped down on Aug. 11. In doing so, the men’s baseball team became the seventh program to lose their head coach under the former Director of Athletics Joan McDermott. Ralston and Lewis followed women’s head coaches of basketball, track, cross country and softball, and men’s head coaches of soccer and swimming. All have either stepped down or left to pursue other career opportunities. It is still unclear why Ralston and Lewis stepped down as coaches.

According to Cummins, a native of Monterey, got an early start in his baseball career as his father and grandfather both played and coached baseball. Wanting to be like his dad, Cummins picked up a bat and started swinging. Being around baseball from a young age helped him fall in love with the game. Cummins was a catcher at Santa Clara University from 1977 to 1979. After graduating, he signed a contract with the Salem Senators, a Class A team in the Northwest League. He batted .302 and led the team in RBI’s in his only season with the Salem Senators.

After retiring from the team, Cummins wanted a way to stay in the game and saw no better way to do that than to follow in the footsteps of his Father and Grandfather and coach. He thought his knowledge, skills as a communicator and teacher, and staying up with the newest trends would all help him have a long successful career, according to Cummins.

Cummins started his coaching career at Buchser High School in Santa Clara where he took the team to a second place finish in their conference in his first year coaching there. The new coach has been coaching college baseball ever since.

In addition to coaching at SJSU and SFSU, he spent 21 years at his alma-mater Santa Clara University, 17 as an assistant coach and four as a head coach. He spent six years as a head coach at Walla Walla Community College in Washington and prior to that took up the assistant coach’s job at Washington State.

With a lot of talented returning players, 19 to be exact,  it could potentially be another great season for the Pioneers but it will still take a lot of hard work to get back to the Regional. Anytime your team advances to playoffs, other teams in your division will be bringing their best game any time you play them. Other teams will be looking to prove that they can beat the best from last year and will be looking to prove it.

Being the new kid in town always come with its challenges but Cummins feels that he is up to the task. He predicts that his biggest challenge will be to get everyone on the same page as him and the rest of the coaching staff. He also needs to quickly determine where everyone fits best on the team. There is always that transition period where everyone has to get used to each other when a new coach takes over. New systems are put into place and the players, as well as coaches, need time to adjust and learn. The team has started fall ball as well as practices and conditioning.

The first game is Friday Feb. 3 on the road in Oakland against the Academy of Art.