Eric Smith will enter his third season as the recruiting coordinator for the Youngstown State baseball program in 2018-19.
Most recently in 2018, the Penguins surpassed the previous season’s win totals with 18 overall wins and 10 league victories. The 18 total wins were the program’s most since 2010 and the Penguins swept a league opponent for the first time since 2012 when they won three straight over UIC in late March. With a first-round win over Oakland, YSU also notched its first Horizon League Tournament victory since it won the championship in 2014.
In Smith’s second season as the primary hitting coach, the Penguins hit 44 home runs as a team, which ranked second in the league and as the third most in a single season in school history. It also marked the first time in school history they have hit at least 40 homers in back-to-back seasons after hitting 50 in 2017.
The Penguins drew a Horizon League-best 272 walks in 2018, shattering the previous school record of 234 that was set in 2013. YSU also stole 86 stolen bases, which ranked second in the Horizon League and tied for the second most in a single season in school history. It marked the first time the Penguins stole at least 80 bases in a season since 1998.
In 2018, Trey Bridis had 13 home runs, Blaze Glenn had 11 and Andrew Kendrick hit nine. It marked just the second time in school history that three Penguins hit at least nine home runs in a season and the first time that two Penguins hit at least 11 in the same year.
Smith saw five of his hitters garner postseason Horizon League honors in 2018. Trey Bridis was named First-Team All-Horizon League while Blaze Glenn and Jeff Wehler were named to the league’s second team. In addition, Wehler, Nick LaBrasca and Lucas Nasonti were each voted to the All-Freshman Team. Additionally, Bridis was named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the Horizon League Co-Batter of the Week on May 14 after he batted .500 and slugged 1.042 while hitting four home runs for the week.
Bridis finished the season ranked in the top 10 of the Horizon League in eight different offensive categories while Glenn was in the top 10 of nine categories. Glenn also reached base in 46 consecutive games from Feb. 24 through May 15, which was believed to be the longest streak in the country when it ended. Kendrick finished his career with a school record 30 home runs, and 26 of those came in the two years with Smith as his hitting coach.
In addition to organizing recruiting efforts for a large number of newcomers, Smith helped the Penguins make a big jump offensively as their primary hitting coach in 2017. Youngstown State averaged almost a full run more per game than in 2016 and averaged more runs per game than in five of the previous six seasons. YSU batted 31 points higher and hit an eye-popping 38 more home runs than in 2016. After the regular season, only three teams in the country had improved their home run total from 2016 more than Youngstown State.
YSU had two batters be named a national player of the week during the season. Andrew Kendrick was recognized nationally by several media outlets after he hit five home runs and posted 11 RBIs during the opening weekend. Lorenzo Arcuri was a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball on March 13 after he hit three home runs at Morehead State.
Kendrick went on to smash the previous school record for home runs in a season with 17, which was five more than any other Penguin had hit in program history. Sophomore outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Benyo and junior outfielder Trey Bridis both hit eight home runs after each had just one in 2016.
Smith also works defensively with the outfielders and catchers, and YSU set a new school record with a .966 fielding percentage in 2017.
Smith was an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky in 2016, and he has five additional years of experience coaching at the Division I level. He has coached 19 players who have gone on to play professional baseball and one player who has reached the Major Leagues.
With Smith on the staff in 2016, Eastern Kentucky hit 66 home runs and batted .290 as a team. Mandy Alvarez led the nation in hits per game and was named the Co-Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year. Kyle Nowlin, a First-Team All-OVC selection, tied for second among the country's leaders with 21 home runs. Alvarez was a 17th-round draft pick by the New York Yankees, and Nowlin was a 21st-round selection by the Oakland Athletics.
EKU beat two SEC teams for the first time in program history in Smith's season on staff, beating No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 28 Kentucky.
In addition to working with EKU's hitters, Smith directed the Colonels' camps and community service outreach program.
Smith spent the 2013-15 seasons as an assistant coach at Division II Philadelphia University as the program's recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. During his first season, the Rams reached the playoffs for the first time in six years.
In 2011 and 2012, Smith was an assistant coach and camp director at La Salle. The Explorers were the Big 5 Team of the Year in 2011 with a 28-26 record.
Smith got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Mount St. Mary's, during the 2008-10 seasons. He served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Mountaineers and helped the 2008 squad make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and play No. 1 North Carolina. Mount St. Mary's was also strong academically with Smith on the staff, ranking in the top 10 percent in the country in team GPA.
Smith was one of Mount St. Mary's all-time best hitters. He ended his career as the all-time leader in hits (198), runs (127), RBIs (139) and total bases (304), and he still holds the career record for times being hit by a pitch (33). A three-time second-team All-NEC selection, he batted .341 over his four-year career.
Smith graduated from Mount St. Mary's in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in business. He and his wife, Amanda, live in Akron.