Jay Sirianni will enter his sixth season as pitching coach with Sam Houston State in 2019, helping lead the Bearkats to record-setting success on the mound while tutoring a pair of Freshman All-Americans and another Third-Team All-American.
Sam Houston pitching set a new program record with 522 strikeouts in 2017. Two of the top-three strikeout season totals in program lore have come with Sirianni as coach including the 2016 staff's 439 strikeouts.
Sam Houston pitching played an integral role in the program's second-straight NCAA Tournament appearances after posting a 1.32 ERA while limiting opponents to a .167 average in four games at the Southland Conference Tournament.
The Bearkats captured their first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2017 and matched the previous program record with 44 victories. The win total marked the first time the Kats had produced consecutive 40-win seasons in Division I history.
The squad finished nationally ranked in all six polls, checking in at No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 18 (D1 Baseball), No. 19 (USA Today Coaches), No. 20 (Baseball America) and No. 22 (Perfect Game).
Sam Houston led the Southland Conference in earned run average (3.80), strikeouts (522) and saves (20) while finishing second in opponent batting average (.258). The success came during a season in which the bullpen featured eight first-year players including six freshmen.
Freshman right-hander Hayden Wesneski was named Freshman All-America after recording a 10-2 record and 3.93 ERA. The Cypress product finished 13th nationally in wins (10) while making 13 starts. Elsewhere, right-handed senior Heath Donica, who was selected in the 21st round of the MLB Draft by the Athletics, set a new Division I program record for strikeouts (109) in route to being named All-America by three publications.
Freshman closer Nick Mikolajchak made an immediate mark on the program, recording 13 saves including the clinching strikeout at the NCAA Lubbock Regional against Texas Tech. The righty recorded three saves at the regional while fanning six in 3 1-3 innings.
Left-handed redshirt junior Riley Cooper was named NCAA Lubbock Regional Most Valuable Player. Cooper picked up three of the squad's four wins at the event.
In 2016, Sam Houston pitching turned in a 3.89 ERA including an impressive 2.95 mark in Southland Conference games. Under Sirianni's direction, right-handed pitcher Riley Gossett (7-0, 2.33 ERA) was named D1Baseball.com Freshman All-America.
The Bearkats, who won the Southland Conference regular season and tournament title for the first time in the same season, also saw right-handed closer Greg Belton become the program's 54th player in program history to be drafted, extending the streak of 11 straight seasons with at least one pick.
With Sirianni's guidance, Belton recorded 13 saves, ranking second in Sam Houston history and 14th nationally. He also tutored Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player, Heath Donica, who finished the year 18th nationally in victories (10) and 20th in complete games (4).
In his first season with the Bearkats, in 2015, Sam Houston posted a 3.54 ERA and ranked 22nd nationally with a 2.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sirianni also tutored MLB Draft selection Andrew Godail, who would be joined by Donica a season later as one of three Kats to strike out 10 batters in a game.
In his two seasons with the Bearkats, five pitchers have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft including Logan Boyd (19th round), Andrew Godail (26th round), Greg Belton (27th round), Ryan Brinley (27th round) and Alex Bisacca (35th round).
Prior to his arrival in Huntsville, Sirianni served as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at UT Arlington for 10 seasons. He mentored more than 21 pitchers that were drafted or signed free agent contracts with MLB organizations.
During Sirianni's tenure, the UT Arlington pitching staff was consistently one of the best in its conference. He helped lead the Mavericks to three conference titles and two NCAA Regional appearances.
“We are very fortunate to get Jay (Sirianni) from UTA. I've admired his work for a long time and he's got 15-plus years of experience. He's recruited, coached and played at the highest levels. I've watched him develop some really good arms over the years so we're very fortunate to get him here,” said Deggs.
Under Sirianni's guidance UT Arlington won a conference title in back-to-back years for the first time in program history. The Mavs made conference tournament appearances in seven of ten seasons.
The 2012 UTA pitching staff finished the season with a 3.89 ERA, the program's best ERA since 1992. His staff led the Southland in ERA in 2009 and followed up to lead the league in strikeouts in 2010.
During his stay in Arlington the Mavericks posted 26 wins over top-25 nationally-ranked opponents with six victories over top-10 ranked teams.
All three of Sirianni's weekend starters were drafted in the top-17 rounds of the 2010 MLB Draft – a first in Southland Conference history.
Before his arrival at UT Arlington, Sirianni spent three seasons as the pitching coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan. While at Barton County, Sirianni helped lead the Cougars to a 113-56 record and qualified for three consecutive NJCAA Region VI Tournaments.
Prior to his time at BCCC, Sirianni spent the summer of 2001 as an assistant coach for the Liberal (Kan.) Bee Jays of the Jayhawk League.
He began his collegiate playing career at Texas A&M before transferring to Nebraska to play for head coach Dave Van Horn.
Following his career at Nebraska, Sirianni was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians. Sirianni began his professional career with the Burlington Indians (Rookie League) and also spent time with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League) and Kingston Indians (Carolina League).
After finishing his pro career in January 2001, Sirianni returned to Nebraska for his final semester and earned a bachelor's degree in history in May 2001. He served as a graduate assistant on the baseball coaching staff and helped the team make it to the College World Series.
Sirianni is a native of Indianola, Iowa, and played his prep career at Indianola High School. He earned 10 varsity letters with four coming in baseball and three each in track and field and football. He was a two-time All-State selection and a three-time All-Conference pick.
Sirianni's father, John, is the Director of Athletics at Division III Simpson College in Indianola after spending 20 years as the school's head baseball coach. His brother, Mike, is head coach of Division II Regis University (Denver).
Sirianni married the former Erin McKernan on Sept. 2, 2006. The couple has two children, Mia, 6, and Eric, 2.