The Word on the Herd - April 7, 2016
Piepenbrink directed Marshall to its best three-year win total (62), from 2000-02, since Jack Cook's 1979-81 teams also grabbed 62 wins in that span. His commitment and enthusiasm for the program and university has won over both Thundering Herd baseball fans and Marshall administrators since his hiring.
On April 27, 2003, Piepenbrink became just the second coach in Marshall history to record 100 wins when the Herd defeated Bowling Green. In 2004, he helped Marshall tie the all-time school win record (27) set by Cook's 1978 team that went to the NCAA Tournament. Piepenbrink took over the Marshall baseball program on April 2, 1998, after the resignation of former coach Craig Antush. After serving as an interim head coach for the final 30 games that year, Piepenbrink was given the job on a full-time basis. Prior to that, he served as the Herd's top assistant for three years.
Piepenbrink went 9-21 as interim head coach in 1998, including a 9-5 victory over Virginia Tech in his first game. Under Piepenbrink's tutelage that season, first baseman Tom Kuempel was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year after winning the conference's triple crown. It was the Herd's first triple crown winner or conference MVP in the program's history.
Under Piepenbrink, a young Thundering Herd squad posted a 12-43-1 record in 1999. Out of the 11 position players that appeared in at least half of the Herd's games, seven were underclassmen. The pitching staff was equally as green with five of the nine pitchers who made 10 or more appearances either freshmen or sophomores.
During the 2000 season the Marshall baseball program continued to make strides. The 21 victories posted by the club was the second-highest win total in 10 seasons and the team finished the season with nine wins in its final 16 games, coming mostly against Mid-American Conference competition.
In 2001, the program continued to improve with a 24-29 regular season record, which tied for the third-most victories in a season in Marshall history. In addition, Marshall found itself in the thick of the race for the MAC Tournament for the first time since joining the league and was not eliminated from tournament contention until the next-to-last weekend of the season.
During the 2001 season, virtually every offensive record in school history was smashed, including the school records for at bats, runs, hits, home runs, extra-base hits and runs batted in. Senior first baseman Jason Brooks, in addition to earning All-MAC honors, was a second team All-American after drilling a school-record 23 home runs. He also participated in the NCAA Home Run Challenge at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
2004 brought about even more success as the team tied a school record with 27 victories. After starting the season 1-7, the Herd rebounded to go 26-20 over the final 46 games and finish with a 27-27 record. Over the final 10 games of the season, Piepenbrink guided the Herd to an 8-2 record. Marshall won its final four games of the season to tie the 27-win record.
Last season, the Herd struggled through an injury-plagued season and finished its final season in the MAC with a 16-34 record. The young Herd battled but fell just short in many games, going 4-12 in one-run contests.
Piepenbrink joined the Marshall coaching staff after a standout playing career under Jack Cook and Howard McCann from 1987-90. During his career, he set school records in doubles (41), runs scored (150) and at-bats (480). He still stands second on the all-time school records charts in runs scored and total bases (308) and third in doubles and walks (98).
Piepenbrink was a first-team All-Southern Conference performer in 1990 and was named to the all-tournament team that same season after guiding Marshall to a semifinal berth in the league tournament.
Piepenbrink is married to the former Kelly Crawford of Smoot, W.Va. The couple has two children, Rachel Leigh (7) and Grace Catherine (6).