MSU pitching coach honored as Division I’s top assistant after Bears shatter school records for strikeouts, victories in landmark season
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Evans, who was named D1Baseball.com's National Assistant Coach of the Year in July, led a Bears staff that featured three All-Americans who helped power MSU to a school-record 49 victories and the program's second NCAA Division I Regional crown. Under Evans's tutelage, the Bears paced the Missouri Valley Conference and ranked among the nation's top teams in earned run average (2.91), strikeouts (553), WHIP (1.22) and shutouts (9), holding the opposition to three runs or less in 37 of their 61 games.
The Bears (49-12) set program records for wins and strikeouts en route to capturing both the MVC regular-season and tournament titles and sweeping the Springfield Regional field. Several MSU hurlers enjoyed banner seasons under the direction of Evans, including junior consensus All-American Matt Hall, who shattered the Valley's 33-year-old single-season record for strikeouts with a Division I-best 171 punchouts while matching the Bears' program standard for victories (12). Fellow junior All-America pick Jon Harris flourished in his third year as a Bear as well, notching an 8-2 record, a 2.45 ERA and 116 strikeouts before becoming the fifth MSU pitcher taken in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft in June, going 29th overall to Toronto. He also became the fifth Bear to be named MVC Pitcher of the Year and was a Golden Spikes Award nominee. Sophomore closer Bryan Young completed the triumvirate of Missouri State All-America pitchers, notching a club-record 16 saves to go along with a 7-0 mound mark and 1.30 ERA. The right-hander was one of five finalists for the NCBWA's National Stopper of the Year Award.
The landmark 2015 season continued a string of unprecedented success for Evans and his Missouri State pitching pupils. Over the past decade, Evans has helped develop four of the highest MLB Draft picks in MSU history, with Brett Sinkbeil going 19th overall in 2006, Ross Detwiler as the sixth overall pick in 2007 and Pierce Johnson as the 43rd overall pick in 2012 prior to Harris's selection this season. In fact, Evans has mentored five first-rounders in the last 14 seasons, including John Rheinecker, who went 37th overall in 2001.
A total of 58 hurlers have signed pro contracts under Evans' tutelage, including at least one in each of his 27 seasons with 10 advancing to the Major Leagues. Additionally, Evans has seen three Bears selected to pitch for Team USA: Jarrod Mays (1995), Bob Zimmermann (2001 and 2002) and Detwiler (2006). Furthermore, MSU pitchers have been tabbed for first-team all-conference honors 22 times during Evans's tenure in Springfield, with 11 different hurlers claiming All-America recognition.
In 2012, Evans guided a dominant Bears' pitching staff that posted the best team ERA (2.57) in the country, while ranking fifth in Division I with 537 strikeouts. Both marks shattered previous MSU team records, as did the Bears' 11 shutouts, which also led the nation. Additionally, sophomore Nick Petree netted numerous All-America honors, as well as the first national player of the year citation for a baseball Bear when Collegiate Baseball tabbed the Clinton, Mo., product its 2012 Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year after he finished 10-4 with the nation's lowest individual earned run average (1.01). The Bears' 2013 staff was nearly as impressive, posting a 3.12 ERA for the season, good for the third-best in program history.
Prior to joining the Bears' coaching staff, Evans guided Rend Lake to a 201-95 mark in three years which included two Illinois juco sectional titles.
A native of Granite City, Ill., Evans played football and baseball at South High School. He pitched his American Legion teams to back-to-back state runner-up finishes and had a 50-8 combined career record in high school and American Legion. He gained Illinois all-state honors in baseball while in high school and, in 2000, he was inducted in the Granite City Sports Hall of Fame.
Evans was 18-7 at Southern Illinois before graduating from SIU in 1981. His 0.84 ERA as a sophomore was third in NCAA Division I and he tossed a no-hitter against SIU Edwardsville. Additonally, his nine career saves still rank sixth all-time at SIU.
Evans was head coach at Shawnee Junior College and assisted at RLC two years before becoming head coach. A Central Illinois Collegiate League and Cape Cod League hurler in his own playing days, he returned to Cape Cod in 1988 as pitching coach at Yarmouth-Dennis.
Evans has three children; Kyle, Kameron and Kassidy.