Chris Ramirez | Head Coach
Chris Ramirez was named the head baseball coach on June 5, 2019. Ramirez comes to Hickory from the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), where he was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II National Coach of the Year in 2018. He will become the 20th head coach in Lenoir-Rhyne baseball history.
At UIS, Ramirez inherited a program that won 30 games in the three years prior to him taking over and built it into one of the top programs in the nation. The Prairie Stars reached back-to-back NCAA Division II Regionals and secured a spot in the Super Regional this year. The 2018 team was ranked as high as fourth in the nation and its 47-9 mark was the best in team history. In 2019, the Prairie Stars were ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation and LHP Austin Dean became the programs fifth All-American in the past three seasons. In his final three years at UIS, Ramirez posted a 121-47-1 record, including a 29-game winning streak in 2018. He leaves UIS with 199 wins, the most in program history.
Ramirez led UIS to countless program milestones, including winning the first Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Division Championship Title in 2018, contending for a GLVC Tournament Championship in 2019, hosting NCAA Regionals in both 2018 and 2019, garnering the programs first All-American honors, and posting the first national ranking for the program.
Coming into the 2019 season, Ramirez coached 29 all-conference players, including 13 first team selections, eight all-region performers and four All-Americans. His 2018 team boasted the best offense in the country, leading Division II with 1.86 home runs per game, a .581 slugging percentage and 9.4 runs per game. Additionally, they led the nation in hits allowed per nine innings and led the GLVC in ERA, strikeouts per nine innings and strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
On top of his National Coach of the Year, Ramirez was awarded Conference and Regional Coach of the Year honors. In addition, Ramirez coached Cole Taylor who went on to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, becoming the first UIS player to sign with a MLB-affiliated organization.
Along with success on the field, Ramirez was instrumental in developing the UIS Baseball stadium into one of the best in the region. Prior to Ramirez’s watch, the team competed at local high schools and community parks. Within the first year, Ramirez spearheaded an initiative to develop an on-campus facility that eventually expanded to include new dugouts, a new backstop, scoreboard, state-of-the-art batting cages and a turf infield.
Prior to UIS, Ramirez spent six seasons as a Division I assistant coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He served as the recruiting coordinator and ran the offense as the third base coach and helped turn the program around. The Islanders made their first ever Southland Conference Tournament in their first season as a program and Ramirez coached two freshmen All-Americans and 10 of his recruits were selected in the MLB Draft.
Ramirez played at the Division I level, spending two seasons as an outfielder at High Point University and earning a spot on the Big South All-Academic Team in 2005. Ramirez graduated from High Point in 2005 with a degree in business administration.
Adam Skonieczki | Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator
Adam Skonieczki enters his first season as the Pitching Coach / Recruiting Coordinator at Lenoir-Rhyne.
Prior to coming to Hickory, Skonieczki was the Head Coach at Southern Vermont College from November 2017-June 2019. In his first season at the helm, Southern Vermont finished tied for third place in the NECC and made the playoffs for only the second time in eight seasons. Skonieczki coached six All-Conference performers and one National Player of the Week. The Mountaineers excelled in the classroom as well, posting a team GPA of 3.3.
Before his time at Southern Vermont, he served as the Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Buffalo for two years. Skonieczki coached two All-MAC First Team players and helped four players get drafted or sign MLB contracts. It was the second stint in Buffalo for Skonieczki who was a standout OF for the Bulls and graduated in 2010. The Binghamton, N.Y. native has his name peppered throughout the program’s record book. Upon graduating, he had registered the second-most games played (193), the third-most hits (231), and the third-most total bases (320). He still owns the team’s top mark of the most runs scored in a game (6) and had the most runs scored in a single season (50) before that was eclipsed in 2010 and then again in 2012. For his career, he was a four-year outfielder for the Bulls—starting in 186 of the 193 games in which he appeared.
Skonieczki also held Assistant Coaching positions at Georgetown College and Texas A&M Corpus Christ. At TAMUCC, he helped the squad to a school-record 37 wins and a top-100 finish in the Division I national poll. Three players from that team were selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Skonieczki and his wife, Shayna, have two children: their daughter, Isla, and son, Cash.
Derek Beasley | Assistant Coach / Pitching Coach
Derek Beasley enters his first season as Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach at Lenoir-Rhyne. Beasley was in the Oakland A's farm system from 2014-17 and posted a 2.93 ERA in the New York Penn League.
Beasley comes to Hickory after a successful playing and coaching career at USC Aiken. As the program's pitching coach, the Pacers finished second in the Peach Belt Conference in each of Beasley's two seasons and Christian Aragon was named a Second Team All-Conference pitcher and would go on to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. In 2019, all three of Beasley's weekend starters were drafted in the MLB Draft (Mitch Spence - 10th round, Zach Rafuse - 37th round, Garvin Alston Jr. - 37th round). Rafuse garnered Second Team All-Conference honors while Spence was the overall strikeout leader in the conference and was an All-Conference first teamer. The Pacers were first in the PBC in strikeouts and K/9 innings while allowing the fewest hits and the lowest batting average against under Beasley in 2019. In 2018, Aiken led the league in saves, earned runs, hits and batting average against.
As a pitcher from 2011-14, Beasley went 29-13 with a 3.65 ERA and struck out 292 batters in 311 career innings. In 2014, Beasley ranked third in NCAA Division II in games started (15) and his 52 career starts still stands as the program record. He ranks eighth in the history of the Peach Belt Conference in strikeouts and wins and fifth in games started. He was a two-time All-Conference selection and was the team MVP as a senior. In 2013, Beasley won the Mr. Pacer award for the Baseball team and was All-Region that same year.
Matt Risdon | Assistant Coach
Matt Risdon enters his first season as an Assistant Coach at Lenoir-Rhyne. Risdon was a Division I catcher at Western Illinois for two seasons and has served on the coaching staff for the Fighting Leathernecks for August 2015-July 2019.
Rison began his coaching career as the Director of Baseball Operations with WIU in August 2015 and served in that role for one season before being named the program's Graduate Assistant. After finishing his Master's in Sports Management in May 2017, Risdon earned the title of Assistant Coach prior to the 2018 campaign. Risdon was primarily responsible for catchers and assisted with hitting and infielders while also serving as the third base coach. Risdon helped with defensive positioning and discussed hitting approach with players during game review. Risdon also helped with administrative duties such as: travel, team meals, fundraising, scouting and monitoring student-athlete academic eligibility.
Risdon played in 40 career games for Western Illinois. He earned his Bachelor's in Exercise Science in 2015.
David Newcomer | Graduate Assistant
David Newcomer enters his second season as Lenoir-Rhyne's Graduate Assistant Coach.
This will be Newcomer's sixth year in the LR Baseball program as he played 184 games for the Bears from 2014-17. The Archdale, N.C. native was a career .298 hitter for the Bears, including a career-high .335 average as a senior. Newcomer scored 104 career runs and pounded out 193 hits over his four years. The infielder had 42 career doubles and finished in the top 40 in the nation in doubles per game (0.38) as a senior where he finished with 18 two-baggers.