Mike Sweeney is entering his ninth season as the pitching coach for the Minutemen and second as associate head coach. He serves as the team's recruiting coordinator. In addition to recruiting, his main focus is coaching pitchers on mechanics and fundamentals. Sweeney is also responsible for strength and conditioning, scouting and ordering equipment. He organizes and implements instructional clinics as well as overseeing game and practice facility maintenance and management.
In 2012, Sweeney coached right-hander Joe Popielarczyk to multiple honors, including the program's second Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year award. Popielarczyk finished as the A-10 leader in earned run average and his 1.66 mark ranked seventh in all of Division I. Sweeney also coached Dennis Torres, whose transformation from third baseman to pitcher was well-documented by the local and regional media. Torres was selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Baltimore Orioles in the 28th round and turned pro following his junior season.
Two more Minutemen pitchers joined the professional ranks in 2010 as Nick Serino was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 37th round and Bryan Leigh signed with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent.
In 2009, Sweeney guided the UMass pitching staff to a school-record 387 strikeouts and the most wins since 2001. He coached Mitchell Clegg to All-Northeast Region and All-New England honors as Clegg posted one of the best winning percentages in program history, going 7-1 in his senior campaign. Clegg was later selected by the Washington Nationals with the first pick of the 21st round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
In addition to Clegg, Leigh, Serino and Torres, Sweeney also coached former Minuteman Matt Torra, who is currently playing professionally in the Washington Nationals minor league system and earned an invite to the 2013 World Baseball Classic as a part of Team Italy. Torra led the nation in ERA (1.14) in 2005 and garnered All-America honors before being chosen 31st overall in the supplemental first round of the MLB draft.
Before coming to UMass, Sweeney had been the pitching coach for Amherst College for three years, where he worked closely under world-renowned pitching "guru" Bill Thurston.
From 2003-07, Sweeney served as the manager of the Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats of the NECBL. His team won the NECBL Championship and Sweeney was named Manager/Coach of the Year in 2003. His five-year record with the Swamp Bats was a combined 127-83, with a playoff record of 12-8. He also has coaching experience as the pitching coach for the North Adams (Mass.) Steeplecats of the NECBL.
Sweeney played three years of professional baseball, with two of them coming in the New York Mets organization. He also played one year for the New Jersey Jackals of the Northern League, helping the Jackals to their first-ever Northern League title in 2001.
Sweeney graduated from Amherst College in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Sweeney was a two-sport standout at Amherst, helping quarterback the football team to a pair of Little Three and NESCAC co-championships. He also pitched the baseball team to a trio of Little Three titles, three NCAA post-season berths and an appearance in the NCAA Regional Final. Sweeney finished his collegiate career with a 21-3 record pitching record, was a two-time All-New England and All-NESCAC selection and was voted Team MVP as a senior.
Sweeney resides in Sunderland with his wife, Charity and son, Keagan.
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