After an extensive search that drew a number of high-profile candidates, Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee confirmed that the university has hired St. Mary’s coach Eric Valenzuela as the next coach of the Dirtbags.
“Being the head baseball coach at Long Beach State is a dream,” Valenzuela said. “I’m excited to be part of the history.”
“Eric is a high character guy who’s had a lot of success at a school where he didn’t have a lot of resources, and we’re really excited to see what he can do,” said Fee.
Valenzuela is a long-time Southern California pitching coach, and turned the St. Mary’s College in the last six years. The Gaels had four consecutive 30-win seasons after recording just three seasons at .500 or better in the last 22 years. St. Mary’s made its first ever NCAA Regional appearance in 2016.
“He’s from outside the family, but he understands the culture and what it means,” Fee said. “He’ll have his own fingerprints on what’s been built but he understands what the program represents and the legacy of Dirtbags baseball.”
Valenzuela was an All-American at Bishop Amat High School, and reached the NCAA postseason with Arizona State in 1998. He started coaching at the University of San Diego, and was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for Tony Gywnn at San Diego State.
“We had a great pool of candidates, interviewed five people, only one of whom was not a sitting head coach,” Fee said. “We had candidates who were all winners on the field and in the classroom, people with a really good body of work.”
“The interview process was awesome and very personal, Andy and his team asked great questions,” Valenzuela said.