Mike Birkbeck has long been recognized as one of the top pitching coaches in the country. So it should come as no surprise to Kent State baseball followers that Birkbeck was recently named the 2012 Baseball America/American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year.
Birkbeck will begin his 17th season as the Golden Flashes pitching coach with the start of the 2013 season. Under his tenure, 37 pitchers have been drafted or signed into professional baseball. He has also mentored 28 All-MAC, 14 All-MAC Tournament, nine All-Region and nine All-American honorees.
Before joining the Kent State staff, Birkbeck played 14 years of professional baseball, including stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets.
Birkbeck is a member of the Orrville Sports Hall of Fame, University of Akron Sports Hall of Fame, Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame, the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame, the Richmond Braves 10th Anniversary All-Diamond Team and Richmond's All-Century Team.
Behind four individual champions, Kent State won the Navy Classic Saturday at Wesley Brown Field House in Annapolis, Md. The Golden Flashes finished first of nine teams with 115.5 points, just ahead of host Navy (109.5).
Flashes fifth-year seniors Dustin Kilgore and Casey Newburg remained unbeaten, and were joined on the top of the podium by Caleb Marsh and Stevie Mitcheff.
For Marsh (165 pounds), it was his first competition of the season coming off an injury. The sophomore went 4-0 with a major decision and defeated Navy's Jacob Schalles 9-5 in the finals.
Kilgore (197) pinned all three of his opponents, including a first-period fall against second-seeded Paul Rands of Navy.
Newburg (184) went 4-0 with a pin and two major decisions. He moved to 12-0 on the season with a 5-3 victory over Navy's Mason Bailey in the final.
Mitcheff earned his first title of the season, going 4-0 with two major decisions. It was an all-Kent State final at 125 as Mitcheff edged freshman Alfredo Gray 6-5.
Redshirt freshman Nick Carr made another finals appearance at 149, where he was topped by Navy's Zach Basich 4-3. Carr went 3-1 on the day with a pin and a major decision.
Redshirt freshmen Sam Wheeler also went 3-1 to take second. After three comfortable victories, including a technical fall, Wheeler dropped the 174-pound final bout to Ohio's Cody Walters 7-4.
The Flashes will take next weekend off from competition before heading to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Invitational Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Kent State Director of Golf/Head Coach Herb Page has announced the signing of Josh Whalen (Napanee, Ontario) to a National Letter of Intent. Whalen will join the Golden Flashes as a freshman for the 2013-14 season.
"Josh is an accomplished golfer who plays and manages his game at a high level," said Page, who led the Golden Flashes to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championship in 2012. "What I really love about him is the fact that he is a winner. He is rated as one of the top junior golfers in Canada, and his accomplishments at the local, provincial and national levels back up that ranking. We have had a lot of success here at Kent State recruiting top amateur talent from Canada, and Josh fits that same mold."
In 2012 Whalen won a USGA Junior Amateur Qualifier at Aurora Country Club with rounds of 70-71. He also tied for medalist honors at a PGA Canadian Tour "Chase The Dream" Qualifier Tournament with rounds of 70-70. His "Chase The Dream" victory earned him a spot at the Canadian Professional Tour's Great Waterway Classic this past September, where he finished as the top amateur in the 126-man field.