Matt Williams named assistant baseball coach at Liberty
Liberty baseball coach Scott Jackson has announced the addition of Matt Williams as an assistant coach. Williams will serve as the Flames’ pitching coach and assist in all aspects of the Liberty baseball program.
Williams joins the Liberty baseball staff after spending the past year as the pitching coach for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the Class A Affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Williams joined the San Diego organization in January of 2019 as an international scout, before being named the pitching coach for the TinCaps.
Under Williams, the TinCaps staff had the best strikeout to walk ratio in the Midwest League and the fewest walks per nine innings.
Leading the way for Fort Wayne was 19-year old left-hander Joey Cantillo, who currently leads the league in wins (seven), ERA (2.06), strikeouts (115), Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (EFIP). In addition, right-hander Gabe Mosser had the best strikeout per walk ratio (6.3) in the league, before earning promotion to Class A Advanced Lake Elsmore.
Under Williams’ guidance, 19-year old left-hander Ryan Weathers and 20-year old right-hander were chosen Midwest League All-Stars.
A native of Lancaster, S.C., Williams was the pitching coach at UNC Wilmington from 2014-18. The Seahawks appeared in three NCAA Regionals during his five seasons at UNCW. In addition, Williams saw 15 pitchers selected in the Major League Baseball Draft and three of his pitchers named CAA Pitcher of the Year during his tenure.
Led by one of the best bullpens in the nation in 2018, UNCW captured the CAA championship for the first time since 2015. Under Williams’ guidance, the Seahawks finished the year ranked in the top 30 nationally in ERA (26th – 3.50), hits allowed per nine innings (18th – 7.71) and WHIP (30th – 1.28).
Three pitchers from that staff were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft. Relievers Austin Warner, Clark Costa and Austin Easter each heard their names called by major league teams. Warren, who was a CAA All-Tournament selection, was chosen by the Los Angeles Angels in the sixth round after posting an 8-0 mark and compiling an ERA of 1.75 in a staff-leading 28 appearances. Cota, an All-CAA selection and NCBWA Stopper of the Year semifinalist, was selected by the Oakland A’s in the 10th round, while the Toronto Blue Jays choose Easter in the 31st round.
In 2017, Williams saw Alex Royalty became the third Seahawk pitcher to be named CAA Pitcher of the Year during his tenure. Royalty posted a 3.20 ERA and a conference-leading 9-2 record. In addition, Williams oversaw the emergence of Zarion Sharpe, who recorded a 6-1 mark as a freshman. In June’s MLB draft, right-hander Josh Roberson was selected in the 12th round by the Miami Marlins.
The Williams’ 2016 Seahawks staff featured CAA Pitcher of the Year Ryan Foster. The first team All-CAA honoree finished the year second in the nation with 13 wins, a program record. Foster anchored a staff that also included CAA All-Rookie selection Royalty, who went 8-2 as a freshman and reliever Austin Magestro, a third-team All-CAA selection, who posted a 2.59 ERA and struck out 66 batters in 48 2/3 innings.
Two UNCW pitchers were taken in the 2016 MLB Draft. The Atlanta Braves took Taylor Hyssong in the eighth round, while the Colorado Rockies selected Jared Gesell in the 23rd round.
Williams’ impact on the UNCW program was evident in 2015 as the Seahawks won the conference tournament title and advanced to the NCAA tournament. The UNCW pitching staff compiled a 2.48 ERA and held opponents to a .238 batting average over seven postseason games. His staff also amassed 493 strikeouts to eclipse the program record.
Four of the five Seahawks selected in the 2015 MLB draft were off Williams’ pitching staff, as Jordan Ramsey, Evan Phillips, Nick Monroe and Will Shepley were each selected and moved onto the professional ranks.
Ramsey made a successful move to the bullpen as a senior under the guidance of Williams. Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, Ramsey led the staff with an 8-2 record and a 1.69 ERA. He also tied for the conference lead with seven saves and paced the league with 28 appearances. Ramsey was a first-team All-CAA selection and also earned ABCA All-America honors.
In Williams’ first season at UNCW, Mat Batts was named 2014 CAA Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season and led the league with 105 strikeouts. Batts was one of four Seahawk pitchers selected in the 2014 MLB Draft. Batts, who went in the 17th round to Minnesota, was joined by Kelly Secrest (10th round, NY Mets), Christian MacDonald (25th round, Miami) and Jordan Ramsey (32nd round, NY Yankees).
Before UNCW, Williams served as pitching coach at junior college power Spartanburg Methodist (SMC) for eight seasons, 2006-13.
Williams helped the Pioneers achieve a No. 1 national ranking in 2013 in his last season at SMC and a berth in the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. During his tenure as pitching coach at SMC, the Pioneers reached the World Series four times (2007, 2009, 2012,
In 2013, SMC posted a 48-15 record with a 3.36 earned run average, ranking among the top-35 nationally. Opponents hit just .252 against the Pioneer pitching staff.
Williams sent 34 players to the NCAA Division I ranks, 15 of which went on to enter the professional baseball ranks. Two of his pitchers at SMU reached the major leagues as Heath Hembree and Zack Godley each pitched for the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively.
Williams played for the Pioneers in 2002 and 2003 and was part of a sophomore class that combined to win 101 wins over two seasons. In 2003, he tossed a no-hitter in the Region X tournament against Surry Community College.
From SMC, Williams entered professional baseball and pitched for the Mid-Missouri Mavericks of the Frontier League, before transitioning to coaching. He began his coaching career as pitching coach for Spartanburg Post 28 American Legion and helped the program to a pair of state titles. In 2010, he served as head coach of the Laconia Muskrats and guided the rookie franchise to a spot in the New England College Baseball League playoffs.