Leading BU to its 19th all-time NCAA Regional appearance, the 34 wins under Rodriguez were the most since 2012 and 12 Big 12 wins were the most since 2013 to give the Bears a fourth place league finish -- their best ending since 2012. Rodriguez's coach of the year honor marked the third time in his career that he's earned a conference coach of the year award and gave BU its 11th such honor.
Along the way in 2017, the Bears earned several honors under Rodriguez. Junior closer Troy Montemayor was named an All-American to give BU its first such honor since 2012. Freshman catcher Shea Langeliers earned freshman All-American status, marking the program's first since 2010. Junior starter Montana Parsons garnered Big 12 Co-Newcomer of the Year. Sophomore outfielder Richard Cunningham was named the program's first Big 12 Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. BU led the league with 15 Big 12 awards, including two first-team all-league choices, three second-team picks, five honorable mentions and two all-freshman honorees. The 12 all-league choices set a program record. The Bears also led the league with a program-record 15 Academic All-Big 12 selections.
Additionally, two players under Rodriguez (Parsons, 24th round by Miami; Kameron Esthay, 26th round by Washington) were taken in the 2017 MLB Draft. The duo gave Baylor its first multi-player draft since 2014 and at least one draftee in 40 of the last 42 drafts (dating back to 1976).
Rodriguez also helped continue the team's power surge. Baylor hit 51 home runs in 2017 in 57 games, which were 17 more than its season output of 34 in 53 games in 2016. BU had 40 or more homers for the first time since 2012 (46) and 50 or more for the first time since 2010 (57).
A successful first season for Rodriguez in 2016 saw the Bears achieve several feats that had not been accomplished in a few years. Rodriguez, who enjoyed a successful playing and coaching career at Pepperdine University, was introduced as Baylor University's 19th head baseball coach on June 12, 2015, and earned his first Baylor win on Feb. 20, 2016 in a 9-5 decision over Washington at Baylor Ballpark. The Bears used a seven-run, two-out rally in the sixth inning with seven straight batters reaching base safely to grab the victory.
Noteworthy accomplishments from the 2016 campaign include extending BU's run of qualifying for every Big 12 Championship event (20, now 21 after 2017) since joining the league in 1996, winning 10 or more (10) games in league play for the first time since 2013, taking two of three from No. 10 TCU for the program's first Big 12 series win over the Horned Frogs, hitting 30 or more home runs as a team for the first time since 2012, continuing BU's streak of finishing with a .500 record or better at Baylor Ballpark in every season in the park (18 seasons since 1999, now 19 after 2017), extending the Bears' streak of having 20 or more wins (24) in a season to 45 (since 1972, now at 46 after 2017) and posting the program's first five-game winning streak since 2013.
Among honors under Rodriguez, the Bears had 10 or more (11) Academic All-Big 12 selections for the fifth straight season, multiple (6) All-Big 12 selections for the 20th straight season (every year as a league member) and their first ABCA All-Region selection (RHP Troy Montemayor, first team) since 2012.
An All-America second baseman on Pepperdine's 1992 NCAA College World Series championship team, Rodriguez has spent the last 12 seasons as head coach at his alma mater, leading the Waves to a 401-300* (.572) record, including a 178-109 (.620) mark in West Coast Conference play, with eight NCAA Tournament appearances, five WCC regular-season titles, three WCC Championship Series crowns and a pair of WCC Tournament titles to his credit. He ranks as the second-winningest coach in program history, his 701 games coached are a school-record and he also earned a pair of WCC Coach of the Year awards.
In 2015, Pepperdine went 32-29 overall, 17-10 in the WCC and captured the WCC Tournament title for the second straight season to earn its eighth NCAA Tournament bid under Rodriguez. The Waves eliminated Clemson and Arizona State in Fullerton Regional action before falling to eventual College World Series entrant Cal-State Fullerton in the NCAA Regional final.
Rodriguez earned 2014 WCC Coach of the Year honors after leading the Waves to a 43-18 overall record (18-9 WCC), the program's most wins since 1999 and the seventh-most in program history, and a sweep of the WCC regular-season and tournament titles. Pepperdine went on to win the San Luis Obispo Regional with a 3-0 record to advance to its first-ever NCAA Super Regional (since the round was instituted in 1999), dropping a heart-breaking three-game series at nationally seeded TCU. Following the 2014 season, he served as an assistant coach with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team.
Introduced as Pepperdine's 16th head coach on June 18, 2003, Rodriguez guided the Waves to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of his first five seasons as skipper (2004-08), averaging more than 37 wins per season in the process and winning at least 30 games every year, while capturing a pair of outright WCC crowns (2004 and 2005) and a share of the 2006 league title. Pepperdine also won three consecutive WCC Championship Series from 2004-06, advancing to the NCAA Regional final each season, and hosting its first-ever NCAA Regional in 2006.
The Waves were picked to finish fifth in the 2012 WCC preseason coaches poll, but beat San Diego in the final game of the regular season to clinch the league title and would go on to finish second at the NCAA Stanford Regional. For his efforts, Rodriguez was honored with his first WCC Coach of the Year award.
Rodriguez recruited and coached seven All-Americans at Pepperdine, including 2012 WCC Player of the Year Joe Sever, 2012 Brooks Wallace Award winner Zach Vincej and first-team All-American Aaron Brown, and his players earned 85 All-WCC honors. Four of his former players have reached the major leagues - Chase d'Arnaud, Barry Enright, Eric Thames and Danny Worth -- and his players were drafted by MLB clubs 43 times. The Waves tied a school record with nine players taken in the 2007 MLB Draft and had at least two players selected in 10 drafts.
In addition to enriching Pepperdine's proud history on the diamond, Rodriguez and his staff were also tireless fundraisers for the program. Those efforts have paid off with the installation of new stadium seats (2004), a new, state-of-the-art scoreboard (2007), a new backstop (2008), a new padded outfield wall (2009) and new turf in the batting cages (2011). Prior to becoming just the third Pepperdine player to later become the program's head coach, Rodriguez served as a Waves' assistant coach for four seasons, during which time Pepperdine compiled an overall record of 145-98 (.597), including an 88-32 (.733) mark in WCC play. The Waves captured the 2001 WCC title and made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2001 and 2003.
A fifth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1992, Rodriguez played professionally for seven seasons with the Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos organizations. He reached the majors with both Boston and Detroit in 1995.
A two-time All-American, he was named the 1992 WCC Player of the Year as the Waves posted a 48-11 mark and captured the program's first-ever College World Series title. Rodriguez was named to the All-CWS team and was part of two memorable plays in Omaha: a grand slam that helped defeat Texas in the semifinal round and a late-inning defensive gem in the Waves' 3-2 win over Cal State Fullerton in the championship game. During his three seasons (1990-92) at Pepperdine, the Waves posted a 126-51-5 (.706) record, including a 72-26 (.735) mark in league play, with league titles and NCAA Tournament trips in 1991 and 1992.
Rodriguez' career batting average of .367 ranks second on the Waves' all-time list, and despite playing just three seasons of collegiate baseball, he is tied for third on the school's all-time career runs scored chart (187) and is fourth in hits (271). A first-team All-WCC selection in 1991 and 1992, Rodriguez made a big splash as a sophomore in 1991 when he batted .419, the third-highest single-season average in school history. His 104 base hits that season set a Pepperdine single-season record that still stands and he still ranks among the top 10 in five different single-season categories. In 2001, Rodriguez was named one of the WCC's Top 50 athletes of all time, and was selected to the conference's 40th Anniversary baseball team in 2007. On Oct. 16, 2016, Rodriguez was inducted into the Pepperdine University Department of Athletics Hall of Fame.
The two-time member of Team USA played in the 1991 Pan American Games and earned "Player of the Series" honors against Mexico and Cuba. He was also named "Player of the Series" against Korea while a member of Team USA in 1992.
Following his professional playing career, Rodriguez enrolled in classes at Riverside Community College and Chapman University before returning to Pepperdine, where he received a bachelor's degree in public relations in December of 2001. He earned a master's degree in educational technology from Pepperdine in 2003.
Rodriguez and his wife, Kimberlee, have a daughter, Julia, who is a junior at Baylor, and a son, Nolan. In October 2007, he was honored by the City of Malibu with the Jake Kuredjian Award for his service to the community. In January 2010, Rodriguez won the Top Chef Award at the Baseball Coaches Cooking Challenge hosted by the ESPN Zone in Anaheim, Calif., and successfully defended his title in 2011.
|Rodriguez' Year-by-Year Record|
|2014||Pepperdine||43-18||#18-9/1st||NCAA Super Regional|
|Totals*||459-352 (.566)||185-135 (.578)||9 NCAA appearances|
@West Coast Conference Series Champion; #West Coast Conference Tournament Champion
*Note: Due to NCAA sanctions against the University, Pepperdine later vacated all wins and NCAA Tournament appearances in baseball between the 2008-11 seasons. Pepperdine's adjusted overall NCAA records for each season are 0-19 (2008), 0-23 (2009), 0-30 (2010) and 0-34 (2011).