Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard (2024)

Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard

Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard (1)

1984 - Winning From the Start

In its first season of competition in 1984, Owl baseball finished with a 30-20 record including a victory in its inaugural game over Baptist, 4-2.

1985 - Dancing in Year Two

Kennesaw State posted a second winning season in as many yeras with a 31-24 ledger in 1985 including a 14-10 Georgia Intercollegiate Athletics Conference record and a trip to the NAIA District Tournament.

The Owls' trip to the tournament would start a streak that would last for the remainder of its time at the NAIA level (until 1993).

1988 - Conference Crown

A 20-8 GIAC record earned the Black and Gold its first conference title in 1988. The Owls won each of their last six games to win the conference.

Cliff Brannon was named Player of the Year in both the GIAC and NAIA District with a .349 batting average, 18 homers and 50 RBI.

1989 - You Love to See It

The 1989 regular season was capped off with the biggest victory for the Owls at the time - a road win over in-state rival and Division I program Georgia Tech.

KSU toppled the Yellow Jackets 12-2 in Atlanta, for its first win over a DI program just 17 years before the Owls themselves would transition to NCAA Division I.

1989 - Drafted!

The first of several MLB Draft picks to come from Kennesaw State was first baseman Cliff Brannon, who was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 29th round of the 1989 draft.

The Cardinals would select another Owl, righy John Kelly, in the 34th round of the 1990 draft the next season.

1990 - New Decade, More Success

A record four Owls were named to the All-GIAC Team in 1990 behind Player of the Year John Brackett and Pitcher of the Year John Kelly. The Owls went 23-9 in league play en route to the GIAC title. Overall, Kennesaw State finished 37-21 for the best winning percentage in program history up to this point.

Kelly led the nation with 16 victories on top of a 1.89 season ERA.

1989-91 - 91 Straight Games

The Owls went 91 straight trips to the diamond across the three seasons without putting a 0 on the final scoreboard.

1992 - The Sansing Effect

After winning back-to-back GIAC titles at Shorter, Mike Sansing was named Kennesaw State head coach ahead of the 1992 campaign. He immediately came in and made an impact with a 39-19 record - the most wins for the Owls in a single season by 1992.

KSU qualified for the NAIA District tournament that featured 40-degree weather in mid-May. A .405 batting average for Brian Smith earned him All-GIAC and All-District honors.

Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard (2)

Mike Sansing became KSU's head coach before the 1992 season.

1993 - Setting New Bars

Sansing followed the 39-19 campaign of 1992 with another record: the highest win percentage in program history after going 36-16 the year after.

KSU started 12-0 to the season and held 30 opponents to three-or-less runs.

1994 - On Top of the Mountain

After starting 14-6 and 3-3 in GIAC action, the Owls soared to a 36-14 (20-8) record including 12-consecutive tournament wins to secure Kennesaw State's first-ever national championship in any sport. Pitchers Chris McKnight, Chad Morris, John Kown and Chris Tracy dominated the tournament as the Owls allowed just 13 runs in the five-game World Series.

McKnighy shut out Southeastern Oklahoma 2-0 to win the trophy for the Black and Gold. Darrell Baggett posted a .322 average and 41 RBI in 1994 and earned the World Series Gold Glove award.

KSU entered 1995 as the top-ranked team in the country entering NCAA Division II and the Peach Belt Conference.

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The Owls won the 1994 NAIA National Championship - the first national title in KSU's history.

1994 - All-American

On top of the 1994 NAIA crown for the Owls was the first All-American in program history: future Kennesaw State baseball head coach Ryan Coe.

Coe batted .369 with 18 homers and 79 RBI to earn the honor.

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Ryan Coe became the first All-American in KSU baseball's history in 1994.

1996 - Another Season on Top

In year two at the DII level, Kennesaw State started off 5-6 in what was called a ‘rebuilding year’ for the Owls. KSU went 43-11 the rest of the way on top of a 17-6 PBC record.

The Division II South Atlantic was moved to Stillwell Stadium due to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the Owls took advantage, winning the event in an 11-6 victory over Columbus.

Now in the DII World Series, KSU outscored opponents 24-11 and shut out St. Joseph's 4-0 to win the Owls' second National Championship in three seasons at two different levels of competition.

1997-99 - World Series Berths

After winning the 1996 crown, Kennesaw State remained in contention for the trophy and earned berths to the Division II World Series in each of the next three seasons.

1990's - Small College Team of the Decade

From 1994-99, Kennesaw State earned two National Championships and made five appearances in the World Series. The program was awarded the Small College Team of the Decade honor by Baseball America following the 1999 campaign.

2002 - Peach Belt Champs

After a pair of seasons coming just short of the conference title, Kennesaw State rebounded in 2002 with a 25-5 PBC record, besting North Florida by two games. The Owls went 46-13 and were led by PBC Player of the Year Donnie Hood and Pitcher of the Year Grant Reynolds.

2003 - Nine In a Row

Since joining the NCAA in 1995, Kennesaw State earned nine-consecutive berths to the DII region tournament.

February 10, 2006 - Winning for Power

After 11 seasons at the Division II level, Kennesaw State transitioned to NCAA Division I for the 2005-06 campaign.

In its first game as a DI program, Owl baseball met the PAC-10's Washington State and won 8-5 - starting off the team's DI history with a Power Five victory.

March 7, 2007 - Call the Dawgs

18 years after its first win over an NCAA Division I program, Kennesaw State faced in-state foe UGA in 2007 and secured its first win over the Bulldogs, 3-2 in Athens, Ga.

2009 - A Pair of Firsts

Kennesaw State had a program-record five players selected in the MLB First Year Player Draft in 2009. While it did not mark the first draftees in KSU history, two Owls were taken in the first round.

Right-handed pitcher Chad Jenkins was taken 20th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays and 27 picks later, righty Kyle Heckathorn was selected by the Brewers in the supplemental round.

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Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard (6)

May 25, 2014 - Crown the Kings

In its ninth season at the DI level, Kennesaw State earned its first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference title. After defeating ETSU and Stetson (twice) in its first three tournament games, the Owls defeated Lipscomb 7-1 to win the trophy.

KSU went 40-24 and 17-9 in ASUN play.

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The Owls won their first ASUN tournament title in 2014.

June 2, 2014 - Roll the Regional

Along with its first ASUN title came Kennesaw State's first trip to an NCAA Division I Regional. At the Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State, KSU edged Alabama, 1-0, then defeated Georgia Southern in 12 innings, 13-5.

After falling to the Crimson Tide, 4-1, KSU met the SEC foe for a third time and took the final game, 4-2, for its first region crown in its first DI regional appearance. Travis Bergen was named Regional MVP.

KSU advanced to the Louisville Super Regional.

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Kennesaw State won its first NCAA DI Regional title in its first appearance at the Tallahassee Regional in 2014.

2014 - The Year of Max Pentecost

Catcher Max Pentecost made himself known in the 2014 season at Kennesaw State. The winner of the 2014 Johnny Bench Award, he also earned All-ASUN First Team honors, All-Tournament honors and was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year.

On top of the conference honors, he earned All-American First Team honors from the NCBWA, Baseball American, Louisville Slugger, Perfect Game and Rawlings/ABCA.

Pentecost was named to the watch lists for the Golden Spikes, Dick Howser and Gregg Olson awards.

He was drafted 11th overall in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays - just the third first rounder in KSU history.

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Max Pentecost had one of the best seasons by an Owl in 2014.

2014 - Soaring with Awards

In addition to an ASUN title and NCAA DI Regional title, the Black and Gold earned several honors in the 2014 campaign.

  • Five All-American selections
  • Five Tallahassee Regional All-Tournament Team honors
  • Four Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team awards
  • Six All-ASUN Conference Team selections
  • Two ASUN All-Freshman Team honors
  • Three All-ASUN Players of the Week
  • Three Preseason All-ASUN awards
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February 13, 2015 - A Top 25 Showdown at The Shake

Ranked 19th in the nation, Owl baseball hosted No. 25 Liberty - the first Division I ranked vs. ranked matchup inside Stillwell Stadium.

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KSU and Liberty battled in 2015 in the first ranked vs. ranked matchup at Stillwell Stadium.

March 27, 2015 - Sansing 1K

In game one against USC Upstate in 2015 - the first ASUN Conference game of the season - the Owls defeated the Spartans 5-0 for head coach Mike Sansing's 1,000th career victory.

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2016 - Regular Season Crown

A 17-4 ASUN record in 2016 earned Kennesaw State the conference regular season title. KSU won every single conference series during the campaign.

In addition to the regular season trophy, KSU earned its first win and sweep over Auburn in program history as well as the team's first win over a Big Ten team, toppling Purdue on Feb. 20.

Head coach Mike Sansing was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year.

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Mike Sansing won ASUN Coach of the Year in 2016.

2018 & 2020 - Freshman All-Americans

Collegiate Baseball named Tyler Simon and Nick Hassan to its Freshman All-American teams in 2018 and 2020, respectively, marking the beginning of impressive careers in an Owl uniform for the duo.

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Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard (15)

July 9, 2021 - A Familiar Face at the Helm

After 20 seasons at the helm, Mike Sansing retired as the head coach of Owl baseball.

His successor was announced as the first KSU baseball player to be inducted into the Kennesaw State Athletics Hall of Fame and the first All-American in program history, a former player under Sansing: Ryan Coe.

Coe spent the previous 12 years as a scout for the Texas Rangers.

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May 28, 2022 - Reign of the Grimy Dirtbags

Following a 32-25 regular season and a 19-11 ASUN record, the 2022 Owls - who nicknamed themselves the ‘Grimey Dirtbags’ - entered the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed. KSU lost each of its first two games in pool play before defeating FGCU, 7-6, in an elimination game to make the final four.

The Owls exacted revenge on Lipscomb, 6-4, then met No. 1 Liberty in the conference title game. KSU went wire-to-wire and held off a ninth-inning rally by the Flames to win the ASUN title, 10-6.

It marked the Owls' second ASUN tournament victory.

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KSU won the ASUN title in Ryan Coe's first season as head coach in 2022.

June 3-5, 2022 - Welcome to Hattiesburg

KSU's second trip to an NCAA DI Regional brought the Black and Gold to Hattiesburg, Miss. where the Owls met a star-studded LSU team, Army and host Southern Mississippi.

Led by All-American Josh Hatcher and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American/ASUN Freshman of the Year Donovan Cash, the Owls fought hard in a 14-11 defeat to LSU but defeated Army, 9-8, in its second game.

KSU fell 4-3 to Southern Miss in its final game at the event.

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2022 - All-Owls

Much like its Regional Championship 2014 season, the Owls' 2022 campaign was littered with honors:

  • Two Hattiesburg Regional All-Tournament Team selections
  • One All-American honor
  • Two Freshman All-American honors
  • Five ASUN All-Tournament Team selections
  • Three All-ASUN Team honorees
  • Three Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team selections
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October 22, 2022 - New Fields to Conquer

After over 17 years at the Division I level, Kennesaw State athletics announced a move to Conference USA and NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, effective July 1, 2024.

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Kennesaw State joins Conference USA on July 1, 2024.

2024 - Kings of the Cats

KSU made noise early on in the 2024 campaign, routing No. 10 Clemson, 18-1, handing the Tigers their worst home loss since 1936. Two weeks later, KSU traveled to No. 25 Kentucky and took games one and two of the series by a combined score of 23-3 including a run-rule 13-1 win in game one.

Kentucky went on to win the 2024 SEC Regular Season Championship and both teams hosted NCAA Division I Super Regionals.

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The Owls defeated No. 10 Clemson and No. 25 Kentucky in 2024.

May 18, 2024 - Saying Goodbye to The Shake

Kennesaw State hosted its final game at Stillwell Stadium in 2024 with a three-game series vs. Lipscomb. After taking the first two games by a combined score of 13-2, the Owls won game three 11-7 to send out The Shake on a high note.

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Kennesaw State said goodbye to its longtime home Stillwell Stadium in 2024.

2025 - New Homes

2025 marks the first season of competition for Owl baseball as a member of Conference USA. Also on the horizon in the new season is Mickey Dunn Stadium - the future home of Kennesaw State baseball. Learn more here.

Mickey Dunn Stadium is the future home of Kennesaw State baseball.

Kennesaw State Baseball: The Gold Standard (2024)
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