The defending champions hire a former Division I coach with his own summer collegiate title as the third skipper in team history
The East Texas Pump Jacks are the defending Texas Collegiate League champions. Former head coach Ben Taylor led the Jacks to a record 40-win season in 2011 and set the TCL career record for coaching victories in 2012, achieving national rankings both years.
Mark Kertenian knows he has big shoes to fill.
“That’s one of the reasons I took the position, because that standard is there,” said Kertenian, who was announced today as the Pump Jacks’ new head coach.
Kertenian takes over an East Texas team that captured its first TCL title during its fifth anniversary season in 2012. The Jacks reached #7 in Perfect Game’s summer collegiate national rankings and finished the season at #11, both TCL records.
The daunting task of taking over a defending champion that has built such a reputation was the attraction to Kertenian.
“Coaching the Pump Jacks is the most exciting opportunity I’ve had to date as a coach,” said Kertenian.
The 33-year-old comes to East Texas with quite a resume of his own. Kertenian is entering his 12th season as a college coach and his third as an assistant at Glendale College in southern California. The Vaqueros have won conference titles both years he’s been with the program, ending an eight-year stretch without a league championship.
Kertenian began his coaching career at Division I Cal State Northridge, where he spent nine seasons from 2002 to 2010. He helped the Matadors to a 40-win season and a Big West Conference title in 2002, finishing the season ranked #15 in the country. Northridge topped perennial conference contender Long Beach State and a Cal State Fullerton squad that one year later would advance to the College World Series.
Kertenian helped guide the Matadors through some of the toughest competition in the country. In every season from 2003 to 2008, Cal State Northridge endured schedules that ranked among the 25 toughest slates in Division I baseball.
Named the recruiting coordinator at Northridge in 2008, Kertenian thrived in his new role. His first recruiting class was ranked in the top-40 by Collegiate Baseball News, a feat he duplicated in 2009.
The Burbank, Calif., native also made his first move into summer collegiate ball a successful one. He was selected to help recruit players for the Hawaii Baseball League’s inaugural season in 2005, and he served as head coach of the Oahu Paddlers for two years. Kertenian and the Paddlers captured the league title in 2005, then finished runner-up the following summer.
An accomplished instructor, Kertenian founded the Matadors baseball camps at Cal State Northridge, and he continues to tutor one-on-one with some of California’s top prospects. He worked closely with a pair of 2012 draftees, including Arizona Diamondbacks’ second round pick Joe Munoz. Of course, East Texas fans will better recognize another of his former pupils: 2012 Pump Jacks outfielder Taylor Murphy.
Mentoring draft picks and future pros is nothing new to Kertenian. He has coached five future big leaguers, including former Texas Rangers pitcher Kameron Loe. No fewer than 45 of his former players have been drafted by major league teams, and a total of 84 players have gone on to play professional baseball.
Interestingly, Kertenian’s link to the TCL goes back almost a decade. While he was coaching at Northridge in 2004, he sent four players to Texas for the league’s inaugural season. Two of those players were named TCL all-stars, and all four of them were later drafted.
Kertenian takes over for Taylor, who after last season sought a new challenge when he accepted a position with the Mat-Su Miners in the Alaska Baseball League. Taylor coached in three-straight TCL All-Star Games and routinely assembled a roster with the league’s top prospects. He was named the TCL Coach of the Year in 2011, duplicating the achievement of Stan Phelps, who was named the league’s top manager in the Pump Jacks’ 2008 inaugural season.
“We knew finding a new coach this time around would be a challenge,” said general manager Mike Lieberman. “As a nationally-ranked program and the TCL champions, we wanted more than just any coach. Our fans deserve that.
“After an exhaustive nationwide search, it was easy to see that Mark was the man for the job.”
Kertenian’s playing career included serving as team captain at Pasadena City College and then again at Los Angeles City College. He concluded at Point Loma Nazarene University, where he saw time both on the mound and in the field.
A 2003 graduate of Cal State Northridge, Kertenian earned a Master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University the following year. He is currently an instructor in kinesiology, health, and physical education at Glendale, and he has previously taught at colleges throughout southern California.
Kertenian and the Pump Jacks open the defense of their title on May 30 on the road against the Texas Marshals. They open their 2013 home schedule on June 4 against the Acadiana Cane Cutters, then conclude their opening homestand with a championship rematch against the Victoria Generals. The complete 2013 schedule can be found here.
Season tickets for the Jacks are on sale now. Season ticket prices remain the same this year – that’s right, no price increase even with a championship! Lower Box seats, which include in-your-seat wait service, are just $199 each, and Upper Box seats are $150. Grandstand season tickets are $105 for adults and $85 for children and seniors. Fans who purchase their season tickets and pay in full by February 8 will receive a free limited edition championship T-shirt, one that won’t be available to any other fans! Season tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Jacks’ office in downtown Kilgore. Click here for more information on Pump Jacks season tickets.
To follow all the news and developments as the Jacks prepare for the 2013 season, visit the Pump Jacks official web site at www.pumpjacksbaseball.com. Join the conversation with other members of Pump Jacks Nation by visiting the Pump Jacks on Facebook and Twitter.