Mids return three-fourths of starting rotation
Mids return three experienced starters and three veteran relievers
Left-handed pitcher is one of three Mids in program history to earn second-team nod
Bobby Applegate is in his third season with Navy baseball as he joined the staff as the team's pitching coach in August of 2014. A veteran of the collegiate baseball ranks, Applegate came to Annapolis after three seasons at UC Riverside.
Under his tutelage the Navy pitching staff continued cementing its place in the program record books, as well as in the hierarchy of the Patriot League and the NCAA Division I. In 2016, Navy recorded a program-best 43 wins, Patriot League regular season and postseason titles and a win in the NCAA Tournament as part of the Raleigh Regional. Applegate's pitchers posted a 43-16-1 record with a 3.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 440 strikeouts, 12 shutouts and an opponents' batting average of .241. Three of the Mids' four weekend starters had 3.09 or lower ERAs (the fourth was at 3.76). Nationally, Navy's shutout total ranked second overall, while its winning percentage (.750-10th), ERA (19th), WHIP (21st) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.65-23rd) all ranked in the top-25. The Mids' strikeout mark stands second all-time in Navy history trailing only the 2015 staff's 464 punch-outs.
Amongst individual members of the Navy pitching staff, Luke Gillingham and Noah Song earned national accolades for their work with Applegate. For the second straight season Gillingham found himself honored by both the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger on the respective organization's All-American teams. Gillingham turned a senior pitching line of 2.35 ERA, 8-4, eight complete games, four shutouts, 93 strikeouts in 93.0 innings and a .202 opponents' batting average. The left-handed pitcher was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year. Gillingham's career culminated by being selected in the MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Song came into the program as a freshman and immediately secured a role as one of the nation's most impactful rookies. After hurling 75.1 innings over 17 contests, Song finished with a 2.75 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9-3 record, three shutouts, 57 strikeouts and a .182 opponents' batting average. His WHIP and hits allowed per nine innings (5.85) marks both ranked in the top-16 in NCAA DI. For his dominant first season, Song was selected to Freshman All-American teams for the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger.
In addition to Gillingham and Song's national awards, the Mids' closer Sam Sorenson was recognized on the All-Patriot League First Team. Over his first two seasons, Navy pitchers have garnered five All-Patriot League honors.
In his first year as the pitching coach for the Mids in 2015, Applegate led the transformation of a solid staff to one of the best in the nation. Statistically, Navy’s staff dropped its ERA 64 points from 2014 down to a 3.04 mark that ranked 21st in the NCAA. A newly-found aggressive approach in their respective attacks helped the Midshipmen hurlers strike out 464 batters and walk only 146 for a 3.18:1 strikeout to walk ratio that was ninth in the nation. The Mids’ 8.4 strikeouts per nine ratio was 21st overall. Applegate’s staff also ranked 11th in WHIP (1.17), 12th in shutouts (7), 21st in hits allowed per nine (7.9) and 21st in walks allowed per nine (2.66). All-time in Navy’s record books, the 2015 staff is first in wins (37) and strikeouts, second in shutouts and third in strikeouts per nine.
Individually, Applegate helped Luke Gillingham transition from the team’s number three starter to a Second-Team All-American that led the NCAA in hits per nine (4.75) and WHIP (0.70), in addition to ranking third in strikeouts per nine (11.99) fourth in ERA (1.19). Reliever Jett Meenach also had a breakthrough under Applegate’s tutelage as the one-time infielder became a lights-out closer that was named to the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List in late April. The first-year pitcher posted the lowest ERA amongst Patriot League bullpen arms (1.99) and was one of 10 DI relievers with seven or more wins and less than 50.0 innings pitched. Both pitchers earned All-Patriot League honors, including the Pitcher of the Year accolade for Gillingham.
Applegate’s first season in Annapolis concluded with senior Stephen Moore being drafted in the 10th round by the Atlanta Braves. Moore’s selection as number 300 was the highest in school history.
Prior to joining Navy, Applegate served as an assistant coach, recruiting coordinator and, for a time following the retirement of Doug Smith, the interim head coach of the UC Riverside Highlander baseball program. A three-year member of the Highlanders, Applegate led a pitching staff that saw five hurlers join the professional ranks. In this past June, Jacob Smigelski (Miami Marlins, 13th) and Zach Varela (Los Angeles Angels, 23rd) and Dylan Stuart (Atlanta Braves, FA) all were drafted or signed as a free agent after three years of tutelage under Applegate. With the addition of Trevor Frank, a 2013 eighth round draftee of the Cleveland Indians, and Eddie Orozco, a 2012 22nd round pick of the Chicago Cubs, all five hurlers also were recognized on All-Big West teams during their careers at Riverside.
Besides his mentoring of the pitching staff, Applegate was also in charge of coordinating the recruiting, scheduling and alumni relation efforts of the Highlanders' program.
Before heading west to UC Riverside in 2011, Applegate was an assistant coach at Brigham Young University for eight years. During his time with the Cougars his pitchers found both individual and group success as 16 different pitchers signed professional contracts and his staffs posted the two lowest team earned run averages in BYU's history. In a conference known for explosive offensive numbers, the Cougars' 2007 earned run average mark of 3.93 stands fifth all-time in the Mountain West Conference's record book.
In addition to his work with pitchers, Applegate was responsible for the scheduling of all games, managing the travel budget, directing the program's alumni relations and assisting with all facets of recruiting. For his work with the team, he was honored as the Assistant Coach of the Year by BYU Athletic Department in 2010.
A two-year stint as an associate scout for the Kansas City Royals from 2002 through 2003 served as a buffer for Applegate between BYU and his previous stop at the United States Air Force Academy. From 1998 until 2002, he was the pitching coach for the Falcons and guided Matt Kaercher, who became the first pitcher from the academy to sign a professional baseball contract. Applegate and his Air Force squad left its mark on the school's record book with the most wins versus D1 opposition in 2002 and the second-lowest ERA since 1983 during the 2000 season. Six Falcons earned All-Conference accolades under his tutelage.
Applegate's first collegiate coaching opportunity came in 1995 at his alma mater, the University of Southern Colorado (now known as Colorado State University-Pueblo). Between 1995 and 1997, he served as the school's pitching coach and aided the 1996 team to a fourth place finish in the NCAA Division II College World Series.
Applegate began playing collegiately at Southwestern Community College in San Diego (1991-93) before transferring to the University of Southern Colorado. He completed a distinguished career in 1995 after earning accolades as the Colorado Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year ('95) and on the All-Mile High Intercollegiate team ('95). In recognition of his success as a player and a coach, Applegate was inducted into the USC Diamond of Fame in 1999.
After playing professionally for the Pueblo Bighorns of the Texas-Louisiana League during the summer of 1995, he returned to CSU and finished his kinesiology degree in 1996.