South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook has announced the completion of his coaching staff for the 2012-13 season. Sammy Esposito has been named recruiting coordinator and Brian Buscher has returned to Gamecock Baseball as volunteer assistant.
Esposito has worked on the baseball staff since the fall of 2007 and has been a part of five NCAA regional teams including the 2010 and 2011 national championship squads. Buscher, a 2003 All-American at South Carolina and former major leaguer with the Minnesota Twins, served as an undergraduate student assistant on the 2011 national championship team at Carolina and most recently was head coach at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School as well as manager for the 2012 Columbia Blowfish that won the Coastal Plains League Petit Cup Championship.
"Coach Esposito and Coach Buscher are tremendous people and also great coaches," said South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook. "They both have influenced our program in so many positive ways. Along with Coach (Jerry) Meyers, we are all excited about getting started this week in preparation for the 2013 season."
Esposito recently completed his fifth season with the baseball program. Esposito works with the hitters and catchers and was coordinator of the Ray Tanner Baseball Camps. In the 2012 season, Esposito groomed the duo of Grayson Greiner and Dante Rosenberg. Greiner would go on to earn Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball with Rosenberg a key cog in the Gamecocks' postseason run. Greiner limited opponents to just 25 stolen bases in 62 games played, while throwing out 18 runners attempting to steal. Both Greiner and Rosenberg made just five errors behind the plate as well and helped contribute to a pitching staff that finished the year with a 2.97 ERA.
The 2011 catching corps had a solid season behind the efforts of senior co-captain Brady Thomas and senior Robert Beary. The pair was dynamic in helping lead behind the plate a pitching staff that went 55-14 with a 2.45 ERA along with 536 strikeouts. The catchers allowed 38 stolen bases in 69 games. Beary fielded a solid .993 behind the plate and earned NCAA Regional MVP honors as well as College World Series All-Tournament team accolades. Thomas was also a CWS All-Tournament team recipient.
In 2010, Esposito led a catching staff that included senior co-captain Kyle Enders, Thomas and Richard Royal. The trio helped to catch a pitching staff that finished with a 3.45 ERA along with 625 strikeouts to 220 walks. The group also allowed just 43 stolen bases in 70 games. In addition, Enders finished his career with a .993 fielding percentage, the best career mark in school history. Enders was also an NCAA Regional All-Tournament team selection with Thomas earning CWS All-Tournament team honors in Omaha. The previous season, Esposito worked with junior catcher Justin Dalles, who earned 2009 All-SEC honors and was a sixth round MLB draft selection by the Baltimore Orioles. Dalles, Enders and Thomas were among the most efficient defensive catchers in the nation as well with just four errors behind the plate in 553 chances and only 27 stolen bases allowed in 63 games. In 2008, Esposito oversaw a strong catching trio in Enders, Phil Disher and Richard Royal that finished with just four errors as well. Disher was a 2008 MLB Draft selection by the Houston Astros.
"Coach Esposito is passionate, organized and a great communicator," said Holbrook. "He will do a terrific job of organizing our recruiting efforts. In this day and time, your entire staff has to be committed to recruiting on a daily basis. While I plan on staying as active as I've ever been on the recruiting front, I certainly understand it takes a relentless staff to recruit at the highest level."
Buscher made an immediate impact as head coach of the Columbia Blowfish this past summer. Reaching the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, Buscher directed his squad to a pair of sweeps in the first two rounds of the playoffs before coming back from one game down to win the 2012 CPL Petit Cup with consecutive victories on the road. It marked the first title for the Columbia Blowfish in team history.
Buscher returned to Columbia in 2010 to complete his work and graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology. His influence on the 2011 Gamecock squad was evident with his work with the corner infielders and on game day as bench coach to Ray Tanner. Prior to his one-year stint on Coach Tanner's staff, Buscher completed a successful seven-year stint in professional baseball highlighted by three years in Major League Baseball with the Twins.
As a player, Buscher was a member of consecutive College World Series teams in 2002 and 2003 for the Gamecocks. Buscher never missed a game in two seasons at Carolina starting 140 of 142 games played at third base. He was a staple in the lineup as a junior on the 2002 SEC championship team that reached the national championship game at the College World Series and he followed that up with an even more successful year in 2003 that saw him earn All-America honors as the Gamecocks made a second straight trip to the CWS. Buscher's .393 batting average (106-for-270) his senior season is the best batting average by a Gamecock player over the last 12 years and his 106 hits is tied for the second highest single-season total in school history. He totaled 201 career hits, one of 23 players at Carolina to record 200 or more hits.
His success at Carolina led him to being selected in the third round of the '03 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants. He would spend three seasons in the Giants minor league system before being selected by the Twins in the Rule Five Draft. Buscher made his MLB debut on July 27, 2007 and spent two and a half seasons with the Twins culminating in a first place finish in the American League Central division in 2009.
"We are ecstatic to welcome back Coach Buscher," added Holbrook. "He was a fantastic player here in 2002 and 2003 and also made a great impact on our team when we won the 2011 national championship. He's a wonderful coach, he brings big league experience and is a perfect fit for our program."
The Gamecocks will begin fall practice on Friday, Sept. 14.