New San Francisco baseball assistant coach Mat Keplinger at Benedetti Diamond in San Francisco, Calif. on July 19, 2019. (Chris M. Leung for USF Dons Baseball)

USF Dons add ace to the coaching staff in Mat Keplinger

San Francisco adds longtime Delta College pitching coach Mat Keplinger to baseball staff

The University of San Francisco has added a new baseball assistant in pitching coach Mat Keplinger.

Keplinger, who comes to the Dons from junior college powerhouse Delta College, replaces USF alum Matt Hiserman, who’s been the pitching coach for the last four seasons, but left to pursue another career.

With Keplinger guiding the Mustangs’ pitching staff over the last seven seasons, Delta made seven straight Elite Eight appearances in the California Community College Athletics Association championship, and five Final Four runs, winning a state title in 2018.

“Mat has been an integral part of the Delta College baseball program’s success,” Mustangs head coach Reed Peters said in a statement. “His development of pitchers is unmatched. He is a master in increasing velocity and commanding the zone.”

Keplinger produced 28 pitchers who transferred to NCAA Division I programs, nine MLB draft picks, four All-Americans, three Big 8 Conference Pitchers of the Year, two California State Pitchers of the Year and two other pitcher of the year awards from the Pacific Association and the California Community College Sports Information Association. This year, Robert Gasser earned California Pitcher of the Year after going 14-0 with 139 strikeouts under Keplinger.

In this year’s Major League Draft, fifth-rounder Gunner Mayer signed with the Phillies after being picked out of Delta.

Keplinger also helped produce Finn Del Bonta-Smith, who went from Delta to San Jose State, and was picked 669th overall in the 22nd round in this year’s draft by the Colorado Rockies. Another former Mustangs pitcher Nick Avile — who transferred to Long Beach State — was taken in the 26th round (776th overall) by the San Francisco Giants.

Keplinger’s staff led all of California in strikeouts on three occasions, and also led the state in ERA in 2015.

“Mat Keplinger is a highly successful, energetic, creative, and diligent coach,” said Dons head coach Nino Giarratano. “He has had great success at Delta and developed into a wonderful recruiter and developer of young pitchers. We look forward to welcoming Mat to the Dons family.”

Keplinger will have a lot to work with once the Dons get back to Benedetti Diamond for fall workouts. 2018 West Coast Conference first-team right-hander Riley Ornido is back, and already drew crowds of scouts last season.

An all-WCC Honorable Mention honoree last season, Alex Pham, will also return. Most intriguing will be sophomore Julian Washburn, who went 8-2 in his first season with the Dons last spring, and Josh Mollerus, who posted a 1.42 ERA over his final seven appearances as a freshman.

“I am so grateful to be a part of the Dons Family,” Keplinger said in a statement. “The University of San Francisco is a special and storied institution with a winning tradition. The passion that coach Giarratano brings every day is inspiring and I am beyond thankful for the opportunity he has given me.

“We have an unbelievable support system here with all of the resources to be successful on and off the field. I am excited to get to work, learn, and grow with our staff and student-athletes.”

Keplinger is also known as an ace recruiter, and with a bevy of local colleges — including a pair of Pac-12 programs — in the neighborhood, talent evaluation is always key for San Francisco.

“Mat’s contributions to Delta baseball go far beyond pitching,” Reed said. “He was a tremendous recruiter, strength and conditioning instructor, and role model to all the players. He will be greatly missed but we are very happy for him. USF is a getting a great one.”

Keplinger graduated from Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln, earning SJAA Pitcher of the Year in 2006. He received a scholarship to the University of Nevada where he pitched for the Wolf Pack from 2006-2011, earning a degree in journalism, then spent 2012 playing professionally in Germany and was named to the Bundesliaga All-Star Team. He earned his Masters Degree in Kinesiology from Fresno Pacific University in 2015.

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