Eric Podbelski enters his 20th season at the helm of the Wheaton College baseball program in 2016-17. Podbelski has built Wheaton's baseball program from the ground up, accumulating one of the highest winning percentages among active NCAA Division III coaches at .715 (559-221-5) through Wheaton's first 18 years of varsity play. Podbelski and the program earned their 500th win on April 25, 2013 against Eastern Connecticut State University at home.
Last spring, Wheaton went 31-13 en route to securing its 14th New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament championship and its 18th-straight NEWMAC postseason appearance dating back to 1999. The Lyons went on to compete in the NCAA New England Regional Baseball Tournament as the No. 1 seed.
In 2013, the Lyons claimed their 14th NEWMAC regular season championship and 13th NEWMAC Tournament title in the 15-year history of the conference (at the time). As a result, Wheaton earned its 12th NCAA Tournament berth in 14 seasons. Podbelski's squad also recorded the program's ninth-straight 30-win season after being ranked preseason favorites in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Preseason Poll and the D3baseball.com Preseason Poll.
In 2012, Wheaton recorded the program's eighth-straight 30-win season and second-ever 40-win season compiling a 41-11 mark en route to an appearance in the NCAA Division III College World Series national championship round. The Lyons placed seven student-athletes on the NEWMAC All-Conference team, four on the D3baseball.com All-Region team and four more on the NEIBA All-New England team. Podbelski also garnered NEIBA Coach of the Year honors while two of his student-athletes were named to the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference team. Wheaton finished the 2012 season ranked no.9 in the last D3baseball.com Top-25 national rankings.
In addition to winning 13 NEWMAC Tournament titles since 1999, the Lyons also hosted the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament in 1999 and qualified for their first ECAC Tournament in 1998 – the team's first year of varsity competition. Eight years later, the 2006 squad made the school’s first national championship game appearance while going 42–10 and recording the highest win total in team history.
Podbelski was awarded New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) Division III Coach-of-the-Year honors in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2012, which earned him a coaching position at the NEIBA All-Star Game at Boston's Fenway Park. He has also been named NEWMAC Coach of the Year nine times.
In the past 15 seasons, Podbelski has produced 12 All-America selections and eight professional players, including two Major League Baseball (MLB) signees. Wheaton's lone MLB draftee, Chris Denorfia '02, was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 19th round in June 2002. Denorfia has swiftly made his way up the professional ranks, most notably his 2005 jump from Double-A Chattanooga to the big leagues. Recalled to Cincinnati in 2006 from Triple-A Louisville and traded to Oakland in 2007, Denorfia signed with San Diego in 2010. He batted .271 with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 36 RBI in 99 games with the Padres last season and opened the 2012 season on the team’s 40-man roster.
In addition to his baseball coaching duties, Podbelski has also served on the NCAA and ECAC Tournament selection committees.
A 1991 graduate of Brandeis University, Podbelski finished his career as one of the school's all-time winningest pitchers with 23 victories. After a junior year in which he was named to three postseason all-star teams, he was invited to play for the Falmouth Commodores in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Podbelski went on to serve as an assistant coach at Brandeis for five years. Under his direction, Podbelski's pitching staff was among the national leaders in team earned run average four times, including in 1994, when it led Division III in ERA at 2.33.
In high school, Podbelski was a standout baseball player at Plymouth-Carver Regional. Named to numerous all-star and all-scholastic teams, he capped his high school career by being selected as a Golden Spikes Award finalist and playing in the 1987 United States Olympic Festival as a member of the USA East team.
Podbelski and his wife, Amy, reside in Norton with twin girls Erin and Shea.
|The Podbelski File|
|1999||28-14||10-2||ECAC Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2000||28-12||11-1||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2001||31-11||10-2||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2002||37-9-1||12-0||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2003||27-10-2||10-2||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2005||33-12||10-2||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2006||42-10||11-1||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2007||34-13||9-3||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2008||34-10||9-3||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2010||34-10||11-1||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2011||32-12||13-5||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2012||41-11||16-2||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2013||32-12||14-4||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|
|2016||31-13||13-4||NCAA Tournament, NEWMAC Champs|