Jerry Oakes was named the Pitching Coach at the University of Pittsburgh in August of 2012, and has taken the Panthers’ pitching staff to new highs in his time in Pittsburgh.
"I couldn't be more excited to be in a great city like Pittsburgh and work for a great program," Oakes said. "There are so many positive things happening here at Pitt. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work this program.”
In his six seasons with the Panthers, Oakes has had 16 pitchers selected in the MLB Draft, including nine in the top 20 rounds.
The Panthers’ pitchers continued to dominate in 2018, tossing a 4.38 ERA, its second best mark in the past four seasons. Oakes saw four pitchers selected, the most in his tenure at Pitt, as RJ Freure led the way in the sixth round (Houston). In addition, Matt Pidich (Cincinnati), Derek West (Atlanta) and Yasin Chentouf (Detroit) also heard their names called in the draft.
Senior Pidich ranked 12th in the league with a 3.05 ERA and 10th in the ACC with 99 strikeouts. The Panthers’ team ERA was the ninth best in the ACC, as the group held opponents to a .248 average.
In 2017, the Panthers’ pitching staff put together its best performance in three seasons, finishing the year with a 4.36 ERA as a team. Under Coach Oakes’ three more pitchers were drafted by MLB teams, with Josh Falk (Oakland), Isaac Mattson (LA Angels) and Josh Mitchell (Kansas City) all earning the call up. In addition, Oakes guided a young group to early success, as freshman Dan Hammer earned a weekend pitching spot, and relievers Chris Gomez and RJ Freure were a force out of the bullpen.
The 2016 season saw one of the most successful pitchers in Pitt history pass through the rankings of Jordano and Oakes, as T.J. Zeuch became the highest drafted player in Pitt baseball history, taken with the 21st overall selection of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft.
Zeuch concluded his career as a Panther ranking seventh on the all-time strikeout list, recording 205 strikeouts in just 212.6 innings of work. His 90 strikeouts during the 2014 season rank fourth in Pitt history for a single season while his career 8.68 strikeouts per nine innings mark stands at 15th in the Panther record books.
In 2016, Zeuch pitched to a record of 6-1 in 10 starts after missing the first four weeks of the season due to injury. He led the Panther staff with a 3.10 ERA, allowing just 24 earned runs and 19 walks, while striking out 74 batters.
In his second season with the Panthers, Oakes guided the pitching staff to a second-consecutive season with a sub-4.00 earned run average. The team ERA of 3.97 from 2014 stands as the second lowest by a Pitt team since at least 1993. Three pitchers - Luke Curtis, Joseph Harvey and Matt Wotherspoon - who all helped achieve the feat were selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. That total stands as the most Pitt pitchers drafted in one season in program history.
Oakes' debut season with Pitt featured a highly successful pitching rotation. The staff posted the lowest ERA (3.59) for the Panther program since 1981 as Pitt won a school-record 42 games.
All three of the Panthers' weekend starters earned All-Big East honors, including Ethan Mildren who earned All-Region honors as well. The weekend rotation combined for a 27-7 record and a 2.93 ERA. Additionally, Mildren and Wotherspoon were selected in the 2013 MLB draft.
Oakes joined the Panthers' coaching staff after spending four years at perennial power Coastal Carolina where he worked with the pitchers and outfielders. During Oakes' tenure, the Chanticleers dominated the Big South, winning the all four regular season and conference tournament titles. Fueled in large part by their pitching staff, Coastal won 40-plus games all four seasons, including a Division I-best 55 victories during the 2010-11 campaign.
Under Oakes' tutelage, 16 Coastal Carolina players were selected in the MLB draft, including seven in the first 10 rounds. RHP Anthony Meo became the highest drafted pitcher in CCU history when he was selected in the second round (63rd overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. Prior to Oakes' arrival, the Chanticleers had only had two pitcher selected in the first ten rounds, while during Oakes' tenure four pitchers were selected before the 10th round.
During his four years at CCU, Oakes coached nine All-Americans, 21 First Team All-Big South selections, three Big South Players of the Year and the 2010 Big South Scholar Athlete of the Year. Additionally, every year Oakes was on the staff a Chanticleer was named Big South Pitcher of the year. One of Oakes' star pitchers at CCU, Keith Hessler made his professional debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2016 MLB season.
Coastal's pitching staff has ranked no lower than 18th in the NCAA in ERA, over Oakes' four seasons, ranking among the nation's top-10 three times including ranking third in the nation in 2012 with a 2.65 team ERA. Additionally during Oakes' tenure, CCU ranked among the nation's top 12 in fewest hits allowed per nine innings all four seasons with top-10 marks in 2010 and 2012. The season prior to Oakes' arrival in Conway, the Chants ranked 32nd nationally in ERA and 41st in hits allowed.
2012 saw CCU record its lowest team ERA (2.65) since its move to the Division I ranks, a mark that was third in the nation. The staff was led by Aaron Burke, a Louisville Slugger, Colleigate Baseball and College Baseball Insider All-American and 2012 Big South Pitcher of the year, who finished the season with a 1.58 ERA, the fifth best in the nation. Burke additionally led the Big South in wins with 10, ranked 22nd in the NCAA, while adding seven saves to figure in 17 of Coastal's 42 wins. In addition to Burke's success, Josh Conway was selected in the fourth round of the MLB draft after having a season where he went 4-1 and struck out 50 in 54.2 innings prior to missing the end of the season with Tommy John surgery.
In 2011, Meo and Matt Rein highlighted a pitching staff that saw five pitchers rank among the school's top 12 for lowest single-season opponent batting average and four rank among the school's single-season best in the Division I era for lowest ERA. the Chants would set a CCU and Big South record by recording four consecutive shutouts, while throwing a total of 43.0 innings of scoreless baseball over six games. Coastal would lead the Big South in ERA, lowest opponent batting average, strikeouts, fewest hits allowed and fewest runs allowed. Meo capped his impressive career by throwing a no-hitter in the Big South Tournament and getting a dominant performance in a win over Connecticut in the NCAA Clemson Regional. Rein was named the 2011 Big South Pitcher of the Year, was tabbed All-American and finished fourth on the CCU career list with 91 appearances.
Coastal was able to win the 2010 NCAA Regional and have the credentials to host a Super Regional thanks to an impressive pitching staff. Headlined by Big South Pitcher of the Year Meo, who finished second in the NCAA with 13 wins, and fellow first team All-Big South pick Cody Wheeler, who was fifth in the NCAA with 12 wins, both pitchers were named All-American by several publications. The two were joined on the Big South first team by relief pitcher Rein, while freshman relief pitcher Ryan Connolly was tabbed second team All-Big South. Meo, the American Baseball Coaches Association District IV Player of the Year, would go on to be a semifinalist for the Dick Howser and Golden Spike National Player of the Year awards with Wheeler being a fifth-round draft pick. Connolly capped the laundry list of honors by being named Freshman All-American after he set a CCU record with 40 pitching appearances in a season.
The Coastal Carolina pitching staff had a tremendous season in 2009. Wheeler was named the Big South Pitcher of the Year and was a second team Louisville Slugger All-American. He went 10-1 on the year and had a no-hitter against Hawai'i (March 26). Nick McCully was 8-1 with a 2.10 ERA and eight saves as well as being named to the All-Big South First Team and the All-Big South Tournament Team. McCully was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
A highly-recruited prospect out of Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor, Pa., Oakes originally committed to play at Coastal Carolina, but was then drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round of the 2000 MLB draft. He wasted little time making his mark as he was the Brewers' Short-Season strikeout leader in 2001 and was ranked as the organization's third-best prospect. He would go on to play eight years of professional baseball, including stints in the Twins, Braves, Rangers and Giants organizations.
Following his final season of professional baseball, Oakes enrolled at Coastal Carolina, where he received a degree in sports management in 2012.