GREENSBORO, N.C. - Tony Cirelli, coach of the NJCAA Division II national champion Mesa baseball team, has been named national Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).
Cirelli guided the T-Birds to a 52-13 record, the best in the 49-year history of baseball at MCC, and led the team through the national tournament with five straight wins after dropping the opening game.
Mesa finished tied with Division I Central Arizona for first place in the combined DI and DII ACCAC, earning him conference Coach of the Year honors as well.
In the post-season, MCC swept its way through the Region I tournament with two wins each over Eastern Utah and Scottsdale.
At the national event, which the Thunderbirds entered ranked No. 1 in the country in Division II, MCC topped Hinds (Miss.) in the final two games, the championship game, a 9-7 thriller in 11 innings.
It all came in Cirelli's 20th year as head coach of the T-Birds. He has compiled a 716-456 record and has been named ACCAC Coach of the Year three times.
The New York City native has had 45 of his players selected in the major league draft. Only five of them had previously been chosen directly out of high school.
Cirelli joined the Mesa staff as assistant coach in 1985 and was named head coach in 1995. Over those years the T-Birds has reach playoff play 25 teams and made five appearances in the NJCAA national tournament.