With student loans piling up several years ago, Cory Beddick nearly gave up on his dream of becoming a college head coach.
He had earned his MBA; he could have pursued a life in the corporate world. But the former Gettysburg College infielder wanted something different.
He wanted to succeed in the coaching world. And so he took over a brand new baseball program at a school he had never heard of in Frederick.
In three years, Hood College Baseball went from non-existent to a competitive club that finished 20-20 in 2017 and looked poised to make significant noise in 2018.
That’s when Beddick made another life-altering decision: To walk away from the program he built at Hood and to take the opening at Chestertown’s Washington College, where the facilities and support staff exceed most Division 3 schools.
Beddick left Hood for Washington last summer — and, now, two Division 3 programs in Maryland display Beddick’s undeniable fingerprints as they are pointed toward the postseason.
Loving baseball and learning the ropes
Charles Beddick instilled a love for baseball in his son, Cory, at an early age. He’d take the boy to Veterans Stadium in the 1990s to watch Philadelphia Phillies such as Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, and John Kruk fight their way through the National League.
It was Charles who first heard about the head coach opening at Hood — for a program that wouldn’t play for more than a year.
Beddick was 26 then, armed with a few years of assistant coaching experience (at Gettysburg and Penn State-Behrend) and a whole lot of unbridled enthusiasm. He competed with roughly 60 other qualified candidates, and emerged as the chosen architect for a new program.
“It’s certainly daunting, but it’s also exciting because you build things – I guess, right or wrong – the way you envision them,” Beddick said.
He wasn’t initially given a full-time position, but instead accepted a $3,000, part-time gig in hopes of proving he could succeed.
Because Beddick needed to build the program from the ground up — literally — Hood’s inaugural baseball season was delayed a year.
“We didn’t have a field or baseballs,” Beddick said. “There weren’t balls. There weren’t players. There weren’t coaches.”
It doesn’t get much more rudimentary than that. But Beddick made it work. He commuted from his parents’ house in Lancaster, Pa., to Frederick on a weekly basis to meet with recruits.
“I wanted to be a legitimate Division 3 college baseball program as quickly as possible,” he said. “And the fastest way for that to happen was to recruit talented players.”
Without any starters or returnees, playing time was one of Beddick’s biggest selling points.
“We really tried to push (the idea), ‘Hey you get an opportunity to help us build something special; you can be a part of the first team. You get a chance to play right away. We don’t have any returning players anywhere. Everything’s wide open,’” Beddick said.
In his first year at Hood, Beddick landed 37 freshmen and two transfer commitments.
Success wasn’t immediate. But in three seasons in Frederick, Beddick saw his program’s win total improve each year, going from 14 to 16 to 20.
For Hood senior outfielder Cam Esposito, Beddick continues to be more than just a mentor on the field.
“He’s always made himself available to me – not just for baseball but for my personal career as well,” Esposito said. “He’s always told me to put his name down as a reference if I’m applying for a job. Or, if I wanted to continue to play after college, he’s said he’d help set up some stuff; all I have to do is shoot him a text or give him a call.”
Moving on to a new opportunity
After leading Hood to its best season in school history, Beddick was offered the head coaching position at Washington College last summer; it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It was really nothing against Hood,” Beddick said. “It was more about the opportunity presented by Washington College. To be able to come back in the conference I played in and coached in – the Centennial Conference is one of the most prestigious conferences at the Division 3 level – was very appealing.”
“Here at Washington College we have one of the best baseball facilities at the Division 3 level across the country,” Beddick said. “We have sports performance, and strength and conditioning coaches, an equipment room and a locker room. I felt we’d be able to recruit a high level of student-athlete. I think it’s a place where we can compete for conference championships on an annual basis.”
Meanwhile, Hood (27-7 overall, 11-7 conference) has flourished thanks in large part to Beddick’s initial recruiting class. With first-year head coach Michael Impellittiere, one of Beddick’s former assistants, at the helm, Hood clinched a Middle Atlantic Conference playoff berth for the first time in school history. The Blazers’ started their record-breaking season by winning 18 out of their first 19 games.
Beddick wasn’t wistful; he was thrilled.
“I knew, we knew — Coach Impellittiere and the people at Hood – that this year was going to be a very good year,” Beddick said. “What they’re doing isn’t surprising to me at all, and I’m so happy for them.”
“And it isn’t because of just what I did,” Beddick added. “It was the other assistant coaches, the administration and our vision together to build a program. I knew they were going to be talented, so that’s what made it tough to leave.”
Creating a new legacy
Success has followed Beddick to his new school in Chestertown. After finishing eight games below .500 in 2017, the Shoremen (23-13 overall, 7-7 conference) are within three games of the conference’s final playoff spot.
Beddick has brought a loose, care-free attitude to Washington College, according to senior pitcher P.J. Mikulus.
“In past seasons, guys have played really tense,” Mikulus said. “We wouldn’t necessarily go all-out because we were afraid to mess up. Now everyone’s going out there, and we’re not afraid to fail.”
“I really want players to play with confidence,” Beddick said. “We, as a coaching staff, have really tried to instill an atmosphere where we can let athletes be athletes. We try to tell them that, ‘Hey, we’re going to strike out. We’re going to make errors. Let’s move past that.’”
Beddick’s mindset seemingly has worked for the Shoremen.
Mikulus and junior Nick Roberti became the first teammates in Centennial Conference history to throw no-hitters in the same season.
With only four regular season games left, Beddick will try to lead his new team to its first playoff berth since 2012.
Two games against perennial power Johns Hopkins University and two games against Ursinus College will determine whether Beddick joins his former team in postseason play.
Regardless, it looks like he has a second program headed in the right direction.
BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Top Performers of the Week
Connor Reeves, RHP, Salisbury University
Senior/Bel Air, Md./John Carroll High School
Reeves was named Capital Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week after registering two victories in two appearances last week for the Sea Gulls. Against Marymount University, Reeves pitched a complete game while striking out 11 batters. He allowed only one run and five hits in Salisbury’s 6-1 victory. On Saturday, Reeves entered a tie game versus York College of Pennsylvania. The former John Carroll Patriot proceeded to throw 2 1/3 perfect innings, including two strikeouts. On the season, Reeves has tossed 78 innings, compiled a 1.62 ERA and holds a 10-2 record. His 10 wins currently have him atop that category in all of Division 3 baseball.
Nick Burns, LHP, Johns Hopkins University
Burns earned Centennial Conference Pitcher of the Week honors after striking out nine batters in a complete game shutout over Ursinus College on Saturday. He allowed only two hits and two walks in the Blue Jays’ 5-0 victory; it was the first complete game shutout of the senior captain’s career. The southpaw also had one relief appearance during the week in which he struck out the only batter he faced. On the season, Burns boasts a 4-1 record with a 2.29 ERA, which is good for third best in the Centennial Conference. Burns’ 36 strikeouts on the year tie him with Sean McCracken for second best on the team.
Joe Kroeger, C, Hood College
Sophomore/York, Pa/ Bats/Throws: R/R
Kroeger drove in a career-high five RBIs in the first game of a doubleheader against Arcadia University. Although Hood fell 14-11, Kroeger scored a run and recorded a hit in all four of his at-bats. The sophomore carried that momentum into the second game. Kroeger went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in Hood’s 21-3 victory. The win clinched Hood’s first playoff berth in school history.
Hood’s Cam Esposito became the first player in school history to reach 200 career hits. The senior outfielder entered Friday’s game with 198 hits before hitting two singles against Arcadia to achieve the milestone. … The U.S. Naval Academy (31-11 overall, 15-6 conference) beat the U.S. Military Academy (Army) over the weekend. The Midshipmen got their revenge by shutting out the Cadets, 4-0, at Fenway Park. The victory comes almost a month after Army swept a doubleheader against Navy at Camden Yards. On the hill at Fenway, Navy right-hander Noah Song pitched a complete game shutout while striking out 11 batters and only allowing three hits. Junior Christian Hodge ignited Navy’s offense. The righty sent two home runs over the Green Monster. He finished the day 3-for-4 and knocked in all of Navy’s runs. … Navy outfielder Stephen Born is one of 10 finalists nationwide for the Senior CLASS Award, which is given to one senior each season who has demonstrated excellence on the field, in the classroom and with the community. … Coppin State University (15-18-1 overall, 14-3 conference) is in the midst of a historic run. The Eagles set a new program record for MEAC victories in a season by defeating Norfolk State University 2-1. Coppin State’s Aaron Rea dominated on the mound in the win. The junior right-hander pitched 7 2/3 innings and struck out 13 batters. The victory also resulted in a milestone for Head Coach Sherman Reed, who matched the school record for career MEAC victories with his 54th win.
Matchup to watch
After already clinching a playoff spot for the first time in school history, Hood wraps up its regular season schedule against Johns Hopkins on Monday. Johns Hopkins is a Division 3 perennial powerhouse looking to make another run at the Centennial Conference title. Hood hasn’t lost a non-conference game all year. A win against the Blue Jays would only further validate the Blazers’ season and send them into the MAC playoffs with even more confidence.