Dan Wilkes, Associate Athletic Director for Communications
PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University athletics director Jim Johnson announced Tuesday that Bob Fornelli has been hired as the Gorillas head baseball coach.
Fornelli becomes just the fifth head coach in the 39-year history of the program. He replaces Tom Myers, who resigned his position to pursue other interests on May 30 after leading his alma mater for two seasons (2017-18) and leading the Gorillas to their first NCAA Division II National Tournament appearance in 16 years this past spring.
“I am very excited to become a part of the Pitt State family and tradition,” Fornelli said. “I’d like to thank Jim Johnson and Dr. Scott for this opportunity. I’m looking forward to the upcoming challenges to help the Gorillas be great. Tommy did a tremendous job in his two years leading the program. Coach (Steve) Bever and I go way back as well and I have the utmost respect for him. The most important thing I can say is that I’m fired up for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get to Pittsburg and begin this process.”
Fornelli comes to Pitt State from MIAA rival Emporia State University where he fashioned a 599-266 (.692) record in 15 seasons leading his alma mater (2004-18). Fornelli guided the Hornets to 13 trips to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, two appearances in the D2 World Series and a national runner-up finish in 2009. He led ESU to five MIAA regular season crowns (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2017) and a pair of MIAA Tournament titles (2007, 2014).
Prior to ESU, Fornelli compiled a 306-113 (.730) record in seven seasons at Fort Hays State University. He led the Tigers to four Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the D2 national championship game in 2000. He remains the winningest head coach in FHSU program history. Fornelli has a 905-379 (.705) record in 22 years as a collegiate head coach.
“We are thrilled to have Bob Fornelli join the Pitt State family as the Gorillas new baseball coach,” Johnson said. “Obviously, this has been an interesting week with Tommy’s decision to step away from coaching and us identifying the path forward. It goes without saying Coach Fornelli is one of the great collegiate mentors among the Division II ranks. For him to leave his alma mater and a highly successful program at Emporia to join the Gorillas is a testament to where we see our baseball program headed.”
Prior to his tenure at FHSU, Fornelli served as pitching coach at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan., from 1992-96. The Grizzlies posted a 195-86 (.694) record during his five seasons on staff, finishing third in the NJCAA World Series in 1994.
A Lenexa, Kan., native, Fornelli earned honorable mention All-Central States Intercollegiate Conference (CSIC) honors as a catcher for ESU his senior season. He played two seasons at Butler C.C. before joining the Hornets.
Fornelli earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from ESU in 1991. He is married to the former Jill Harris of Madison, Kan. The couple has three daughters: Emma, Rylie and Addison.