Grant Birely | Assistant / Pitching Coach
Grant Birely enters his sixth season on the staff at Purdue-Fort Wayne, and eighth season working with current Mastodon head coach Bobby Pierce. He serves as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
In 2015 the Mastodons made big strides in re-writing the Purdue-Fort Wayne record book, while also advancing to the Summit League Championship Game. The pitching staff finished with a team-record 398 strikeouts, while also setting a school record for most wins and saves. Freshman starter Evan Miller was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American on the season en route to the program strikeout record, while Jake Weber set the single-season record for saves.
In 2014 the team made program history, advancing to the team's first-ever Summit League Tournament. The 315 strikeouts from the season are the second-most in program history, while also ending the season with the second-most combined saves.
The 2013 pitching staff saw its earned run average drop by over two runs per game and the opponent batting average go down by 19 points. The pitching staff also set the then-record for most saves in a season.
The pitching staff from 2012 saw two starters log more than 90 innings on the season, while closer Steve Danielak finished tied for the second-most single-season saves, and fourth in single-season victories.
In 2011 the Mastodon pitching staff finished second in the nation in complete games, and Nick Opitz finished second in the nation in individual complete games. The Mastodons also saw their ERA lowered by two full runs, the Mastodons also had two pitchers receive Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors.
In 2010 the Mastodons won their first conference series in program history and also set a school record for most Division-I wins in program history. The pitching staff improved the team strikeout total while lowering the walk total and the team ERA. Birely had his first pitcher at Purdue-Fort Wayne sign a professional contract after the season.
In Coach Birely's first season at Purdue-Fort Wayne in 2009, the Mastodons had a Pre-Season Wallace Award Watch List Pitcher. Mastodon pitchers improved the number of strikeouts and picked off 25 base runners. Birely helped the team maintain a 3.0 GPA and saw one of his pitchers earn Fireman of the Year award for the best relief pitcher in the Prospect Collegiate Summer League.
In 2008 Birely was the Pitching Coach at Metro State College in Denver, Colorado under Head Coach Bobby Pierce. Under Birely's watch, the pitching staff set a school record for wins in season, strikeouts in a season and one pitcher set the individual mark for wins in a season. Also in 2008, Birely had six pitchers named to the All-Conference teams while helping the Roadrunners achieve a top 10 National Ranking. He also had a pitcher sign a professional contract.
Prior to Metro State, Birely served as an assistant coach at Regis Jesuit High School for two seasons under head coach Steve Cavnar. While at Regis Jesuit, he worked with the pitchers and helped the Raiders advance to the 5A state quarterfinals in 2007.
Birely began his collegiate baseball career at Central Arizona College, where he played the 2002 and 2003 seasons under current Purdue-Fort Wayne head coach Bobby Pierce. He helped Central Arizona to the 2002 Junior College National Championship. Birely then transferred to the University of New Orleans, where he pitched the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He currently holds the record for most appearances in a season. After graduating from the University of New Orleans in 2005, he pitched for the Mesa Miners in the Independent Golden Baseball League.
Coach Birely currently lives in Fort Wayne with his wife Bonny and their two children Tyler and Kaylee.
Connor Lawhead | Assistant Coach
Connor Lawhead is starting his first year as Assistant Coach with Purdue-Fort Wayne.
At Purdue-Fort Wayne, he will be working with position players in all aspects of the game. Hitting, defense, conditioning, base running, etc.
Coach Lawhead played at Purdue-Fort Wayne for Coach Pierce in 2013 and 2014, after transferring from a successful two-year career at Walla Walla Community College. After helping the 2014 Mastodons qualify for their first ever Summit League Tournament, he was the Volunteer Assistant Coach for the 2015 season.
Coach Lawhead is originally from Sammamish, WA, and is currently single and lives in Fort Wayne.