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Matt Gardner enters his third season as the volunteer assistant baseball coach at Texas Tech in 2016 where he assists with the Red Raider pitching staff and catchers while also working with the outfielders.
Gardner, who began his collegiate playing career for Tim Tadlock at Grayson County College in 2005, came to Tech following two seasons as pitching coach at Lubbock Christian University (2012-13). He previously spent three seasons as a graduate assistant coach (2009) and volunteer assistant coach (2010-11) at his alma mater, Oklahoma State.
Taylor recorded one of the best seasons in NCAA history in 2015 as the senior led the country with a 0.31 ERA that was the sixth-lowest in NCAA history and the lowest for any Division-I pitcher since Al Holland (North Carolina A&T) in 1975. His impressive year snapped both the Texas Tech and Big 12 records for ERA as he allowed just two earned runs over 57.1 innings.
Taylor, a seventh round draft selection by the New York Mets, was named a third team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), marking the first time a Tech pitcher has earned All-America honors since John Neely in 2011.
The Red Raiders have posted consecutive 30-win seasons in each of the last two years with Gardner on staff, marking the first time Tech has done so since the 2005 and 2006 campaigns. Tech has combined for 76 victories the past two seasons, the most over a two-year span since 2001-02 (85 wins).
Tech closed the 2015 season at 31-24 overall and 13-11 in Big 12 play, which secured a third-place finish in the Big 12 standings, its highest since the 2004 season. The Red Raiders, who have combined for 27 wins against conference foes the past two seasons, their most since 2001-02, have finished among the top four teams in the Big 12 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001-02.
The Tech pitching staff closed the 2015 season with a 3.33 ERA, marking the second-straight year Tech has posted a team ERA of 3.40 or lower. The Red Raiders had not previously accomplished that feat since the 1970 and 1971 seasons. Tech allowed just 184 earned runs overall, its fewest since giving up 176 in 1994.
In addition, Tech also snapped the single-season record with a 3.21 team ERA during Big 12 play. Taylor and Moreno were dominant against conference foes as the duo combined to allow just five earned runs while posting 0.55 and 1.09 ERAs.
Smith completed his two seasons on the Red Raider pitching staff with a 2.81 career ERA, seventh-lowest in Tech history, while Moreno ended his career eighth overall with a 2.97 ERA. Their two career ERAs rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the aluminum bat era (since 1974), while Taylor is 10th in that category with a 3.30 career ERA.
Gardner helped lead the Red Raider pitching staff to their best season in school history in 2014 -- Gardner's first season on the Texas Tech staff. The Red Raiders historic season included winning the NCAA Coral Gables Regional, NCAA Lubbock Super Regional and making Tech's first-ever appearance at the College World Series in Omaha.
The Red Raiders won 45 games in 2014 -- the fourth most wins in school history while Gardner assisted pitching coach Ray Hayward with the pitching staff that set numerous school records, including shutouts (9), ERA during the aluminum bat era -- since 1974 (3.11), times holding opponents to two runs or fewer (30), innings pitched (587.2) and ERA during Big 12 play (4.09).
Tech's 2014 postseason run was centered on one of the most dynamic pitching efforts in recent memory. The Red Raiders posted a 0.76 ERA in eight NCAA Tournament games while recording 64 scoreless innings (72 total innings pitched) with 27 consecutive scoreless innings during three straight shutouts -- one to clinch the Coral Gables Regional title and back-to-back 1-0 shutouts over College of Charleston in the Lubbock Super Regional to advance to the CWS.
In fact, it marked the first time in NCAA history that a team shutout their opponents 1-0 in back-to-back games in a Super Regional. Only once in the Super Regional era (since 1999) had a team advanced to Omaha with back-to-back shutouts (LSU -- 2002).
Tech tied an NCAA all-time record with four shutouts in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, a feat that had only previously been accomplished by Cal State Fullerton (2004), Pepperdine (1992), Arizona State (1972), Florida State (1970), St. John's (1968) and Wake Forest (1955). In addition, entering the 2014 postseason, the Red Raiders had played 33 games in the NCAA Tournament and had never posted a shutout. It marked the first time Tech had three consecutive shutouts since 1976.
The Red Raiders experienced the biggest turnaround in school history in 2014 with 45 wins a year after winning 26 games. The turnaround marked the second biggest in Big 12 history. The Red Raiders posted a 40-win season for just the sixth time in school history in 2014 while going 14-10 in Big 12 play for a fourth-place finish. Tech's 14 conference wins marked its most since 2004.
Tech won 12 games against nationally-ranked opponents in Hayward's second season -- the most by the Red Raiders since 1998. Tech was nationally ranked for 18 consecutive weeks -- ranked as high as No. 7 before finishing the year at No. 8, tying the school record for highest end of the year ranking.
Tech finished the 2014 season tying a school record with 33 home wins. The Red Raiders finished the season breaking a school record with 16 straight home wins to finish a season -- the streak marked the longest active home win streak in the nation.
Tech's pitching staff ranked 14th in the nation in shutouts and finished third in the Big 12 in both ERA (3.11) and opponent batting average (.248). Three pitchers ranked among the top four in the league in statistical categories as Chris Sadberry's 17 starts ranked second, Smith ranked fourth in shutouts (1) and also opponent batting average (.211) and Dusek broke a Big 12 freshman record with a 1.94 ERA which ranked fourth in the league among all pitchers.
Sadberry earned All-Big 12 second team and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week during the 2014 season. Dusek became the first left-handed pitcher in school history to be named a Freshman All-American in 2014.
Just before arriving at Tech, Gardner was the pitching coach for the Chatham Anglers in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2013. He helped lead the Anglers to the President's Trophy, awarded annually to the team with the best overall record (26-17). During his summer in the Cape, Gardner coached Red Raider catcher Hunter Redman and right-handed pitcher Dominic Moreno.
He helped guide the Anglers to the Cape Cod League Eastern Division title while working with a pitching staff that tallied 332 strikeouts -- ranking second in the league -- which was anchored by the Cape Cod League's Most Outstanding Pitcher, Lukas Schiraldi. Also on his pitching staff was right-handed pitcher Tommy Lawrence, who was awarded the league's John Claffey Award, given to the top Cape Cod League Prospect from New England.
Gardner's pitching staff posted a 3.33 ERA -- the Anglers' lowest team ERA since 2010 -- while eight of his pitchers posted an ERA under 2.00. Schiraldi led the league with a 1.20 ERA in seven starts going 4-1 with 37.2 innings pitched with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks allowed. Lawrence went 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA with eight appearances (5 starts) with 33.2 innings pitched, 29 strikeouts and just three walks allowed.
In addition, Anglers long-time manager, John Schiffner, was awarded Cape Cod League Coach of the Year honors for just the second time during his 20-year career in the Cape.
During Gardner's final season at LCU in 2013, the Chaps finished the season 44-17 overall and received a national ranking as high as No. 4 in the country while he led a pitching staff that broke a school record with three Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft selections.
Gardner's pitching staff ranked in the top 25 in the nation in strikeouts in back-to-back seasons at LCU while his top pitcher in 2012, Tyler Rogers, ranked third in the country with 122 strikeouts and his ace pitcher in 2013, Derek Loera, a 28th round draft pick, was 18th in NAIA with 10 wins and 19th in the nation with 89 strikeouts.
During his two campaigns at LCU the Chaps won 79 games, had 12 All-Sooner Athletic Conference selections and six NAIA All-America selections. LCU received a national ranking during every week of the season during Gardner's two seasons with eight rankings inside the top 10 in the nation.
Gardner's final season at OSU in 2011, the Cowboys pitching staff recorded a 3.79 ERA -- the program's lowest team ERA in 36 years (since 1974). During his first season assisting with the pitching staff, Oklahoma State ranked fifth in the nation averaging 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
OSU advanced to a pair of NCAA Regionals during Gardner's time on the coaching staff with an appearance at the 2009 Clemson Regional (2-2 record) and advancing to the 2011 Nashville Regional. The Cowboys posted a 98-75 overall record from 2009-11.
Gardner coached 21 MLB draft picks at Oklahoma State -- 10 of which were pitchers while five OSU players were selected in the top-10 rounds of the MLB Draft. In addition to coaching over 20 draft picks at his alma mater, Gardner mentored 18 All-Big 12 selections, 21 Academic All-Big 12 honorees, two Big 12 Pitchers of the Week and one All-American.
Gardner's coaching career also includes a pair of assistant coaching stints at the junior college level while coaching the fall of 2009 at Ranger College and the fall of 2010 at Midland College.
A Friday-night starter at Oklahoma State for two seasons, Gardner was an All-Big 12 selection and Academic All-Big 12 award winner during his three-year career (2006-08) as a student-athlete with a 16-6 career record with a 4.89 ERA with 39 appearances, 30 starts, two complete games, 173.0 innings pitched and 108 strikeouts with 40 walks in three seasons (2006-08) as a Cowboy.
He helped lead OSU to three-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, which included a trip to an NCAA Super Regional in 2007. Gardner and the Cowboys captured three straight 40-win seasons, something that hadn't been accomplished in Stillwater since 1997-99.
Twice he was named OSU's Opening Day starter during his sophomore and junior seasons.
He was named to the 2006 NCAA Fayetteville Regional All-Tournament team while recording a 7-3 record with 18 appearances, 10 starts, 83.1 innings pitched and 51 strikeouts. Also in 2006, Gardner ranked fourth in the Big 12 in complete games (2) and fifth in the league in wins (5) during Big 12 play.
His final season at OSU the Cowboys led the Big 12 with a 3.98 team ERA.
Gardner was a 32nd round MLB Draft pick in 2007 by the Los Angeles Dodgers following his junior season at OSU.
He began his collegiate career playing for Tim Tadlock at Grayson County College in 2005 while helping the Vikings to a 45-13 overall record and to a conference championship while being named an NCAA Honorable Mention All-American.
He ranked eighth in the nation during his freshman year in wins going 10-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 73.1 innings with 62 strikeouts and 24 walks allowed. Gardner was also a catcher during his first college season batting .310 (40-for-129) with five home runs and 33 RBI.
He was a 48th round selection in the 2005 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.
Gardner earned his bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State University with a degree in education in 2008. He is originally from Andrews, Texas, graduating from Andrews High School in 2004.
Matt is the son of Rodney Gardner and Vickie Gardner, both graduates of Lubbock Christian University. His father, Rodney, was a 1975 All-American at LCU playing under former Tech head coach Larry Hays. Rodney went on to coach locally in Lubbock as well as at Abernathy and Estacado High School.
Gardner was born in Lubbock on November 2, 1984. He and his wife Laiken were married in October 2015.
THE GARDNER FILE:
Texas Tech won its first NCAA Regional (Coral Gables) during Gardner's first year on the Red Raider coaching staff in 2014 while also winning the NCAA Lubbock Super Regional and advancing to the College World Series in school history.