Tassi earns preseason pitcher of the year honors
UWM welcomes more pitching
Panthers sign four more pitchers to impressive staff
Guth goes in ninth round; Semmelhack in 12th
Team leads league in ERA in 2012
Cory Bigler enters his 10th season as an assistant at his alma mater. Bigler serves as Milwaukee's head assistant coach as well as pitching coach. He also assists with recruiting.
The pitching staff continued its dominance in 2012, setting a program record for the second-straight year in the earned run average category, with the 3.73 ERA bettering the previous mark by nearly half a run. The staff had the top two leaders in strikeouts and three of the top seven in ERA, with first-team all-league selection Cale Tassi leading the Horizon League at 2.74 - the second-lowest for a starter in program history.
In addition, two players - Jordan Guth (Philadelphia Phillies; ninth round) and Eric Semmelhack (Milwaukee Brewers; 12th round) - were selected in the 2012 MLB Draft with Kaleb Engelke also signing a professional contract.
Milwaukee finished second in the league in ERA and was first in strikeouts in 2011, with Chad Pierce earning Horizon League Pitcher of the Year honors. He went on to be selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2011 MLB Draft.
It was a record-breaking season overall for the staff, as the team ERA was the lowest in program history to that point. The strikeout total broke the school record, as well as the six shutouts that were thrown in 2011. In addition, the .258 opponent average was the second-lowest in team history, just off the program record of .256.
The Panthers led the Horizon League in earned run average in 2010 and went 4-1 in the league tournament, riding strong pitching to the championship. The team recorded a 2.66 ERA in the five games, limiting opponents to just a .247 batting average.
Under Bigler's watch in 2009, three members of his staff ended the season among the top seven in earned run average in league contests. In conference games, the Panthers led the Horizon League in ERA by half a run per game (3.68 to 4.37).
"Cory has really poured his heart and soul into his job here, whether it is recruiting, field work, office work or practice," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "He does it with everything he has. We work hand-in-hand on all aspects of the program and he has been such a great asset. We are blessed to have him."
In 2008, Brad Lusti stepped in immediately as a weekend starter for UWM and earned Horizon League All-Newcomer Team honors. He led the team with a 4.24 ERA that ranked eighth in the Horizon League and had a team-high 53 strikeouts. He also helped Andy Hetebrueg to six wins on the year (third in the league), including a stretch of victories in four-straight starts.
In 2007, Robert Michalkiewicz earned second team all-league honors, leading the conference in shutouts and complete games while setting UWM records for career games started, innings pitched and with his streak of 22.1 consecutive scoreless innings. The staff also posted the first one-hitter since April of 2003.
Rick Cavaiani recorded the best winning percentage in school history in 2006, going 8-2 with seven-consecutive wins at one point in earning all-league honors. Jed Dolske finished with a 2.33 ERA and seven saves, setting the school record for career saves while becoming just the second-ever Panther to pitch in more than 100 games. Aaron Sorenson earned Horizon League Newcomer of the Year honors in 2005. The junior hurler tied the school-record with nine victories and also tied school records for strikeouts in a game with 13 against Butler and consecutive wins in one season with seven-straight.
Bigler worked with an injury-riddled pitching staff in 2004 but was still able to mold the unit into a solid group. Junior hurler Ben Stanczyk was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year with a 7-3 record and four saves while freshman Robert Michalkiewicz also excelled in his first year at UWM. Stanczyk was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2004 season and has steadily moved up in the organization since his rookie season.
A three-year letterwinner from 1993-95, Bigler transferred to Milwaukee from UW-Oshkosh, where he played in 1992. At UWM, the righthander posted an 11-8 record, pitching 136.0 innings in 21 starts. Bigler's best season came in 1994 when he posted a staff-best 4.26 earned run average to go along with a team-high 47 strikeouts. Following that season, Bigler was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Bigler played two seasons of professional baseball.
Even while playing during his college years, coaching has always been in Bigler's blood. Bigler served as a part-time and full-time pitching instructor at Mike Hegan's Field of Dreams from 1995-2001 while also serving as the pitching coach at Cardinal Stritch University in 1996-97. Bigler added to his impressive resume by serving as the varsity pitching coach at the high school level, coaching at Whitnall High School from 1998-2002 and Brookfield Central High School in 2003.
In addition to his credentials as a pitching coach, Bigler has also served as the coordinator and instructor of the Bigler Baseball Summer camps each of the last nine years. The Bigler Summer Camps are run by Cory and feature instruction on all aspects of the game.
Bigler and his wife, Marci, reside in Brookfield with their three children: daughters Emery and Peyton, and son Brooks.