ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – UTPB Athletics introduced its newest head baseball coach Gabe Grinder Thursday.
Grinder comes to the Permian Basin from Ottawa University (KS) where he spent four years there. In those four years, Grinder was able to turn Braves baseball into a winning program, even winning its first Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference title.
Ottawa is a private university that competes in the NAIA. The move to UTPB includes a jump into the NCAA for Grinder, a challenge that he says he is ready for.
Grinder inherits a Falcon baseball program that has struggled to maintain success in the last decade. Its last winning season was in 2015, and the Falcons are coming off a 12-37 (.246) season.
“It reminds me of what I took over at Ottawa and it’s a chance to do it at a higher level. I’m a guy who loves challenges, so it was really exciting to get a chance to jump on it,” Grinder said.
UTPB pitchers threw an 11.27 ERA in the 2022 campaign. Grinder, who referred to himself as a pitching guy, says a lot of his focus will be on the mound.
“I think when you see an 11-and-a-half ERA, that’s the first thing. How are you going to be more competitive?” Grinder said. “It’s the first pitching staff I’ve been around that we have more walks than strikeouts, so how do you compete inside the strikezone?”
Grinder is bringing with him a few coaches and players, but primarily the winning culture that he helped establish at Ottawa. That was a big reason why athletic director Todd Dooley gave Grinder the call.
“Gabe out of the gate was somebody we keyed on and we felt like would be a really good fit for us here in Odessa,” Dooley said.