Liberty Flames Head Baseball Coach Scott Jackson has announced the addition of Bryant Gaines as an assistant coach. Gaines will serve as the Flames' pitching coach and assist in all aspects of the Liberty baseball program.
Gaines joins the Liberty staff after four seasons as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heel coaching staff. A former North Carolina pitcher and member of four consecutive College World Series teams, Gaines assisted in all aspects of the Tar Heels' program, focusing on the UNC pitching staff. He also served as the camp director for the Carolina Baseball Camps.
During his four seasons as a member of Head Coach Mike Fox's staff, the Tar Heels won 162 games, including a school-record 59 in 2013. North Carolina made its 10th trip to the College World Series in program history that season, with Gaines having been a part of five of those teams as either a player or a coach.
Gaines mentored a number of mound standouts during his tenure with the Tar Heels. Left-hander Kent Emanuel was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year and earned All-America first team honors in 2013, before being selected by the Houston Astros in the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft. The left-hander led the UNC staff to a 2.81 ERA, which ranked 16th nationally in 2013.
In addition to Emanuel from the 2013 pitching staff, Hobbs Johnson was taken in the 14th round by the Milwaukee Brewers and Chris Munnelly signed as a free agent with Houston. Trent Thornton also earned Freshman All-American honors in 2013, before become an All-ACC performer and weekend starter in 2014. A year later, the right-hander was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft by Houston.
In 2014, Reilly Hovis collected All-ACC first team honors. The sophomore led the Tar Heels with a 9-1 record and a 2.25 ERA. Hovis was drafted in the ninth round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins. Right-hander Zac Gallen emerged as a weekend starter for North Carolina in 2015, earning All-ACC second team honors. This past season, Gallen posted a team-best 2.68 ERA in 13 starts and was selected to all-conference third team, before selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
In addition to Gallen, hard-throwing reliever A.J. Bogucki was drafted in the eighth round by the Washington Nationals. Bogucki had a breakout campaign in 2016, posting a 5-5 record with a 2.86 ERA over 50.1 innings of work, striking out 53 in 28 appearances.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher J.B. Bukauskas also had a strong season in 2016, becoming the first UNC pitcher to earn ABCA/Rawlings Atlantic All-Region First Team since Emanuel. Bukauskas, who also was selected to the United States national team this summer, posted a 7-2 record with 111 strikeouts in 2016.
In 35 career appearances as a Tar Heel pitcher, Gaines posted a 5-0 record at North Carolina. He battled back from Tommy John surgery during his junior year to make 10 appearances as a fifth-year senior.
Gaines graduated from North Carolina in 2011 with a degree in sports administration and a minor in coaching.
Gaines is married to the former Riley Foster, who played field hockey at North Carolina.