A member of the Liberty baseball coaching staff since July 2016, Bryant Gaines serves as the Flames' pitching coach and assists in all aspects of the Liberty baseball program.
The Flames pitching staff has posted a lower ERA, walked fewer batters, recorded more strikeouts and held opponents to lower batting average in each year than in 2016, the year prior to his arrival. In addition, Liberty has been among the conference leaders in wins, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts, hits allowed and opponent batting average.
With freshman pitchers throwing 215 2/3 innings of Liberty's 510 1/3 innings pitched in 2018, the Flames were among the Big South leaders in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, saves and opponent batting average. Two of those freshman, Brady Stamper and Noah Skirrow, each earned Big South Freshman of the Week honors during the season.
Second-year pitcher Garret Price, who pitched more innings and increased his strikeouts over his freshman year in 2017, went on to be an all-conference selection, Jackson Bertsch also flourished during his senior season. The right-hander lowered his ERA by 2.50 runs over his 2017 season, while pitching 25 more innings. Bertsch and fellow right-hander Jack DeGroat went on to be selected in the 2018 MLB Draft. DeGroat was chosen by the Cleveland Indians in the 11th round, while Bertsch was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 29th round.
In 2017, the Flames pitching staff's first under Gaines' watch, Liberty allowed the fewest runs in the Big South Conference and finished second in ERA. With only one new pitcher on the staff from the previous season, the Flames' lowered their ERA by over one run and yielded 100 less bases on balls than in 2016.
DeGroat, who went on to be a Cape Cod All-Star during the summer of 2017, lowered his ERA by over 1.50 runs and struck out five more batters per nine innings than the previous year in 2017. Senior Caleb Evans, who was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft, also significantly lowered his ERA by over 4.50 runs from the previous season.
Gaines spent nine seasons as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heel program. During his time with the Tar Heels, North Carolina advanced to five College World Series, including four consecutive appearances as a player from 2007-11.
A number of mound standouts pitched for the Tar Heels during Gaines' time in Chapel Hill.
Eight Carolina pitchers went on to be drafted or sign major league contracts during his four years on the Tar Heel coaching staff. In addition, three UNC pitchers earned All-American and All-Region honors, while five pitchers, including 2013 ACC Pitcher of the Year Kent Emanuel were selected All-ACC perfomers.
Gaines battled back from Tommy John surgery twice, once in 2004 and once in 2009, during his time at North Carolina, to make 35 appearances for the Tar Heels and served as team captain in 2010 and 2011. Off the field, he was an Athletic Director Scholar Athlete award winner and a John Lotz Scholar Athlete Award winniner in 2011. Gaines graduated from North Carolina in 2011 with a degree in sports administration and a minor in coaching.
A Coastal Plains League All-Star as a player during the summers of 2007 and 2011, the Weddington, N.C. native was the head coach of the Coastal Plains League's Wilson Tobs in 2015. He recruited the entire 40-man roster, seeing two of his pitchers, Jared Janczak of TCU and Carson Teel of Oklahoma State go on to pitch, while Cole Bedford caught for Texas A&M in the 2016 College World Series. Six members of the Tobs, Janczak, Teel, Carson Sherrod of Texas A&M, Marcus Mooney of USC, Chris Clare of High Point and Trey York of ETSU were all drafted by MLB teams.
Gaines is married to the former Riley Foster, who played field hockey at North Carolina. Foster played on two national championship teams during her four years with the Tar Heels.