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Billy Gernon
Position: Head Coach
Year: Freshman
Alma Mater: Indiana
Graduating Year: 1990
Eligibility: Freshman
Phone: 269-276-3205
Email: billy.gernon@wmich.edu
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Gernon Videos

Billy Gernon enters his seventh season at the helm of Bronco baseball in 2017 and his 15th overall as a head coach. Known as one of the most energetic coaches in the country, Gernon has left his mark on the Bronco baseball program in a short period of time after guiding the 2016 squad to the school's first ever MAC Tournament Championship. 

Gernon enters as the eighth head coach of the Bronco baseball program after he was previously the head coach at IPFW for nine seasons before spending the last two as an assistant at Michigan State. Gernon is the all-time winningest coach in IPFW history. 
 
Western Michigan has advanced to the eight-team MAC Tournament in five of the six seasons under Gernon, winning at least one game over a higher seeded opponent in all four.  This progress has come after Gernon inherited a team that broke the school record for losses in 2009 and 2010 and had not made a trip to the postseason tournament since 2008. The Brown & Gold has found success in the MAC Tournament under Gernon, going 9-9 in his six years; a winning percentage that trails just one MAC school in that span. Of the team’s that have qualified, Gernon’s squad has the second most postseason wins in the past six years, thanks in large part to the fact that the Broncos have never gone 0-2 at the MAC Tournament in that span, a stat no other team in the league can boast. Prior to Gernon’s hire, WMU did not win a game in the tournament since 1998.

The 2016 version of WMU baseball made history under Gernon, winning the school's first ever MAC Tournament Championship going 4-1 with wins over No. 2 Ball State, No. 3 Miami, No. 6 Central Michigan and No. 1 Kent State in the MAC Tournament Championship game. WMU fielded .978 in 2016, the highest ever in the school’s history. The team broke a 44-year record previously held by the 1972 squad and was at No. 1 in the nation for three straight weeks. Junior LHP Keegan Akin had a monster year under the guidance of Gernon, breaking the single season strikeout record with 133, surpassing Pat Misch’s 2001 record of 99. Akin also finished second for most innings pitched in a season (109.0), second in career strikeouts (270) and fourth in career innings pitched (278.1). Among his many postseason awards, Akin was selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft to the Baltimore Orioles, making him the highest draft pick in WMU history since 1970. Along with Akin's All-American honors, Gernon also saw a freshman in Connor Smith be named an All-American as well. 
 
The 2015 edition of the Broncos reached the MAC Tournament as the seventh-seed and proceeded to stun the MAC East champion Kent State Golden Flashes, with Derek Schneider hurling a complete game shutout in the first round game to knock the Flashes out of the winners’ bracket.  It was the first post season complete game shutout in WMU history.  WMU just narrowly fell to eventual champion Ohio in the semifinal round, dropping an extra innings decision to the Bobcats.
 
Two Broncos were able to continue their baseball careers at the end of the season, with Brett Sunde (Bishop Foley, H.S) being selected by the Oakland A’s in the 18th round of the 2015 MLB Draft and  teammate Kurt Hoekstra (Grand Rapids Christian H.S)  going in the 21st round to the Atlanta Braves.  Sunde, who was selected as ESPN Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan in 2012,  hit .273 as a junior, notching one home run, 18 doubles, and 32 RBIs while playing the catcher position and batting primarily in the clean-up spot.  Sunde led all MAC hitters in doubles and allowed only one passed ball in 27 games of conference play.  Hoekstra played both middle infield position for the Broncos and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player at the year-end banquet, leading the team in batting average (.322), runs (39), hits (69), triples (3), total bases (105), slugging percentage (.491) and multi-hit games (23).  He ranked second on the squad in doubles (15), RBIs (34), home runs (3), on-base percentage (.401) and stolen bases (6-for-7) and had the third most walks (22).  Junior RHP Gabe Berman (Andover H.S) broke the school record for saves in a career set back in 1989.  Berman has 21 career saves and will be second in MAC history if he posts 10 saves in 2016 and 1st if he should record 14. Senior Jared Kujawa (Bedford H.S) also broke a long standing career record by posting 17 triples, breaking the mark of 15 set in 1989.
 
In addition, junior designated hitter Mitchell Ho was voted a Second Team All-MAC selection by the conference’s head coaches.  In his first season at WMU after playing his first two seasons at the College of San Mateo in California, Ho batted .288 against MAC opponents in 2014 while posting four doubles, one triple, eight runs and nine RBIs.

In the 2014 MAC Tournament, WMU eliminated last year’s MAC Tournament Champion Bowling Green (W, 7-4) and the 2014 MAC regular season champion and No. 1 seed Ball State (W, 4-1). It was just the second time ever and first since 1998 Western Michigan posted two wins in the MAC postseason.  The Broncos finished 3rd in the tournament.  WMU finished 2014 with a 3.89 staff ERA, the lowest for the program since 1993, and concluded the regular season with the second lowest ERA in the conference. The Broncos were stingy with extra base hits, only allowing 13 home runs - fewest since 1993, four triples - fewest since 1976, and 66 doubles - fewest since 1991.  Defensively, the Brown & Gold led the MAC with a .970 season fielding percentage, ranking second best in program history. Offensively, WMU hit 19 triples, most for the program since totaling 26 in 1989.

Western Michigan was rewarded for its outstanding play, as six players were named MAC Player or Pitcher of the Week by the conference office and WMU had four College Sports Madness MAC Player of the Week selections. Shortstop Andrew Sohn (Brother Rice H.S MI) was an All-MAC selection for the second straight season and first-year right-handed pitcher Chad Mayle also earned a conference nod, as both were named Second Team All-MAC. Sohn went on to be drafted in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Sohn had previously been undrafted out of high school, speaking to his development under Gernon, as he became the second highest drafted shortstop ever in WMU history.  He was the highest drafted position player taken from the Mid-American Conference

With clearly stated goals and a vision, Gernon wasted little time in getting Bronco baseball back on track. In 2011, the Broncos secured their first postseason victory in 12 years despite being picked to finish 12th. Under Gernon’s direction, the Broncos made it to the conference tournament as the No. 7 seed and defeated the No. 2 seed and in state rival Central Michigan, 9-7. Western Michigan made a return visit to post season play in 2012 and won its first game as the No. 5 seed, over No. 4 seed Ohio, 4-2, in spite of being selected 11th overall preseason. It was the first time since the MAC instituted the postseason tournament in 1981 that Western Michigan had made back-to-back appearances recording victories in each trip. 

Since arriving in 2011, Gernon has had 21 players selected as MAC Player of the Week, an accolade that did not happen in 2010 and happened only once in 2009. Under Gernon, two Broncos have been named First Team All-MAC and Western Michigan has had three Second-Team All-MAC recognitions, honors that had been elusive since 2008. Five players have been chosen in the MLB draft.  Western Michigan has had 105 players drafted or signed since the draft instituted in 1965.  It is the most of any school in the MAC conference according to baseballreference.com.
  
With Gernon at the controls his impact was felt immediately as the Broncos were ranked 10th in the nation in 2011 for winning percentage improvement of 14 games by the NCAA for posting 26 victories in just his first season. In 2011 under Gernon, the Broncos swept arch rival Ohio for the first time since 1985 and tied the school history mark by successfully sweeping MAC opponents on four occasions. Western Michigan also swept two games from Michigan State in 2011 going 3-5 against Big Ten opponents. The 2011 season culminated with Brian Stroud (31st) and Eric Heckaman (33rd) being selected in the MLB amateur draft by the Detroit Tigers. Bronco pitchers recorded the most saves in school history with 16 led by Heckaman who recorded the second most in a season with 10. Senior second baseman Zach Thoma led the nation in sacrifice bunts. This was only the second time in school history that a Bronco has led the nation in a statistical category since southpaw Greg Brake led the nation in ERA with a 0.95 in 1984. Senior Tim Cross was named First Team Academic All-MAC in 2011.

Academically, the Broncos have posted a 3.0 grade point average in the last 9 semesters under Gernon including the highest gpa on record of 3.25 posted in the fall of 2012. In five seasons under Gernon, 23 players have been honored by the MAC for academic achievement.

Gernon played three seasons at Indiana University Southeast as the ace of the pitching staff and was named the Team MVP as a sophomore. He transferred to Indiana University where he pitched for the Hoosiers, earning wins against Michigan and Purdue and saves against Iowa and Illinois. He earned a Bachelor in General Studies from Indiana in 1990 and earned a Bachelor of Science in eduation from Indiana in 1998. 

Gernon and his wife Annie Gernon (Formally Annie Recker) have been married for 17 years and have two children, Jacob (15) and Abby (13). 

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