By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Staff Writer
Atlantic County Institute of Technology is one of the fastest growing schools in South Jersey, the RedHawks have a very involved athletic director in Dr. Robert Wagner, and some nice facilities for the baseball program. All those factors combined made it an ideal place for Sean Coyle to make the jump from Egg Harbor Township assistant and pitching coach to the head man at ACIT.
Coyle is in his first year as a head varsity coach as he takes over for Michael Anthony, who stepped down after last season and who helped build the RedHawks into a competitive team in the Cape-Atlantic League. Coyle said he’s looking to continue to build upon that foundation, and if the early results in 2019 are any indication, he’s well on his way to doing just that. Just a few years ago, ACIT was a fledgling program but now the school is Group 4 with about 1,400 students, and some college prospects are starting to make their way onto the RedHawks’ baseball diamond. Junior pitcher and shortstop Tony Santa Maria has already given a verbal commitment to Division I Iona University and likely will become the first Division I signee in school history during the 2019-2020 school year, and current senior first baseman Kyle Bronco is looking to hook on with a Division II or III program.

New ACIT baseball coach Sean Coyle spent nearly a decade as Egg Harbor Township’s lead assistant and pitching coach. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


Coyle cut his teeth under current EHT coach Bryan Carmichael, who has built the Eagles into one of the top teams in the Cape-Atlantic League and a program that has been getting some recognition at the state level the past couple of seasons. After eight seasons on the bench with the Eagles, Coyle said he was ready to make the leap to head coach.
“I was very fortunate the past eight years with Bryan at EHT. He’s a baseball guru, and we were able to be the yin and yang together. A lot of the stuff I do is based on what we did at EHT. Some of the things I maybe press a little bit more on. I understand that maybe the depth isn’t there yet, but we want the depth to get there and that’s going to take some time, but we’ll eventually build it up,” Coyle said. “I’ve been a part of big games, big wins, big losses — you just have to take the good with the bad and understand that these are high school kids. They are so excited to be out here, they’re happy and they love the kind of baseball we’re playing — we’re bunting, we’re slashing, we’re stealing, putting pressure on teams. That’s what we want to do, and we want to pound the strike zone, make the other team put the ball in play and keep our pitch counts down. We’re excellent defensively.”
Through its first 11 games, ACIT was 5-6 with wins over Middle Township, St. Joseph, Bridgeton and Atlantic City, and had played well against some of the top teams in the CAL American, such as Millville (7-4 loss) and St. Augustine (8-7 loss after leading 6-1 early). Players said they’ve adapted well to the change in the coaching staff.

Junior pitcher/infielder Tony Santa Maria said the transition from former coach Mike Anthony to Coyle has gone smoothly for the RedHawks. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


“It’s great to have a coach like him here, he’s doing great things for this program and he’s going to continue to do so. I have all the faith in him. It’s been a seamless transition, a lot of new stuff, a lot of great things happening,” Bronco said after the RedHawks’ season-opening win over Middle.
Added Santa Maria, “The coaches we had before pushed us hard and it’s been a pretty seamless transition. Coyle has taught us things we need to know to become a better program, which is going to be beneficial down the line. I have all the faith in the world in these guys, we all have each other’s backs and we’re all aiming toward the same goal. I think it’s going to be tough to beat us this year.”
Coyle said the transition has gone pretty smoothly for him as well.
“I know coach Anthony, we went to the same high school and he’s a great guy. We’ve talked in the past and he’s been very supportive of everything. For me, I feel like I know a little bit about baseball and I’m just trying to get these guys to play the best baseball they can, playing hard and understanding that it takes zero talent to hustle. We put together really good practices where we’re always competing against one another,” he said. “We have goals, but our main goal is to win the next game. And we break it down even further into win the inning, win the pitch, win the at-bat. We get that focused. Every time they step into the batter’s box there’s a new approach and something that needs to be done to help this team win. We preach the little things and when a bunch of little things keep adding up, they become big things.”
Coyle said he won’t consider any big picture tweaks or changes until after the season. For now, as he’s getting his feet wet, he wants to simply focus on the here-and-now, and that’s the same thing he’s preaching to his players.
“All I want these guys to do is live in the moment. When that ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, there’s nothing they can do about it, we just have to be able to make the plays after that,” Coyle said. “I’m still taking it day by day. At times, I sit back and think, ‘wow, a year ago I was at Egg Harbor Township with a great group of kids, and I love those kids, but I love these guys here, too.’ I love what we’re doing here and I just try to take it day by day. I just don’t get too far ahead of myself or I’ll lose my mind.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays