JONESBORO, Ark. (7/21/17) – Arkansas State head baseball coach Tommy Raffo announced the hiring of Rick Guarno, previously of UT Martin, as an assistant coach Friday afternoon.
Guarno most recently served as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Skyhawks for the past three seasons, which coincided with some of the best seasons in school history. UT Martin won 30 Ohio Valley Conference games during his tenure for the most OVC wins in a three-year span in school history. Last season, UTM won 25 games, which were the most in the Division-I Era (since 1992) for the program and qualified for the OVC Tournament for just the third time in school history.
“We are excited to add Rick Guarno to the Red Wolves baseball family,” Raffo said. “He brings a high level of successful playing experiences from Division I and professional baseball. He is a passionate and energetic coach that will bring a unique dimension to the diamond and hustle on the recruiting trail. We welcome Rick and his family to the Jonesboro community and Arkansas State University.”
The 2017 version of Guarno's offense ranked in UT Martin's top-five in single-season history in hits (569, third), home runs (43, third), total bases (833, third), doubles (105, fourth), walks (205, fourth) and triples (15, fifth). He also helped Connor Aube earn Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball after successfully recruiting him to UTM.
The Skyhawks' offense in 2016 set the school record for walks with 231, while recording the most runs scored (340), hits (554), doubles (106) and RBI (318) since 2010. His first season with the program in 2015 saw UT Martin nearly double its home run total from the previous year with 39, which was fourth most in school history. Guarno was also responsible for recruiting two All-OVC Freshman Team players, UT Martin's all-time career saves leader (Patrick Bernard), one high school Preseason All-American, and one high school All-American during his time with the university.
“I'd like to thank Coach Raffo and Arkansas State University for trusting me with such a tremendous opportunity,” Guarno stated. “A-State has a proud baseball history that I can't wait to be a part of, both on and off the field. I look forward to developing current and future Red Wolves as we aim to continue the great tradition of Arkansas State baseball.”
Prior to his time at UT Martin, Guarno served as the recruiting coordinator for current UTM head coach Rick Robinson at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga. During his two seasons at the school he coached five All-Conference players, one All-American, and one Academic All-American. The All-American was Zach Bricknell, who hit a school record 22 home runs and led the nation.
The 2014 version of the Mountain Lions' offense ranked fifth nationally in home runs per game (1.0), seventh in home runs (50), 18th in walks (216), 25th in scoring per game (7.1 runs), and 26th in slugging percentage (.444). The offense in Guarno's first season in 2013 led the nation in home runs per game (1.4), ranked second in home runs (66), seventh in slugging percentage (.493), 17th in scoring per game (7.6 runs), and 27th in runs scored (366).
Before his time at Young Harris, Guarno spent the 2011 and 2012 campaigns at his alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 2012, he helped the Trojans set program records for most home runs and triples in a single season. The Trojans ranked first in the nation in home runs per game (1.22), third in slugging percentage (.477) and sixth in scoring (7.4 runs per game). In 2011, he was part of the staff that led the Trojans to a 2011 Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship and the program's first-ever NCAA Regional appearance.
Working primarily with the catchers at UALR, Guarno coached All-Sun Belt first-team catchers Myles Parma, Nick Rountree and Blake Johnson. Parma hit a team-best .350 with a .439 on-base percentage in 2011 while Rountree belted a team-high seven homers to go along with 14 doubles and 35 RBI in 2011. Johnson hit .314 with 14 doubles and six home runs in 2012. In total, five players achieved All-SBC status during his tenure, with two being named to ABCA All-Region teams, and Sean Bignall being named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award.
A catcher by trade, Guarno was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round (107th overall) of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft. He played seven seasons of professional baseball, earning a call-up to Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2008 after tallying a .290 batting average and .342 on-base percentage with five homers and 15 RBI, in 27 games at Double-A Tulsa. He played in 24 games at the Triple-A level and hit seven doubles, two triples, a home run, and drove in 10 runs.
All in all, Guarno hit .252 with 56 doubles, 15 long balls, and 108 RBI in six seasons of affiliated baseball in the Rockies' organization. He ended his professional baseball career with the Calgary Vipers of the independent Golden League. He hit .308 with 27 doubles, nine homers, and 53 RBI to help the Vipers win the league championship.
Guarno played his last season of collegiate baseball at UALR before being drafted after his junior year. He picked up All-Sun Belt first-team accolades and second-team ABCA Rawlings All-South Central Region honors in 2003. He started 55 games at catcher as a junior, hitting .344 with 27 doubles, 54 runs scored, 48 RBI's and a .555 slugging percentage.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Guarno began his collegiate career at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he was a two-year starter at catcher and in the corner outfield. He hit .342 as a freshman to help the Retrievers advance to the 2001 NCAA Regional. He followed with a solid sophomore campaign when he registered a .323 batting average with 10 doubles to help UMBC to a 20-7 conference record and a Northeast Conference championship game appearance.
Guarno attended Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, NY, where he was a two-time City-Catholic League All-Star. He ranked seventh in his graduating class and was a member of the National Honor Society. He graduated from UALR in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts.