On June 27, 2013, Virginia Tech announced the hiring of Patrick Mason as the baseball program’s newest head coach and, as Mason announced during the press conference that introduced him as the new coach, Mike Kunigonis – a long-time assistant – was promoted to Associate Head Coach.
Kunigonis will enter his sixth season on the Hokies’ bench and the 12th as a coach at the collegiate level. He served the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Tech in charge of the team’s offense and manager of the outfielders. Before that, he spent two seasons as a volunteer assistant coach for Tech and has been on staff for both of the Hokies’ NCAA appearances the last four seasons.
In his current role, Kunigonis will continue working with the offense and outfielders, but will also take over as the recruiting coordinator.
His efforts over the past three seasons with the Hokies have shown from an offensive standpoint and can certainly be seen on the national level. Most notably, Tech had two players – Andrew Rash (2011) and Tyler Horan (2012, who finished second) – compete in the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby.
In 2011, the offensive numbers included finishing nationally in the top 10 in six categories, fourth in doubles per game (2.4), triples per game (0.51) and overall triples (28) – which also set the school single season record. The Hokies were fifth in home runs per game (1.09) and slugging percentage (.485). They were also in the top 40 in overall doubles (14th, 132) and scoring (38th, 6.7 runs per game).
Following the season, two Hokies were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft in Tim Smalling (15th round) and Rash (36th round).
The 2012 season saw the Hokies finish in the top 50 in the country in five offensive categories, 26th in home runs per game (0.80), 29th in doubles per game (2.02), 31st in both overall home runs (44) and slugging (.434) and 50th in overall doubles (111).
It was another offensive season for Tech in 2013, finishing in the top 50 in eight offensive categories and just missing out on a ninth – ranking 52nd in batting average (.291), the team’s highest ranking nationally as a member of the ACC. Other rankings include eighth in total home runs (55), 10th in total doubles (129), 15th in home runs per game (0.89), 22nd in both hits (639) and slugging (.440), 23rd in doubles per game (2.08), 33rd in runs scored (398) and 40th in scoring (6.4 runs per game).
Following the season, the MLB draft saw Chad Pinder become the seventh highest Hokie ever taken in the MLB draft (second round) and Horan become the 14th highest ever draft pick (eighth round) from the school.
In all, while Kunigonis has been on the Hokies’ bench, a total of eight position players have been selected in the MLB draft and not one of them had been chosen out of high school and just one player was picked out of a junior college (Steve Domecus) and, after two seasons at Tech, improved his draft position by almost 30 rounds by 2010.
Before working in Blacksburg, Kunigonis spent the 2008 season at nearby Radford, where he served as the volunteer assistant. Before coming to the New River Valley, he spent five seasons as a full-time assistant, which included three years at Canisius College and two at Niagara University.
Prior to his coaching career, Kunigonis played four seasons at American International College and was named an All-Region, All-Conference and All-ECAC first baseman as a senior in 2001. He received the Butova Sportsmanship Award for excellence on and off the field.
The Worcester, Mass., native earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from AIC in 2001, and he completed his master’s degree in sport administration while at Canisius in 2006.
Kunigonis and his wife, Amy, the athletic trainer for Tech’s women’s basketball team, reside in Blacksburg.