'I’m so happy and so, so excited' - City native Phil Price is named Worcester State baseball coach

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Phil Price becomes Worcester State's 12th baseball head coach.
Phil Price becomes Worcester State's 12th baseball head coach.

WORCESTER — New Worcester State baseball coach Phil Price grew up in Worcester until he was 13, when he moved to Oakham and later graduated from Quabbin Regional. About eight years ago, Price and his wife, Erin, returned to live in Price’s beloved hometown, and they’ve been here since.

“I’m a Worcester kid through and through,” Price said Thursday afternoon while watching his son, Gavin, and his Worcester Bravehearts teammates play the New Britain Bees at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.

Earlier Thursday, Worcester State named the 42-year-old Price the 12th coach in program history.

“To be the coach at Worcester State University in the city where I was born and raised is pretty cool,” Price said. “I’m so happy and so, so excited.”

Price’s father, Phil Jr., is a Worcester State graduate.

Price, who played at Fisher College, is the founder and president of baseball operations for Evolution Baseball, which is located in West Boylston and is one of the top travel baseball programs in Massachusetts. Price coaches Evolution’s 17U team, which has five Division 1 commits on its roster. Price previously coached at Quabbin Regional and Oxford High.

“I have had firsthand experience evaluating Phil Price as a coach and administrator over the last 10 years,” said Worcester State director of athletics Michael Mudd, whose sons, Tyler and Connor, played for Price. “No doubt he has had a huge impact on (Tyler’s and Connor’s) success and development as baseball players and as young men, not to mention the hundreds of other young student-athletes he has helped mentor during this time.”

New Worcester State University baseball coach Phil Price gets used to his new surroundings with the Lancers.
New Worcester State University baseball coach Phil Price gets used to his new surroundings with the Lancers.

Price replaces Dirk Baker, who retired from the position in May after leading the Lancers for 27 years. Baker is Worcester State’s assistant fitness center manager.

More: 'It has been a great ride' - Worcester State baseball coach Dirk Baker steps aside after 27 seasons

During his tenure, Baker guided the Lancers to a record of 542-418-1, six regular-season MASCAC titles, six MASCAC Tournament championships and six NCAA Tournament appearances. Baker coached three All-Americans, seven MASCAC Players of the Year and more than 100 all-conference selections.

Baker spent most of the 2022 season on an administrative leave of absence, and Worcester State’s assistants, including associate coach Dave Wigren, guided the Lancers to a 19-19 record.

“Coach Baker did an incredible job over the past 27 years establishing tradition and connecting the baseball program to the city of Worcester and surrounding communities,” Price said. “I’m excited to continue that work and become a mentor to the young men who will be attending Worcester State University to receive a first-class education and pursue their dreams of playing college baseball.”

Wigren, who has been with the Lancers since 2000, Todd Smith and Anthony Perry make up Price’s first Worcester State staff.

Smith played for the Lancers and for 11 seasons was the coach at West Boylston High. Perry was a star pitcher at St. John’s High and Assumption. He coached the St. John’s junior varsity team, and he is a pitching instructor at Evolution Baseball.

The Worcester State coaching position will be Price’s first at the college level. Since its founding in 2017, Evolution Baseball has committed more than 50 players to college programs around the country, and Price has enjoyed learning about the recruiting process and meeting college coaches.

“The challenge of it all attracts me (to the Worcester State position),” Price said. “It’s another thing for me to get involved in. I love travel ball, but (this opportunity) elevates me, and I think it’s going to help my growth as a baseball coach and a baseball person.”

The Lancers made NCAA Regional appearances in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2017. This season, Worcester State finished fourth in the MASCAC standings and lost to Salem State in the first round of the conference tourney.

“I’m super competitive,” Price said. “I want to be at the top and bring the program there, but more importantly, I want to be a mentor to these guys. We want to be competitive, but we also want a program that’s going to be respected as not only do we get kids to come to the school, but they’re getting their degrees, and they’re finishing school. That retention is very important to me.”

—Contact Jennifer Toland at jennifer.toland@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenTolandTG.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: City native Phil Price is named Worcester State baseball coach