Eric Cirella was officially named the fifth head coach in the history of the Salve Regina baseball program in June 2013, returning to his alma mater and replacing his father, Steve, who stays on staff as an assistant coach after a 14-year tenure as head coach of the Seahawks.
In only his third year at the helm, Cirella led the 2016 Seahawks over Endicott College in the CCC title game to give Salve Regina its first baseball championship since 2005 (the 2005 team was captained by Cirella). The Seahawks advanced to the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional where they were narrowly defeated by #25 St John Fisher (College World Series participant) 6-5 and #10 Salisbury 5-3. Salve Regina won 26 games for the third consecutive season, while beating ranked opponents (#14 Amherst, #7 Southern Maine), as well as NCAA qualifiers (Salem State, Mitchell). More impressive was Salve Regina’s .542 strength of schedule (SOS), which was the highest in program history (66 of 382 in the nation). The Seahawks were regionally ranked by the NCAA committee for the third time in four seasons. The 2016 squad also performed in the classroom where they accumulated a GPA of 3.24.
Overall, the 2016 Seahawks had one of the most dangerous offenses in the entire country, boasting a .326 team batting average and an OPS of .870. Their 481 hits were most all time in a single season. Nine players were selected to All-CCC teams while four earned All-New England recognition (program records). Senior Ryan Kelly (OF) and sophomore Alex Perry (1B) were All-New England selections for a second time, while freshman Tristan Dacey (DH) and Zack Smith (OF) were first time honorees. Smith was also tagged D3baseball’s Rookie of the Year in the New England region.
In 2015, one of the youngest Salve Regina baseball teams in recent history (20 freshman) captured the ECAC Championship, coming from behind to beat Framingham State in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Seahawks matched their 26 wins from the previous season, finishing 26-16 while winning 14 of their last 16 contests.
Freshman Alex Perry was the CCC Rookie and Player of the Year (a first in the history of CCC Baseball). Additionally, Perry was garnered 1st Team All-New England (NEIBA & D3 Baseball) as well as Rawlings ABCA 3rd Team All-American. This was the program’s first All-America honoree since Cirella 10 years prior (2005).
In his first full season as the Salve Regina head coach in 2014, the Seahawks posted a 26-15 record, placed six players on the all-CCC teams, and qualified for the ECAC postseason tournament as a two seed. Additionally, Salve Regina appeared in two (of three) northeast regional rankings by the NCAA – a first in program history. Senior LHP Vin Roth and sophomore OF Ryan Kelly were both named 2nd Team All-New England (NEIBA). Kelly also earned 3rd Team All-Region by D3Baseball.
Cirella rejoined the 2013 Seahawk coaching staff as associate head coach after spending the previous six seasons (2007-2012) as an assistant coach for the University of Rhode Island Rams. Cirella helped guide the Salve Regina baseball team to a 29-12 record, the second highest win total in program history and a 15 win increase from the prior season (the 15 win increase from the year prior was the second highest in the country in 2013). The Seahawks had six all-CCC selections (four on first team) and freshman OF Ryan Kelly was named CCC Rookie of the Year. Additionally, junior catcher Dominic Di Sano was named First Team All-New England (NEIBA/D3Baseball.com), while junior Tyler Colby was a Second Team All-New England selection at DH (D3Baseball.com). The 2013 Seahawks finished top 50 nationally in a dozen offensive/team categories.
In each of Cirella’s six years at URI, the Rams qualified for the Atlantic-10 Tournament, while boasting a .647 Atlantic-10 winning percentage over that time span. In addition, URI won over 30 games five straight seasons (2008-2012), knocked off nine nationally ranked opponents, had eight players taken in the MLB draft, saw over a dozen former Rams go on to play professional baseball, and finished the year ranked as the top Division I baseball team in New England by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) following the 2009 and 2012 seasons. Nick Greenwood (LHP) made his MLB debut for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014, while earning a victory in his first appearance out of the bullpen.
As third base coach for the University of Rhode Island, Cirella was responsible for the base running, bunting, and situational hitting, as well as working with the outfielders defensively. In 2012, sophomore centerfielder Jeff Roy was named Atlantic-10 Player of the Year. In the same season URI tied a single-season team record for stolen bases, swiping 122 bags in 155 chances and placing them fifth in the country in stolen bases and sixth in stolen bases per game (2.07). The 2011 Rams ranked fourth in the country in stolen bases per game (2.17) and ninth in total stolen bases (117). From 2009-2012, the Rams averaged over 112 stolen bases per season.
Cirella also served as assistant recruiting coordinator for the Rams. URI's 2011 and 2010 recruiting classes were featured in Baseball America's listing of top classes by region (outside of the Top 25). Also in 2010, the Rhode Island baseball team received votes in Collegiate Baseball's poll of the nation's Top-40 Recruiting Classes for 2010. The Rams were the only club from New England - and one of just two Atlantic 10 programs - to appear on the list.
Cirella has also spent three seasons coaching in top summer collegiate leagues around the country. Cirella was also named the Head Coach of the Ocean State Waves in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) for the summer of 2014, where he managed the Waves for two seasons. Both the 2014 & 2015 teams qualified for the NECBL playoffs, while 14 players were selected in the MLB draft.
In 2008, Cirella was selected as the hitting instructor for the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League. Offensively, the Bullfrogs led the league in five offensive team categories, including average, hits, doubles, triples, and total bases. Additionally, 10 players from Green Bay's 2008 team were selected in the 2009 and 2010 MLB Draft, including four picks that went in the top 15 rounds. Josh Prince (Tulane) made his MLB debut in 2013 for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cirella began his coaching career in 2005-06 at Salve Regina University, helping the Seahawks win a school record 32 games (32-13).
A four-year stand-out baseball player at Salve Regina University, Cirella was an All-Conference and Academic All-Conference member four years while also earning the 2004 Brother Michael Reynolds Award for outstanding accomplishment in academics and athletics. He also was SRU's Male Athlete of the Year in 2004-2005, and was a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-America© (2003-2005) in addition to earning ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America of the Year award in 2005.
Following his junior (2004) and senior (2005) seasons at Salve Regina, he was selected All-New England First Team and was a Rawlings ABCA All-American at SS and OF.
As a senior captain in 2005, Cirella helped guide a young Seahawks team to a conference championship and only the second NCAA appearance in the program's history. He was named to the Northeast all-tournament team following the regional.
Cirella still owns many of the single-season and career records at Salve Regina. His .447 lifetime batting average is 24th highest in the history of NCAA Division III baseball and is the seventh highest among players with over 450 at bats. From May 2, 2003 to April 6, 2005, Cirella stole 50 consecutive bases without being caught, placing him fourth all-time.
As the NCAA leader in batting average (.504) and bases on balls (49) his senior year, Cirella was honored with the Vin Cullen Award for small college achievement by Words Unlimited. He signed professionally with the Rockford Riverhawks of the Frontier League in 2006, while eventually landing in the Can-Am League with the New Haven County Cutters.
Cirella graduated magna cum laude from Salve Regina University with a B.S. in Financial Management in May of 2005. He was a member of the Dean's List four straight years and graduated with an impressive 3.87 GPA, the highest GPA of any finance graduate in 2005. He was also the CCC Senior Scholar Athlete for Baseball in 2005.
In 2010, he finished his master's degree in Communication Studies at the URI School of Communication, where he has also taught as a graduate instructor from 2007-2009.
In October of 2011, he was the youngest ever inductee into the Salve Regina Athletic Hall of Fame.