Entering his 25th season as the ThunderWolves' head coach, Stan Sanchez has built one of the winningest NCAA Division II baseball programs in the nation at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Nine regional tournament appearances (the latest in 2015), a West Regional Championship and a fifth-place showing at the 1996 Division II College World Series can attest to that.
When CSU-Pueblo reinstated the ThunderWolves' baseball program in 1994 after a nine-year hiatus, Sanchez led the way from the moment he was offered the job.
In a bold statement at a press conference announcing the new coach, Sanchez promised that his program would be playing for the national championship in four years. As he promised, the ThunderWolves did.
In that first season, the Pack qualified for and hosted the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Tournament, and two years later, won the West Regional Tournament and advanced to the College World Series, placing fifth.
Entering the 2015 season, Sanchez, the ThunderWolves' all-time winningest baseball coach, has a record of 756-482-1 (.610 winning percentage). He has the most wins of any active coach in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and last season became just the 49th coach in NCAA Division II history to eclipse the 700 career wins mark. Sanchez ranks in the top-20 nationally among active Division II coaches in career victories. Throughout his entire career at all levels, he has more than 1,000 coaching wins.
From his athletic days at San Gorgonio High School and Cal State-Fullerton, on through his 30-year coaching career, Sanchez relied on his hustle and devotion to get the job done.
Those traits helped Sanchez land the head baseball coach position on Jan. 22, 1993. Once he accepted the position, Sanchez hit the ground running.
The ThunderWolves have been ranked in the NCAA Division II's Top 30 poll over 60 times, with the highest ranking coming in 2004 when the Pack held down the #2 spot for two weeks. In fact, for all but two weeks in 2004, the ThunderWolves had bettered their previous-best in the polls, which had been #8 in 1996.
The Pack won the 1994 Mile High Intercollegiate Baseball League title, the 1994 & 1995 Colorado Athletic Conference championship, the 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2013 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles, and the mother of them all, the 1996 NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament championship.
Sanchez's hard work has been recognized by his peers also, voting him MHIBL and RMAC Coach of the Year in 1994, 1996 and 2001 respectively, as well as the West Region Coach of the Year in 1996.
He has led numerous ThunderWolves to all-conference honors and has had numerous players earn All-American accolades.
In 1996, Sanchez went a step further in his quest for a national championship, winning the West Regional Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Division II College World Series in Montgomery, Ala. Although the ThunderWolves were eliminated after a 1-2 record, they put their stamp on the Division II Baseball scene.
Sanchez's club returned to NCAA regional action in 2001, after his club won the regular season RMAC crown and established a school record for most victories in a season (45) and longest win streak (17).
In 2002, Sanchez took the Pack back to regional action, and the club finished second at the West Regional while posting a 43-17 mark.
In 2004, the Sanchez-led T-Wolves made their foray into previously uncharted territory for any CSU-Pueblo program. The Pack rattled off a 44-10-1 season to claim the RMAC Title and the top seed in the West Region Championship. However, a grueling tournament left CSU-Pueblo one game short of the Championship. In the process, Sanchez's squad earned the highest-ever national ranking for a CSU-Pueblo team, appearing second in two NCBWA polls in April.
One of Sanchez' greatest coaching jobs occurred in 2009, leading the ThunderWolves to the 2009 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament championship with largely the same roster that finished out of the running for a playoff spot just a year before. The team led the nation in runs, hits, doubles and triples, and finished fourth in the nation in batting with a .369 mark. The Pack finished third in the NCAA Division II Central Regionals, its second-highest finish at a regional in school history.
CSU-Pueblo returned to the regional stage in 2013, accomplishing a first by winning the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference on the most enemy of turf - at Colorado Mesa's Suplizio Field - to claim its 5th conference tournament championship and its eighth conference title overall.
The Pack returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2015 after putting together its seventh 40-win season in program history. CSU-Pueblo finished the year 41-16 overall and won a program-record 28 RMAC games. The ThunderWolves advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament for the ninth time in program history, finishing third thanks to a 2-2 record. The Pack strung together the second-longest winning streak in program history (15 games) to vault them to a season-best national ranking of No. 8 during the regular season.
In 2016, Sanchez won his 1,100th game as a coach by defeating Regis 10-4 in game one of a doubleheader. He also guided the Pack to its second consecutive RMAC Plains Division Championship.
Sanchez celebrated his 800th win at CSU-Pueblo April 9, 2017 with a win over Adams State and New Mexico Highlands. He became the first coach in RMAC history to reach 800 wins at any institution.
The road to success all started in 1973. Sanchez took over the head baseball coach position at San Bernardino High School, leading them to the Ivy League Championship in his first year.
He then moved on to Aquinas High School in 1977.
From 1979-81, Sanchez's teams claimed three consecutive De Anza League Championships while he earned three coach of the year honors.
In 1982, Sanchez moved up to the junior college ranks at San Bernardino Valley. All he did there was win three divisional titles, claim three Foothill Athletic Conference Championships and earn three state regional crowns. In 1986, Sanchez was named Foothill Conference Coach of the Year.
During his tenure at Valley, Sanchez was also involved in developing the San Bernardino Spirit, a minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners organization, and even had a hand in coaching future-hall-of-famer Ken Griffey, Jr.
Prior to being named the ThunderWolves' head coach, Sanchez was an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge, an NCAA I program.