Keith Riley and Scott Mullen planned to coach baseball together a long time.
The pair grew up together and played together at Beaufort High School, graduating two years apart. When Mullen resigned unexpectedly as Eagles head coach after two seasons, the plan changed.
Riley, who had assisted Mullen for two summers of American Legion ball and later with the Eagles, asked for the job and got it this week.
"I thought about it, and I didn't want to leave those guys behind," said Riley, a lifelong Beaufort resident who owns a heating and cooling business. "So I stuck with it."
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The 40-year-old former third baseman played at North Greenville after graduating Beaufort High in 1991. Under Mullen, he called plays on offense and coached the infield. He expects to carry over the same philosophies, but hopes to find an assistant coach who has experience working with pitchers, who were Mullen's responsibility.
Riley said he hopes to have assistants in place when practice begins the second week of September.
The Eagles are coming off one of the best seasons in the program's history. The district champions were swept in the Lower State playoffs, but Riley is encouraged with who is expected back -- including the top two starters, Bradley Brown and Carson Gregory.
"We have all of our pitching, which I'm very excited about,' he said. "We have third base (David Tilton) and shortstop (Alex Silon) to fill, which were two good bats."
Beaufort High athletics director Jerry Linn did not have a teaching position available to offer prospective coaches. He said Riley would provide a natural transition for the returning players.
"Coach Riley knows these players and has already earned their respect," Linn said.
Mullen was The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year both his seasons at Beaufort High. The former Major League Baseball pitcher was 34-20 in two seasons.
He resigned in July, citing work and family considerations. Mullen has four children, including a daughter on the Eagles softball team.