Randy Wells’ short stint as head coach of the Althoff baseball program is over.
The Belleville native and former major-league pitcher is being replaced by Rich Sauget Jr., Althoff Athletic Director Greg Leib said Wednesday.
Sauget is an Althoff graduate and has coached previously with the Crusaders’ football program. He most recently managed the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League.
“We sat down with Randy last week and talked things over and decided we wanted to go a different direction,” Leib said. “We like Randy. He did a good job and worked hard, but sometimes you have to do these kinds of things.”
Leib wouldn’t discuss the specifics of Wells’ release and neither would the former coach. But Wells did say the firing was unexpected and the reasons he was given for it were “made up.”
“The reason they gave me was uncontrollable on my part. It was unexpected, and I think it’s BS,” said Wells, who won 28 games over five seasons pitching for the Chicago Cubs. “Knowing how things work at that school and how fast they found a replacement tells me I was just there to bridge the gap until they got the guy they wanted.”
Wells was hired by Althoff in July 2015.
The Crusaders finished 17-13 in his first season. They slumped to 8-15 with a roster skewed toward underclassmen in 2017.
“When they brought me in, I had every intention of doing the job a long time,” Wells said. “The program was not adequately equipped, and I invested a lot of my own time and money to building it up from the ground up.
“You can’t do anything in two years, but as young as we were, I thought we did well.”
Sauget is a 1991 graduate of Althoff, where he played on two state-championship football teams for coach Glenn Schott and was part of a state baseball title his senior year. He later returned to coach the offensive line for six seasons.
Sauget managed the Grizzlies for a season and worked as their director of player personnel before getting out of coaching, he said, for personal reasons.
“I didn’t really want to get out of it, but had other things I had to tend to personally,” Sauget said. “Coach Leib called me last week, and after talking it through, I decided it was a great fit. I’m looking forward to getting with the kids, and hopefully we’ll be able to learn something from each other.”
Leib said the former Notre Dame player was a natural fit for the vacancy.
“A guy with that kind of background and connection to Althoff, he was too good not to offer the job to,” Leib said. “We’re glad he accepted.”
Wells, who owns K3 Baseball Academy in Belleville, signed on as pitching coach of the Gateway Grizzlies in January of this year but resigned in April, before the season got started, citing personal conflicts.
He clarified Wednesday that those conflicts have more to do with his wife Caroline and their infant son, Rory, than with any overlap with the high school baseball season.
“The timing just wasn’t right,” he said. “I love coaching, and it’s still something I want to keep pursuing. It was was a tough draw at Althoff, but something will come along.”