The Husky skipper took the challenge and also donated to the Pete Frates #3 Fund
Justin Blood enters his sixth season at the University of Connecticut as he serves as the Huskies' pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Blood, a former professional baseball player, was named Associate Head Coach for the Huskies in August of 2010.
Blood spent the summer of 2005 as the pitching coach for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League before joining the UConn baseball program in August of 2005.
Blood helped the Huskies to one of their most successful seasons in Penders' tenure as the UConn ballclub broke into the national rankings in 2010 for the first time since the 1979 season. During the spring of 2010, Blood and the Huskies posted program-best 48-win season, while earning their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1994.
Blood's pitching staff finished the season with an ERA of 3.91, which was good enough for 17th in the nation. The Huskies also struck out 397 batters, the second-best tally in program history, falling short of Blood's 2009 staff, which struck out a program-best 455.
Matt Barnes earned a spot on the 2010 All-BIG EAST First Team as he posted an 8-3 record on the hill for the Huskies with 75 strikeouts and a 3.92 ERA. Elliot Glynn and Kevin Vance were named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team as Glynn finished the year with a 7-3 record and a 2.99 ERA. Vance registered eight saves in 17 appearances to go along with his 1-0 record and an ERA of 2.41. Freshman Dan Feehan was named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament team for his efforts in the league's championship tournament in Clearwater, Fla. as he threw eight innings of work, while he earned one save, one win and struck out 10 batters.
Since 2006, Blood has had 10 UConn pitchers drafted in the Major League Baseball draft, including Elliot Glynn from the 2010 roster.
Under Blood's direction, the UConn pitching staff posted a 3.47 earned run average in 2006, its lowest since the 1989 season before UConn's 2010 finish. The Huskies' team ERA was good for second in the BIG EAST and 17th in the nation. At the conclusion of the season, Tim Norton and Nick Tucci were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. In addition to those honors, Norton, Tucci and John Slusarz were each taken in the Major League Baseball Draft in June of that year.
"Justin is an excellent communicator," said head coach Jim Penders. "His professional experience, work ethic and organizational skills are true assets to our program. His recruiting classes and his track record with improving our pitching staff are both top notch."
In 2009, Blood led the UConn pitching staff to a new single-season record of 455 strikeouts, while posting a program second-best mark of 14 saves. The 2009 season also saw two Husky underclassmen taken in the top-eight rounds of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft (Dan Mahoney - Fourth & Dusty Odenbach - Eighth), while all four 2009 senior hurlers had opportunities to pitch professionally in 2010 (John Folino - 27th Rnd, St. Louis Cardinals; David Erickson - 32nd Rnd, San Diego Padres; Dennis Accomando - Atlanta Braves; Matt McDonald - Worcester Tornadoes).
Blood was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and excelled in the minor leagues before retiring to pursue coaching on the collegiate level. Upon retirement, Blood had accumulated a 3.97 ERA in 82 games as a minor league player with a 7-4 record. He helped to lead the Inland Empire 66ers to the California League Class A title in 2003, posting a 5-2 record with two saves and a 3.07 ERA with 77 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 58.2 innings out of the bullpen.
The New Hampshire native joined the coaching staff at Quinnipiac University in 2003, serving as a volunteer coach, then in 2004 he returned to his alma mater, Franklin Pierce University, to complete his degree and work as the baseball team's student assistant. Blood played three years for Franklin Pierce before being drafted. He ranks among career leaders at the college with 235 strikeouts (second), 12 wins (fourth) and a 4.62 ERA (seventh) in 204.2 innings (fourth) over 38 appearances (third) with 12 complete games (fourth). In 2001, he struck out a program-record 20 New Hampshire College batters, which still ranks fifth in NCAA Division II single-game history.
Blood married the former Hannah Walters in September of 2006. The couple currently resides in Vernon, Conn., with their two children, a son, Jackson Everett, born April 30th, 2008, and daughter Harper McKenna, born September 2nd, 2009.