Hartford announced the hiring of Justin Blood, the Associate Head Coach at UConn yesterday, May 31. Blood will begin his new role immediately following the conclusion of the Huskies' season. UConn is scheduled to play an NCAA Tournament game Friday against Coastal Carolina as the two seed in the Clemson Regional.
The Hawks finished the 2011 season 6-43-1 (3-20 America East) and placed fifth in the league standings. Assistant Coach Jerry Shank stepped up into the Interim Head Coach role during the last month of the season.
Here's the full release from the University of Hartford:
West Hartford, Conn. – Justin Blood, the Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Connecticut the past six years, has accepted the Head Baseball Coach position at the University of Hartford. A key architect of the Huskies’ rise to national prominence in recent years, Blood will assume his new role immediately following the Huskies’ postseason run.
“Justin is one of the brightest coaching talents in the game today,” said Director of Athletics Pat Meiser in announcing the appointment. “He has played a vital role in elevating University of Connecticut baseball and he has done a wonderful job in not only recruiting but developing talent. Justin is regarded as a person of high integrity and a good communicator. Hartford baseball has a bright future under his leadership.”
Blood joined the University of Connecticut staff in 2006 and in that time the Huskies have emerged on the national scene. The University of Connecticut won 48 games last year and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994. This year, the nationally-ranked Huskies have won 41 games on their way to a Big East regular-season title and a return trip to the NCAA tournament. Blood has been responsible for recruiting a wealth of talent, including All-Americans and projected high draft picks in outfielder George Springer and pitcher Matt Barnes. Blood’s pitching staffs have been among the national leaders in ERA and 10 pitchers have been drafted during his time at the University of Connecticut.
“My family and I are extremely excited about joining the University of Hartford family. I want to thank President Harrison, Pat Meiser, Jim Keener and all the committee members for believing in me and extending this opportunity,” said Blood. “I would also like to thank the University of Connecticut and Jim Penders for the opportunities and experiences they provided for me over the course of the last six years.”
“I’m looking forward to starting the process of building the Hartford baseball program into a consistent winner. We will recruit and develop the players necessary to compete for America East Championships. This is an exciting time for past, present and future Hawks.”
Blood is a former professional player, having been drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 after playing three seasons at Franklin Pierce University. He appeared in 82 games in the minor leagues while posting a 7-4 record and a 3.97 ERA before retiring. Blood then spent a year on the Quinnipiac University coaching staff (2003) before returning to his alma mater to complete his degree and work as the baseball team’s assistant.
As a player at Franklin Pierce, Blood is among the Ravens top five in five career categories including second place in strikeouts (235). He once struck out 20 New Hampshire College hitters, which still ranks fifth in NCAA Division II single-game history.
Blood also spent a year in the Cape Cod League (2005) as the pitching coach for Yarmouth-Dennis.
Blood becomes the 14th coach in the history of the University of Hartford baseball program and was selected from a candidate pool in excess of 160 applicants. The Hartford baseball program has produced numerous professional players including Jeff Bagwell and Earl Snyder who both played in the major leagues. Bagwell is a future Hall of Famer.
A New Hampshire native, Blood resides in Vernon, Connecticut, with his wife Hannah, their two children, son Jackson (3) and daughter Harper (1).