Gonzaga University’s junior ace, Darin Blood, is a finance major. His education may come in handy if he’s signing big-league checks soon.
As one of only five Division I college pitchers in the country with 10 victories this season, Blood is a hot commodity among majorleague scouts.
Through Thursday, Blood has a 10-3 record with a 2.45 earnedrun average. He has struck out 110 in 99 innings.
The right-handed Blood is approaching some Pacific-10 Conference North and GU single-season records.
With three more scheduled starts, Blood is 31 innings shy of the conference record of 130, set by Mark Peterson of Portland State in 1992. The GU record is 117, set by Mike Davey in 1973.
Blood is 23 strikeouts shy of the conference record of 133, held by former Washington State’s John Olerud, who has since enjoyed a successful career with the Toronto Blue Jays as a first baseman/designated hitter.
The GU record for strikeouts is 127, set by Billy Walker in 1990. Walker also holds the GU record for most wins in a season with 12.
Blood will be on the mound this weekend when the Bulldogs (10-11 Pac-10 North, 24-21 overall) host Portland State in a doubleheader at Pecarovich Field. The first game is scheduled to start at noon. The teams will play again Sunday at 1 p.m.
Blood has drawn the attention nearly 20 major-league clubs. But those inquiries began well before this season.
“He just had a heck of a summer pitching in the Alaska League,” GU coach Steve Hertz said. “After his summer, I get back into the office and there are all of these agents and scouts and coaches calling me asking about Darin.”
Well then Mr. Blood, the milliondollar (or half-million-dollar, or quarter-million-dollar) question is, will this be your last year of collegiate baseball?
“At this point, I plan on being at Gonzaga for my senior year,” he said. “Right now, that is the plan, but I know there could be an opportunity elsewhere.”
And that opportunity is dependent upon what kind of signing bonus he’d be offered.
“After the (baseball) draft is said and done, if it’s the right figure, I’ll go from there.”
Blood’s climb to the collegiate elite has had its dramatic moments.
Blood graduated from Central Valley in 1992 after transferring from Post Falls.
He moved in with an uncle and aunt, but was ruled ineligible to play baseball his junior year. He sat out the year and returned for his senior year to help the Bears get to the regional playoffs.
As a first-team All-Greater Spokane League pitcher, Blood signed to play his collegiate ball at GU - the only team that recruited him.
“At the time I transferred, there was no high school baseball at Post Falls,” Blood said. “I just played Legion ball in the summer.”
In 1991 he was named most valuable player of the Scott Klaudt Memorial American Legion Tournament in Missoula.
“I think what is remarkable about Darin is that he is still blooming,” Hertz said. “He was effective as a freshman. Last year he started learning, but when he came back from Alaska, the physical and mental confidence was all there.”
Hertz believes that Blood’s attentiveness to instruction, whether it’s from Hertz, GU catcher Andy Norton or Darin’s father Virgil, is a key factor to Darin’s success.
“He comes from a great family (Virgil and Vivian are his parents),” Hertz said. “But Virgil, he’s got a great baseball mind. He’s the one that gets the credit for teaching Darin how to pitch, and in what circumstances he should use certain pitches.”
But in spite of Blood’s bright future, he is preoccupied with this season - a season in which Gonzaga has not been consistent on the field.
In April, GU went 5-2 in its first seven games, 2-5 in the next seven and 3-2 in the last five.
“This weekend is extremely big,” Blood said. “If we lose a couple more, that could be it.”
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