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South Carolina Announces Hiring of Justin Parker as Pitching Coach

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 8:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA - The University of South Carolina baseball program and head coach Mark Kingston have announced the hiring of Justin Parker as the pitching coach for the Gamecocks.

“Justin Parker is a rising star in college baseball, and I am ecstatic that his next chapter will be in Columbia,” Kingston said. “He is the perfect fit for our pitching staff in regard to relationships and development. His results jump off the page, and he will be a difference maker instantly when he arrives on campus. His knowledge, personality, and passion for the game will benefit our program tremendously. He is a proven winner and competitor at the highest level. We are proud to welcome Justin and his wife Angi to the Gamecock family.”

“My wife and I are so excited to be starting our next chapter at South Carolina,” Parker said. “It’s an honor to be a part of such a passionate and storied program. I’m very thankful to Coach Kingston for his belief in me and for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get to work!”

Parker joins the Gamecocks after spending three seasons as the associate head coach/pitching coach at Indiana University. His staff with the Hoosiers had a 3.17 ERA and struck out 462 batters in 383.1 innings pitched as Indiana went 26-18 with a Big Ten-only schedule in 2021. Four pitchers from Parker’s staff were selected in the 2021 MLB Draft, including McCade Brown, who was selected in the third round by the Colorado Rockies and Gabe Bierman, picked in the seventh round by the Miami Marlins.

Parker has consistently produced pitchers selected in the MLB Draft. Of his 20 draft picks, nine have gone in the first 10 rounds.

In the shortened 2020 season, Parker helped lead the Hoosiers to a 9-6 record overall, beating No. 11 LSU, No. 30 South Alabama and No. 17 East Carolina. On the mound, the Hoosiers posted a team ERA of 3.56, striking out 134 batters in 129.0 innings pitched. In 2019, Parker help guide the Hoosiers to the 2019 Big Ten Regular-Season title - the seventh in program history and the first for IU since 2014. Indiana earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, finishing the season with an overall record of 37-23 and a Big Ten mark of 17-7. A school-record 10 Hoosiers were selected in the 2019 MLB Draft, led by outfield Matt Gorski, who was selected in the second round (57th overall).

Prior to joining the Hoosiers, Parker served as the pitching coach at UCF for two seasons. During the 2018 campaign at UCF, Parker’s staff posted a 3.32 ERA, the eighth sub-3.50 ERA season in school history. Pitchers struck out 556 batters, good for second in program history behind 2001′s 597, while the Knights set a new program record with 7.1 hits allowed per nine innings and gave up the third-fewest hits at 405. Under Parker in his first season with the Knights in 2017, the pitching staff was one of the best in the nation, finishing 10th in WHIP (1.22), 24th in strikeout-to-walks ratio (2.74), 28th in strikeouts per nine innings (8.9) and 52nd in walks per nine innings (3.26). The crowning achievement for Parker’s players was the fifth-best ERA in the nation at 3.00.

Following the 2018 season, Parker and UCF had five pitchers selected in the draft, the most since 2002 and tied for the second most ever in school history. Thad Ward (5th Round, Boston Red Sox), JJ Montgomery (7th Round, Baltimore Orioles), Bryce Tucker (14th Round San Francisco Giants), Eric Hepple (27th Round, Colorado Rockies), and Cre Finfrock (29th Round, Toronto Blue Jays) each heard their names called. UCF’s Jason Bahr was a fifth-round selection by the San Francisco Giants in 2017. He was followed by Robby Howell in the 10th round, who went to the Cincinnati Reds. Jordan Scheftz (23rd round, Cleveland Indians) and Andy Rohloff (37th round, San Francisco Giants) also heard their names called after one year under Parker. Dating back to his days on staff at Wright State, Parker guided Jesse Scholtens to a ninth-round selection by the San Diego Padres in 2016. Fellow Raider Robby Sexton was also tabbed in the 14th round by the Boston Red Sox in the same draft. His first player ever drafted was Andrew Elliott in the 30th round of the 2015 Draft to the Baltimore Orioles.

Prior to UCF, Parker spent six seasons at his alma mater, Wright State. Parker’s pitching staff helped the Raiders to four Horizon League Championship Games, winning in 2015 and 2016.

Parker’s pitchers guided Wright State to the Horizon League Championship in 2016. The Raiders posted a 46-17 record and ranked fifth in the country in walks per nine innings at 2.45, 33rd in ERA at 3.49 and 10th in WHIP at 1.2, all of which led the Horizon League. Scholtens finished the season 18th in wins (10), 70th in strikeouts (95) and 51st in walks allowed per nine innings. The 2015 season finished with the Raiders leading the league in almost every pitching category, including ERA (3.54), strikeouts per nine innings (7.2), hits allowed per nine innings (8.84), shutouts (4) and WHIP (1.33). Luke Mamer was 19th nationally for fewest walks allowed per nine innings (1.19) while Elliot came out of the bullpen to record 11 saves.

The Raiders ranked in the top 100 in hits allowed per nine innings (8.64) and shutouts (4) in 2014, while Elliot posted 13 saves, good for 19th nationally. In 2013, the Raiders averaged 7.5 strikeouts and 8.98 hits per game to rank 46th and 99th, respectively.

Following a professional career, Parker returned to coach his alma mater in 2011.

Parker was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 43rd round of the 2005 MLB June Amateur Draft from Fort Wayne High School (Fort Wayne, Ind.) but opted to play for Wright State University. He was drafted again, this time by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 6th round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft where he spent three years playing for the Diamondbacks minor league affiliates. As a player at Wright State, Parker earned first-team Horizon League selections in 2007 and 2008, as well as Second-Team ABCA All Region in 2007, and was an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District recipient in 2008.

Parker graduated from Wright State with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in 2012. He is married to Angela Parker and is the brother of former MLB pitcher Jarrod Parker.