Blaine McFerrin joined the Western Michigan staff as an assistant coach in July 2010 and was promoted to associate head coach in May 2012. McFerrin oversees the Bronco pitching staff and coordinates recruiting efforts and has been an in integral part in the rise of the Bronco program.
A former student-athlete under current Bronco head coach Billy Gernon at IPFW, McFerrin also began his coaching career with Gernon and the Mastodons.
Under McFerrin's direction, the Western Michigan pitching staff has quickly become one of the premier programs in the region. Western Michigan has advanced to the eight-team MAC Tournament in four of the last five seasons and have won at least one game over a higher seeded opponent in all four. This progress has come after inheriting a team that broke the school record for losses in 2009 and 2010 and had not made a trip to the postseason tournament since 2008. The Broncos have made it to the MAC tournament four of his five years and winning more post season games in four years than in the 30 years prior in WMU history.
In 2015, WMU reached the MAC Tournament as the seventh-seed and proceeded to stun the MAC East champion Kent State, with Derek Schneider tossing a complete-game shutout in the first round game to knock the Golden Flashes out of the winners’ bracket. Under McFerrin's direction, Schneiders complete-game shutout was the first in WMU postseason history. WMU just narrowly fell to eventual champion Ohio in the semifinal round, dropping an extra innings decision to the Bobcats.
Two Broncos were able to continue their baseball careers at the end of the season as Brett Sunde (Bishop Foley, H.S) being selected by the Oakland A’s in the 18th round of the 2015 MLB Draft and teammate Kurt Hoekstra (Grand Rapids Christian H.S) going in the 21st round to the Atlanta Braves. Under McFerrin, junior RHP Gabe Berman (Andover H.S) broke the school record for saves in a career set back in 1989. Berman has 21 career saves and will be second in MAC history if he posts 10 saves in 2016 and 1st if he should record 14.
In the 2014 MAC Tournament, WMU eliminated last year’s MAC Tournament Champion Bowling Green (W, 7-4) and the 2014 MAC regular season champion and No. 1 seed Ball State (W, 4-1). In the 26 years of the conference tournament format, it was just the second time ever and first since 1998 Western Michigan posted two wins in the MAC postseason.
Western Michigan finished with a 3.89 staff ERA in 2014, the lowest for the program since 1993, and concluded the regular season with the second lowest ERA in the MAC. The Broncos were stingy with extra base hits, only allowing 13 home runs - fewest since 1993, four triples - fewest since 1976, and 66 doubles - fewest since 1991. Additionally, all three pitchers in WMU’s weekend conference rotation earned MAC Pitcher of the Week honors, a feat only Western Michigan could tip its hat to in 2014. First-year Bronco Chad Mayle was named Second Team All-MAC after touting the third-best ERA during conference play at 2.12.
Two pitchers have been named Second Team All-MAC under McFerrin’s four-year watch and WMU has garnered a total of six MAC Pitcher of the Week awards. Two pitchers have also been selected in the Major League Draft.
The Bronco pitching staff has recorded 10 or more saves all four seasons with McFerrin’s supervision, something that had never before been done in a four-year span in school history, and the program set the record for saves in a single season with 16 in 2011 and followed that with the second highest save count with 14 in 2012. He has groomed two of the top three pitchers in single-season save totals, including current junior Gabe Berman, who is on pace to break the career record in 2015.
Beginning with Steve Laudicina in 2011 as a freshman, McFerrin witnessed Laudicina go on to break the single-season and career record for innings pitched as a senior in 2014. Monty Porter also broke the single-season and career appearance records in his four seasons working with McFerrin. More impressively, McFerrin has worked with three of the top five pitchers for career strikeouts in MLB draft pick Brian Stroud, Casey Webber and Laudicina. In the long list of Webber’s accolades, he also stands as the school’s career leader for pickoffs.
In McFerrin’s first year at Western Michigan, the Broncos made a 14-game improvement from 2010 to 2011, ranking the Broncos 10th among NCAA Division I institutions in terms of program turn around. The Broncos finished the 2011 season with an overall record of 26-31 after going 12-42 the season prior.
McFerrin helped WMU improve its ERA from 7.62 to 4.03, its lowest team ERA since 1993 and the staff rang up 367 strikeouts, the most for the Brown & Gold since 2001. Western Michigan was even more impressive during MAC play, dropping their 4.03 ERA to 3.46. Other impressive numbers included five shutouts, a .278 batting average against and just 128 extra base hits allowed, the fewest since 2006.
The Bronco pitching staff was named Insidepitching.com National Pitching Staff of the Week after recording the three-game shutout sweep of Akron, the first time in school history WMU had completed a three-game shutout sweep of a conference foe. Also facing non-conference opponents during the stretch, the Broncos went 34.1 innings without giving up a run.
A pair of Bronco pitchers were selected in the Major League Draft, RHP Brian Stroud going to the Detroit Tigers in the 31st round and RHP Eric Heckaman going to the Tigers in the 35th round. Heckaman posted 10 saves that season and the Broncos’ Friday ace, Stroud returned from an injury plagued 2010 season and posted an 8-4 record with a 3.20 ERA, garnering Second Team All-MAC honors.
The Broncos advanced to the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2008, securing the No. 7 seed, and recorded the program’s first postseason win since 1998, upsetting No. 2 seed Central Michigan, 9-7, in the first round.
PRIOR TO WMU:
McFerrin was an assistant at Georgia State for four seasons, where he helped lead the Panthers to back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association Championship appearances and the school’s first ever CAA title in 2009. During his four years at Georgia State, McFerrin had two pitchers go on and sign with MLB organizations, including the highest draft pick in school history in David Buchanan. Buchanan was selected in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. The Panthers had never had a pick higher than the 10th round.
Georgia State posted 34 wins in 2010, which ranked as the second most victories in program history, while the pitching staff finished with 454 strikeouts, just 20 shy of the record-shattering mark set during the 2009 season. McFerrin helped lead a record six players to All-CAA honors during the season, and Justin Malone broke the school record for career saves in just his second season.
The Panthers broke the school records for batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, RBIs, base on balls, conference wins, conference winning percentage and home winning percentage. The squad sat among the top of the NCAA rankings in several categories during the year, including strikeouts per game, which Georgia State finished among the top 40 in the nation. Offensively, the squad finished tops in the NCAA in runs scored per game and sacrifice flies. GSU also returned to the CAA Championship game for the second-straight year.
The Panthers set a school record for wins in 2009 with 39, earning its first-ever CAA Championship and appearance in an NCAA Regional. Under McFerrin’s watch, the pitching staff shattered both the school strikeout and saves record. The Panthers eclipsed the strikeout record by over 100, setting a new standard of 474. The bullpen record 19 saves, breaking the record of 12 set in 2005.
Georgia State fielded two All-CAA selections, two All-CAA Tournament picks, a CAA All-Rookie Team nod and a Louisville Sluuger and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American. In 2008, the school produced a one All-CAA team member.
In McFerrin’s first season, two players earned CAA Pitcher-of-the-Week honors and Adam Bowling signed with the Chicago White Sox organization as an undrafted free agent.
McFerrin came to Georgia State after spending the 2006 season at Michigan where he worked with the pitchers and outfielders. At Michigan, he worked with one MLB free-agent signee, two MLB draftees, three Freshman All-Americans and a Johnny Bench Award Finalist. McFerrin was part of a Big Ten regular-season championship and a Big Ten Tournament title that earned the Wolverines a trip to the Atlanta Regional.
McFerrin played two seasons at IPFW (1999-2000) after transferring from Kentucky Wesleyan. He capped his senior season with a 2-0 record and a team-leading 3.29 ERA as the Mastodons set a school record for conference wins in 2000. His career cut short by an arm injury, he began his coaching career with Gernon at IPFW from 2001-03. McFerrin spent the 2004 season at Division III Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., before returning to IPFW in 2005.
A native of Connersville, Ind., McFerrin earned his bachelor’s in secondary education (2000) and his master’s in school administration (2002) at IPFW. McFerrin married Carrie Ann Sullivan in August 2006, the couple wlecomed their first child in the spring of 2014, Sullivan Blaze and welcomed their second child Jovie Lachlan in the winter of 2016.