Justin James joined the University of California San Diego baseball staff as an assistant coach in January of 2017. He completed his second season in the Triton dugout in 2018, directing the pitchers.
UC San Diego won back-to-back NCAA Division II West Region crowns and produced an overall mark of 87-36 (.707) and 3.79 team ERA upon James' arrival. Four Tritons off his pitching staffs were selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft over his two seasons in the program, with Kyle Goodbrand (Round 36, Tampa Bay Rays) in 2017 and Cameron Kurz (18, Atlanta Braves), Mitch Hickey (28, New York Mets) and Ted Stuka (39, Baltimore Orioles) in 2018.
The 2018 squad broke school standards for strikeouts (528; No. 4 in nation) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.29; No. 23 in nation). UC San Diego won 40-plus games for a second year in a row, with a record seventh California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship banner included within a program-best nine-game postseason win streak. The Tritons' 3.93 earned run average was No. 2 in the CCAA, No. 3 in the West Region and No. 23 nationally in Division II.
In James' first go-around on the La Jolla campus in 2017, the Tritons posted a 44-19 overall record as West Region champions and national runners-up. The finish matched the best in program history, while the 44 wins were second-most all-time. James' staff compiled a 3.67 ERA, 24th in the nation, fourth in the West and third-best in the CCAA.
UC San Diego posted six shutouts, tied for the CCAA lead. All four complete games and both individual shutouts came during the NCAA Championship. Adrian Orozco made the All-CCAA Second Team, while Goodbrand earned All-CCAA honorable mention.
James made the short trip over from his alma mater, Point Loma Nazarene University. He served as the Sea Lions' pitching coach in 2015 and 2016, transforming that staff into one of the best in the Pacific West Conference (PacWest) and Division II. James also aided in recruiting, camp coordination and opponent scouting.
Under James' direction, Point Loma posted a 3.15 ERA in 2016, good for No. 10 nationally and second-best in the PacWest and West Region. The Sea Lions also ranked among the country's top 10 in three other pitching categories, finishing second in walks allowed per nine innings (2.16), eighth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.23) and ninth in WHIP (1.20). Point Loma's ERA dropped in successive years, going from 4.17 in 2014 to 3.83 in 2015.
James returned to Point Loma for the 2010 season and helped the Sea Lions reach the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) World Series, where they placed third. Five of his PLNU pupils went on to earn professional contracts in Chad Blauer, Ryan Garcia, Ricky Gingras, Clinton Harwick and Steve Winnick. He was an assistant at his alma mater for seven seasons in all, and has been a coach for 12 years, 10 of them at the collegiate level.
James spent the 2008 and 2009 campaigns at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M., with the Cowboys winning 70 games while reaching the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament championship game in both years and the Division II Central Regional in 2009. Prior to that appointment, James was the pitching coach at Claremont High School for two seasons.
James has earned USA Baseball appointments in each of the past two summers. He was in charge of the 11U Southwest squad during the National Team Identification Series (NTIS) in 2016, and the 13U Southern California NTIS team in 2017, both in Cary, N.C.
A 2004 graduate of PLNU with a degree in history, James earned a master's from NMHU's Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences in human performance and sport with an emphasis in sport administration in 2009. He played two years at Citrus College in Glendora before moving on to Point Loma and leading the Sea Lions to postseason berths in 2002 and 2003 as a pitcher.
James and his wife, Lindsey, and two young daughters, Kinley and Ellie, reside in Serra Mesa.
|Alma Mater:||Point Loma Nazarene|