Tom Kunis, a nationally-regarded pitching coach with 19 seasons of NCAA Division I experience, returns for a third stint with the Spartans baseball program. San José State head coach Dave Nakama made the announcement.
The 2015 season will be Kunis’ eighth as a Spartans assistant coach, having previously served from 1988-91 and 2009-11 under former skipper Sam Piraro.
“Tom Kunis brings a great deal of experience to our program,” said Nakama. “He has a proven track record of success and I think that’s something that will not only help develop our many young pitchers, but will help us in recruiting as well.”
Nakama and Kunis coached together for six seasons (2002-07) at Stanford under Mark Marquess, where the pair aided the Cardinal to two Pac-10 conference titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances, including three Super Regional appearances and two College World Series berths.
The 2011 San José State pitching staff topped the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in strikeouts (457), innings pitched (532.2) and fewest home runs allowed (17), and finished third in ERA (4.49). Juniors Roberto Padilla and Esteban Guzman finished with the third- and fourth-best ERAs in the conference at 3.19 and 3.33, respectively, earning Padilla first-team All-WAC recognition and Guzman second-team honors.
Under Kunis' guidance, two Spartan hurlers received postseason honors in 2010. Starter Blake McFarland was named first-team All-WAC and was selected to the WAC All-Tournament team. Zack Jones, listed as a utility player, earned Freshman of the Year honors in the WAC, was selected to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team and was a first-team honoree on the All-Ping! Freshman Baseball Team. Jones, a two-way player, was the team’s primary closer and finished the year with a 5-1 record and five saves.
In 2009, San José State won the regular season WAC title behind a pitching staff that led the league in team ERA. It was the first time the Spartans led the WAC in pitching since joining the conference in 1997. The Spartans’ 4.66 ERA was nearly a full run better than second-place Fresno State's 5.61. San José State led the conference in complete games (6), shutouts (4), saves (17) and strikeouts with a school-record total of 453.
Three of the top six individual ERA marks in 2009 WAC play belonged to San José State hurlers. Ryan Shopshire became the first Spartan to earn WAC Pitcher of the Year honors, and was joined on the All-WAC first team by David Berner. Including Shopshire, Kunis coached four conference Pitchers of the Year since 2000.
From 1988-91, Kunis’ first stint as a Spartan assistant, his pitching staff was the best in the Big West Conference for the first three of those four years. In 1989 and 1990, the program posted back-to-back 40-plus win seasons, the only time in school history.
Kunis served as the head coach at Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., during the 2008 campaign. While he was an assistant at Stanford from 2000-07, the Cardinal posted a team ERA under 4.00 four times and nine of his pitchers were selected in the first five rounds of an MLB Draft.
From 1996-99, Kunis was the top assistant at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif. His rotations consistently ranked among the best in the WAC (1996) and Big West (1997-99).
He was the pitching coach at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., from 1991-94, when the Dons twice topped the Coast Conference in ERA. He served as the head coach for the 1995 campaign, earning a 31-14-2 record and a California state playoff berth.
Kunis began his coaching career as an assistant at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., from 1984-87.
A graduate of San Jose's Branham High School, Kunis earned his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from San José State and a master's degree in sports administration from Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif.
He and his wife, Kim, reside in San Jose with their five children, sons Austin, Tyler, Landon and Cooper, and daughter Megan.
They Pitched For Coach Kunis (Name - Last MLB Organization)
Jack Adams – Kansas City Royals
David Berner – Houston Astros
Jeremy Bleich – New York Yankees*
Jeff Bruksch – Cincinnati Reds
Anthony Chavez - Anaheim Angels
Erik Davis – Washington Nationals*
Nolan Gallagher – Seattle Mariners
Joe Gardner – Atlanta Braves*
Trevor Gibson – Colorado Rockies
Mike Gosling – Cleveland Indians
Jeremy Guthrie – Kansas City Royals*
John Hudgins – San Diego Padres
Max Peterson – Chicago White Sox*
Greg Reynolds – Cincinnati Reds*
Mark Romanczuk – Arizona Diamondbacks
Ryan Shopshire – Toronto Blue Jays
Jason Simontacchi – Washington Nationals
Brandt Walker – Houston Astros
Justin Wayne – Florida Marlins
Jason Young - Colorado Rockies
* - Active