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Giving season continues for Lions

BASEBALL: Vanguard players and coach unite to help out as they can while in Indonesia during Lions’ two-week missionary visit.

December 31, 2007|By Barry Faulkner

College baseball teams are not unfamiliar with the occasional road trip. But Vanguard University, a private Christian school in Costa Mesa, is taking the concept to a bit of an extreme.

A party of 10 Lions players, two alumni, Coach Scott Mallernee and assistant Randy Wishmyer, as well as an American-born Vanguard student who attended high school in Indonesia, boarded a 22-hour flight Saturday to begin a two-week missionary visit to Indonesia.

The group flew out of LAX bound for a quick stopover in Taipai, Taiwan, before reaching the city of Jakarta.

They will spend the initial part of the trip providing earthquake relief, which should but may not be limited to, rebuilding and/or fortifying existing structures damaged by a string of natural disasters that included the 2004 Asian tsunami.

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“We’re going to be God’s hands and feet, and do what’s needed,” said Mallernee, who said the trip, which he hopes becomes an annual event, will fulfill a desire to serve others, as well as help the team bond for the upcoming season.

“I really believe there is a calling on our lives to fill a purpose,” said Mallernee, whose fourth season at the helm begins Feb. 2 with a nonconference doubleheader at Cal State San Marcos.

Mallernee said the trip also includes helping locals hone their English skills. Beyond that, they plan to pitch in wherever and however they are needed.

Josh Bixler, a Vanguard student who lived with his missionary parents in Indonesia, and former Vanguard baseball player Daniel Brown helped generate the idea of making the trip.

Vanguard junior second baseman Ethan Gentry and junior pitcher Chris Carls, who had taken missionary trips on their own last summer, became team leaders for the trip. Eight other players were selected from a group that wanted to go and former Lions pitcher Clay Brown was also added to the traveling party, which raised all of the estimated $33,000 cost of the trip (approximately $2,500 each) through donations and other fundraisers.

The additional players are sophomore shortstop Zach Leighton, junior pitcher Richard Jessup, senior outfielder Luke Iverson, sophomore outfielder Dan Black, freshman pitcher Jordan Wishmyer (the assistant coach’s son), freshman outfielder Riley Munoz, freshman pitcher Bryce Reed and freshman utility man and Costa Mesa High product John Rybarczyk.

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