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Vanguard baseball preview: New coach oozing optimism

Pegg, a former all-conference catcher at Vanguard, now calling shots at his alma mater as head coach.

January 19, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

As a former all-conference catcher and 1997 team MVP at Vanguard University, first-year baseball coach Rob Pegg has already proved himself in a Lions uniform. And having spent seven seasons as a Vanguard assistant, his first season as head coach brings much more nostalgia than novelty.

But when it comes to building and leading winning teams from the first seat in the dugout, Pegg has seven seasons of struggle he hopes to bury under a string of success at his alma mater.

Pegg's tenure at Colorado Christian University, an NCAA Division II school in Lakewood, Colo., produced a 92-274 record. His best season was a 20-37 campaign in 2009.

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And while Pegg oozes optimism when discussing the 2013 season, the vast majority of his projected contributors are anything but proven at the NAIA level.

Only two of the top eight hitters from the 2012 squad that posted a 23-21 record are back.

And while last year's top starter (senior Scott Simmons) and reliever (senior Kevin Ponzo) return for the mound corps, four of the top five starting candidates this season are transfers with modest to poor numbers at their previous stops.

Further, Pegg said he and his staff are still chipping away at the mind-set of a roster that includes 13 returners and 22 newcomers.

"I've tried to be forthright from Day 1 about what the expectations and standards will be," said Pegg, who takes over after Ralph Grajeda resigned having posted a 98-95 record in four seasons and is now an assistant at Golden State Athletic Conference rival San Diego Christian. "We have a very simple philosophy, which is to do things right and be a great teammate. Our job is to define for the guys what doing things right is, because sometimes their right isn't our right. I've had some teaching to do, getting guys to play my style the way I expect. I want us to be a blue-collar team. I want us to be talented and get after it, but I want us to be hustlers, workers and grinders."

Senior shortstop Bryce Arroyo has done things right in four seasons for the Lions. He hit .327 in 42 games as a junior with five homers and 35 runs batted in and Pegg says he is a five-tool talent who is gaining interest from professional scouts.

Arroyo anchors an all-senior infield that includes returner Adonis Tountas at second base. Tountas hit .291 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 41 games last season.

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