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Lions rally caps sweep of La Sierra

Vanguard baseball opens season with pair of victories for first-year coach Pegg.

January 21, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — A dramatic finish displaced the built-in beginning theme, but Vanguard University baseball coach Rob Pegg was certainly unwilling to quibble with his first day of competition at the helm of his alma mater.

Pegg's Lions rallied for four runs in their last at-bat of the seven-inning second game to defeat La Sierra, 5-4, and sweep the nonconference doubleheader on Monday at Vanguard.

After senior third baseman Jason Ochart walked with the bases loaded to drive in the tying run, senior Jordan Mould scored from third on a wild pitch to senior Ethan Harper to spark a boisterous celebration after a game in which the Lions were down to their final out and trailing, 4-1.

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Senior Nikko Tountas began the winning rally with a one-out pinch double and, one out later, sophomore Taylor McKnight barely cleared the left-field fence with a two-run home run against La Sierra reliever Logan Duran. McKnight, a transfer from Santa Barbara City College, had not hit a home run since his senior year at Mater Dei High in 2009.

Senior center fielder Matt Avery and Mould chased Duran with consecutive singles, putting the tying run on third, before Golden Eagles' sophomore Michael Hinojos was shifted from third base to the mound. Hinojos, who had blown a sixth-inning lead in the seventh-inning to take the loss in the second game of a doubleheader against San Diego Christian on Saturday, walked junior right fielder John Schwer to load the bases. Ochart followed with a walk to knot the score and Hinojos bounced a pitch in front of the plate that caromed high off the backstop, allowing Mould to score standing up to complete the sweep.

Vanguard (2-0) posted a 4-1 victory in the first game, a nine-inning affair completed in half the time (80 minutes) as the second game.

"That can really set the tone for a team early in the season," Pegg, the Lions' team MVP an All-Golden State Athletic Conference catcher in 1997 who later spent seven seasons as an assistant coach in the program, said of the winning Game 2 rally. "I saw what I believed we had [coming into the season], and it showed up for us today."

Through the first six innings of the second game, Vanguard had produced just five hits.

Avery, who went four for seven in the two games and had driven in and scored a run in the opener, singled to lead off the fourth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ochart.

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