Familiar faces spark Sierra baseball

Moneypenny coaching former prep rival Miller as Wolverines quickly return to winning ways
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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ROCKLIN ” The coach-player relationship has taken some getting used to for Loren Moneypenny and Seth Miller this spring at Sierra College. The two were high school rivals when Moneypenny was a star pitcher at Placer and Miller a hard-throwing right-hander at Bear River in 2002. Then they carpooled to Sacramento City College together when both were redshirt freshmen in 2003. Now Miller is reviving his baseball career after a series of injuries and setbacks. He's taking pointers from Moneypenny ” who concluded an impressive pitching career at San Jose State last spring. It's kind of weird, said Moneypenny, who joined head coach Rob Willson's staff late last year. He's learning to call me coach because that's the way we do it out here. It's a little awkward at times, but it's funny at the same time. It's weird to call him coach, Miller said Friday after pitching two scoreless innings in a 7-1 win over Merced. But he's a good guy. We get along great. The Sierra baseball team is off to a 7-2 start. The Wolverines looking to add to their growing tradition, which includes a trip to the state's final four in 2006 and a return to the final eight last spring. Sophomore Tyler Graham anchors an unproven, but talented pitching staff. Logan Lotti, Ryan Stevens and Kyle Richardson return to lead an offense that will miss sluggers Andy Launier, Eric Deragisch and Dustin LeRoy. Miller has yet to give up a run in three outings this season. He's enjoying every moment on the field as a 24-year-old freshman. I'm loving just being out here, said Miller. I love it. The former Bruin never got on the field in three years at Sacramento City. Two shoulder surgeries and one elbow surgery kept him off the field and led him to return to Auburn, where he worked for his father Koy Miller as a salesman at the Sleep Shop. Seth was selling plenty of mattresses, but he missed baseball. He considered a comeback until a tumor was discovered in his salivary gland in 2006. Another surgery and several more months went by before Miller called Sierra coach Rob Willson to see about trying out for the team. I lost some weight, started throwing again and said, ˜Hey, I want to try and do this,' Miller said. I had no idea if I could pitch, I was just hoping to stay healthy. Several strong outings and workouts last fall convinced Willson that Miller was ready. He's developing into a valuable reliever and may see time as the team's closer this season. It's a process. Every week it's getting better, Miller said. I don't know if I'll ever be the same as I was when I was 19 or 20, but it's good enough to get outs. Moneypenny was used to getting plenty of outs himself after striking out 150 batters in two seasons at San Jose State. Now he's instructing the Sierra hurlers on the finer points of the craft. I played for a long time, so now it's fun to see things from another angle, Moneypenny said. Like Miller, Moneypenny got a taste of the 9-to-5 life after his career with the Spartans. He was working in a mailroom when Willson gave him a call and rescued him from the daily grind. I was working inside “ the worst thing I could possibly do, Moneypenny said. I was going insane. Moneypenny will be with the Wolverines until May, when he plans to enlist in the Marine Corps. He will enter the officer cadet school as a college graduate and serve four years. Pretty much every guy in my family's been in one branch of the military or another, he said. I think if I'm going to live here and reap all the benefits that the United States has to offer, I might as well put in my time and give a little something back. It's something I feel like I need to do. After that, who knows? Being away from baseball for four years might kill me. If things work out for Sierra, Moneypenny may not be around for their final few games. The state championship is May 26 in Fresno. We're a close bunch of guys, Miller said. We all get along and we all have the same goal of winning. I'm just lucky I don't have a house payment or I'm not married with kids so I have the opportunity to be out here.