La Jolla, California - Head coach Eric Newman has promoted Rob Avila to the position of associate head coach of the UC San Diego baseball program.
Avila will be entering his fifth year on the Triton staff in February. He arrived in La Jolla with Newman ahead of the 2012 campaign, and serves as UCSD's pitching coach while also aiding in recruiting and overseeing camps.
A stellar 2015 season for the Tritons and Avila's pitching unit saw UCSD break program records for team earned-run average (2.84), shutouts (13), strikeouts (469) and strikeouts per nine innings (8.72), while finishing second in ERA in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) and sixth nationally in the NCAA Division II. The Tritons went 36-21 and advanced through to the Division II West Region finals for the second year in succession. During Avila's time on campus, they have gone 133-85 overall (99-57 CCAA) with four winning marks, two conference tournament titles in 2012 and 2014, and one CCAA regular-season banner in 2012.
The UCSD pitching staff has placed among the top three in the CCAA in ERA in three of the past four years. Avila has mentored five Triton arms who have been offered professional contracts, including consensus 2015 All-American Justin Donatella, the 15th-round selection of the Arizona Diamondbacks in June's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"I was excited when Coach Newman first talked to me about becoming the associate head coach," said Avila. "I am truly blessed to come to work here in one of the most beautiful places in the world, utilize our top-notch facilities, and collaborate with all the dedicated coaches and administration. I am so thankful for Coach Newman giving me the opportunity back in 2011 to join his staff and work with the amazing student-athletes we have at UCSD. It's great to be a part of an athletics department and university that is truly committed to helping our student-athletes in their pursuit of excellence in all things. Our proud tradition of academic and athletic excellence is not just a motto; it's played out on an everyday basis here by so many people. We will keep doing our part with the baseball team, and hopefully bring a national championship home from Cary (N.C.) one of these days."
"Rob has been a tremendous asset to our staff, as well as the UC San Diego Athletics Department," added Newman. "This promotion is well-deserved and recognizes his dedication and hard work, as well as his commitment to the overall vision of UC San Diego Baseball and the athletics department as a whole."
Avila is a 2002 graduate of The Master's College in Santa Clarita, where he played for two seasons (1998-99) before being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and embarking on a five-year professional career. As the head coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., from 2006-09, he led the Sailfish to a pair of National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) South Region crowns and was twice named the NCCAA South Region Coach of the Year.
Alongside the Avila promotion, Newman added Jeff Calhoon and former Triton Tony York to his staff this off-season. Calhoon spent the last two years at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, having completed his playing career as the starting catcher at New York's Niagara University. York was a relief pitcher at UCSD from 2011-12, compiling 10 saves. Calhoon will coach third base, while York takes over in the first-base box. They replace Cory Burleson, now a first-year student at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, and former Triton standout Nick La Face (2010-14), who returned home to the Los Angeles area and is an assistant coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps while also attending graduate school at Azusa Pacific University.
J.T. Bloodworth is back for a fourth season in the UCSD dugout, now in his second year as the Tritons' recruiting coordinator.
UCSD starts up on Saturday, Feb. 6, with a home doubleheader against Avila's alma mater, The Master's. First pitch at Triton Ballpark is set for 2 p.m. The Tritons will contest two exhibitions ahead of Opening Day, also at home, against Saint Katherine on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 2 p.m., and San Diego Christian on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m.