Head Coach Pugh’s tenure at CSUSM ends on a high note

Amy Chastain, Sports Editor

CSUSM men’s baseball defeated the UCSD Tritons on May 8, but the team focused less on the win and more on cheering Head Coach Dennis Pugh through his last nine innings as their coach.

Prior to the start of the final CCAA matchup of season, a pregame ceremony honored Pugh and the seniors on Senior Day.

Eight senior baseball players, Manny Barragan, Brandon Bentson, Emilio Esquibel, L.A. Gamo, Jordan Kunz, Cameron MacKenzie, Clinton Perez and Jon Putnam, were honored for their dedication to the baseball program.

After the seniors had a special walkout with family and loved ones, the ceremony shifted to Pugh.

Pugh addressed the crowd of 150 fans and payed homage to the assistant coaches that have been with him for so many years by presenting them with a framed game jersey.

“One thing about being a head coach—if you don’t have good assistant coaches, you aren’t going to be a good coach, in baseball anyway,” Pugh said. “I’ve been so lucky in my career to have great assistant coaches.”

Athletic Director Jennifer Milo closed out the ceremony by addressing Pugh’s accomplishments.

“Coach Pugh has built a strong foundation that will be successful far into the future, but it isn’t just the baseball stats that make Coach Pugh a person I truly admire. It’s who he is as a man, a mentor, a teacher and someone who cares deeply about the young men he works with,” Milo said.

The Cougars followed up the celebration by displaying their hot bats and good pitching, for what their coach called the “best game of the year.”

Pitcher Manny Barragan had a solid game, only allowing two runs on six hits. He considers the UCSD win as the most memorable of the season.

“I was on crutches unable to walk due to a pulled hamstring so my final start was up in the air. Luckily, I was able to rehab enough to be able to walk. So I went out there on a pulled hamstring and gave it all I had for my final start of my career,” Barragan said.

Bentson led the team with two RBI, three hits and one run. Gamo, Perez and Ross Lemmel each had 1 RBI.

After Sunday’s performance, Pugh has a lot to be proud of.

“We might have played our best game of the year all around,” Pugh said.

Before the game, Pugh said one phrase was on his mind.

“‘This is the last time I’m going to do this.’ That kept repeating in my mind,” Pugh said. “It’s probably not going to be true anyway. I’ll be doing something somewhere else probably, but as far as Cal State San Marcos, that what was in my mind.”

“This has been a great 10-year experience,” Pugh said.