Savage Announces Changes to Baseball Coaching Staff
LOS ANGELES – UCLA baseball head coach John Savage announced on Tuesday a number of changes to his coaching staff, with longtime assistant coach Rex Peters retiring and Niko Gallego and David Berg earning promotions.
Gallego, the team's volunteer assistant coach for the past seven seasons, has been promoted to a full-time assistant coach position. Berg – an undergrad assistant coach at UCLA in 2019 and the program's director of operations the past two seasons – has been elevated to the volunteer assistant position.
Peters is set to retire after a successful 29-year run as a coach at the collegiate level, including the last 10 years at UCLA.
"Rex was an assistant that showed tremendous loyalty and consistency over his 10 years at UCLA," said Savage. "He was the consummate professional, and we won several Pac-12 Championships and a National Championship with Rex being a major part of our program."
Gallego and Berg – both standouts during their playing days as UCLA student-athletes – have been integral parts of UCLA's baseball program ever since stepping on campus.
During his seven years as volunteer assistant, Gallego has helped mentor a number of prominent UCLA infielders – including high MLB draft picks in Matt McLain, Michael Toglia, Chase Strumpf, Ryan Kreidler, and Kevin Kramer – while coaching first base and playing a key role on the recruiting trail alongside fellow assistant coach Bryant Ward. Thanks in part to Gallego's efforts, UCLA has brought in a top-10 national recruiting class in four consecutive offseasons, including the No. 1 group in Baseball America's 2021 rankings.
Gallego was a two-time All-Pac-10 infielder during a three-year playing career at UCLA (2008-10), reaching the College World Series with the Bruins in 2010. A 24th round pick by Arizona in the 2010 MLB Draft, he spent five seasons in the minor leagues before returning to Westwood.
"Niko has clearly paid his dues in our program," said Savage. "From being an all-conference player to an assistant coach, he knows the program and our standards very well. His ability to communicate with the players –and get the most out of them – is something Niko is very natural at, and will help develop many Bruins in the future.
Berg is set to begin his third position in four years since joining the UCLA staff. His first year in the dugout, as an undergrad assistant coach, coincided with the one of the best performances in program history, as the 2019 Bruins posted an NCAA-best 2.60 team ERA en route to a program-record 52 wins and 12 consecutive weeks atop the national rankings. Working primarily with the team's relievers, UCLA's bullpen recorded a 2.12 ERA and produced the NCBWA Stopper of the Year in Holden Powell. Berg has spent the last two campaigns as the team's director of operations, helping the program navigate myriad obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic on top of his normal duties.
The NCAA record-holder in both career appearances (175) and single-season saves (24, 2013), Berg finished his UCLA career (2012-15) as arguably the best reliever in the history of the college game. The owner of a 1.11 career ERA, Berg was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and NCBWA Stopper of the Year in both 2013 and 2015. He remains the only reliever ever to be named the league's top pitcher, and is the lone pitcher to be named Stopper of the Year more than once. He was on the mound for two of the biggest moments in program history, as he recorded the final out to clinch the 2013 College World Series and also got the last three outs of a combined no-hitter with James Kaprielian in 2015.
"David is one of the greatest Bruin baseball players that has ever played at UCLA," said Savage. "He has done a terrific job as our operations person, and now he will begin his coaching career. His knowledge of our program and his wealth of information will add to the depth of our coaching staff."
Peters's retirement brings to a close a storied 29-year career as a coach, including 18 as a head coach before his 10-year stint in Westwood.
The Bruins posted a 375-193-1 record during his time in the dugout, reaching the College World Series in his first two years on staff and winning the program's first National Championship in 2013. UCLA reached the postseason in all but two of his years, earning the No. 1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament twice. In addition, UCLA won a program-record 52 games in 2019, a campaign that also saw the Bruins claim the Pac-12 title and win all 14 of their regular season series. Working primarily with the team's outfielders and hitters, UCLA produced a number of marquee position players during Peters's tenure including McLain, 2020 MLB Draft first round pick Garrett Mitchell, Toglia, Strumpf, Kreidler, Jeremy Ydens, Daniel Amaral, Sean Bouchard, Kramer, Shane Zeile, and Jeff Gelalich.
Prior to joining the UCLA staff, Peters was a head coach at UC Davis (2003-2011) and Chapman (1994-2002). He led the Aggies to the Division II College World Series in 2003, and oversaw the program as it ascended to Division I status and later joined the Big West Conference. Peters led Chapman to three Division III College World Series berths.
A new director of operations will be announced at a later date.
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