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After a college career mostly defined by injuries, Tyler McPeak is enjoying a year of fulfilling potential.

Finally healthy, McPeak showing what he can do

ASHEBORO — Entering this past baseball season at Lenoir-Rhyne, Tyler McPeak felt healthy, confident and ready. It’s a feeling he hadn’t had in a long time and he took advantage.


The first-year Bear, who had spent four injury-filled and “disappointing” seasons at Campbell University, broke out with a big campaign and it is those impressive numbers the Asheboro ZooKeepers hope are replicated this summer as a member of the local Coastal Plain League team.


So far, so good.


McPeak, who is playing first base, was hitting .305 (18-for-59) with a team-high five doubles, two home runs, 13 runs scored and 15 RBIs.


“The kid just goes about his business the right way,” Asheboro Manager Kory Dunbar said. “He takes the game seriously, but not too seriously. He’s a very intelligent hitter. He knows what he wants to do at the plate and he sticks to that plan.


“I’ve only been around him a couple of weeks, but you can tell he's an outstanding kid. I think he will continue to have a good summer as long as he is who he is.”


That was difficult to find while at Campbell. 


After a stellar career at North Lincoln High School, where he led his team to a 25-4 record and an appearance in the NCHSAA 2-A West Regional finals as a senior, he headed to Campbell. He was redshirted in 2019, missed the shortened 2020 COVID season due to injury and played sparingly the next two years. 


While at Campbell, McPeak appeared in 25 games, starting eight of those. He hit .175 in 40 at-bats, scored three runs and drove in four. 


“I never could find a rhythm,” said McPeak, who earned a degree in Sports Management. “I think personally, I thought it (Lenoir-Rhyne) was a good place to start in terms of a building block as to what I can do. I always knew I had it in me. The trust from the coaching staff and the work I put in and all the rehab all fell together and it paid off this year.”


That it did.


McPeak, who is working on his MBA at L-R, started 53 games this past season, hitting .349 (67-for-192). He had 13 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, 63 RBIs and he scored 45 runs. He had one of the top slugging percentages on the team at .708 and helped lift the Bears to a record of 38-16. 


Among the wins were a pair over Catawba, a split with No. 1 ranked North Greenville and three wins in four games over No. 9 Illinois Springfield.   


L-R entered the SAC Tournament as the fifth seed and along with No. 4 Carson-Newman, No. 1 Newberry and No. 8 Tusculum comprised Bracket Two. The Bears defeated Carson-Neman in the first round, lost to Newberry in the second round and then repeated that in rounds three and four, missing the finals.


“As a team, we were a little unsatisfied with how it finished in the tournament,” McPeak said. “I definitely think looking back at this year, there is a lot more to be (achieved) than last year.”


McPeak has plenty of summer collegiate baseball experience and was hoping to land a spot in the CPL. He spent the 2019 summer with the Mooresville Spinners, the 2020 season with the Edenton Steamers, the 2021 summer in the Appalachian League with the Bluefiled Ridgerunners and returned to Mooresville last summer.


“In the fall, I told my coaching staff at Lenoir-Rhyne I really wanted to play in the CPL and Mr. Pugh has a really good relationship with our head coach,” McPeak said of ZooKeepers co-owner Doug Pugh and L-R head coach Chris Ramirez. 


Like most players, McPeak wants to win every game, but he said he’s learned something that has helped him become a better player.


“Obviously, I want to win ball games, I want to win every time I am out there,” he said. “But I’m out there now just having fun and enjoying every bit of baseball I have left. I started looking at it from that perspective this past spring in school.


“There are far less days ahead of me than behind me and I want to enjoy every one while I can still play.”


The start of the summer season hasn’t been easy for McPeak or any player. The renovations to McCrary Park have caused the team to postpone some games, while playing other “home” games at UNCG. 


The ZooKeepers were able to open play at McCrary on June 22 and came away with a big 9-6 league win over Boone. McPeak had two hits, including a home run, and four RBIs.


“It’s been challenging, not having true home games has been rough,” he said. “Last night, getting the opportunity to play at McCrary was big for us. I think we are getting close to being a complete team. We’re one game from being a really good team.”