Evan Chalmers has been hired as Newport Harbor High's baseball coach.

Evan Chalmers has been hired as Newport Harbor High's baseball coach. (MARK DUSTIN / December 20, 2013)

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Four years ago, Newport Harbor High let go of Evan Chalmers as its head baseball coach. The principal at the time wanted the program to go in a different direction.

The principal is gone and Chalmers is back in charge of the Sailors.

Chalmers returned as Newport Harbor's baseball coach on Friday. He replaced Patrick Murphy, who led the Sailors for four seasons.

"It's nice to be a Sailor again," said Chalmers, who spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach at rival Corona del Mar. "When the job came open, I applied right away. I love the program and I want to see it take off.

"I felt like I made some strides here four years ago. Patrick's done a good job of keeping things together and moving the program forward. I'm excited to get another opportunity."

Chalmers met with the team on Friday, the last day before the holiday break. He said he told the Sailors that he's on their side now.

Many of the same players remember seeing Chalmers in the Sea Kings' dugout during the Battle of the Bay against Newport Harbor. There is one question Chalmers is happy about not having to answer.

"People would ask me, 'So, how is it that you teach at Newport Harbor and coach at Corona del Mar?'" Chalmers said. "I used to say, 'I'm a huge supporter of Corona del Mar baseball, and in every other sport, I root for Newport Harbor.'"

Chalmers can now say he's a Sailor through and through. He has a lot of work ahead of him in turning around the baseball program.

He takes over a program that has gone a combined 7-37-1 in the tough Sunset League the past three seasons. The Sailors finished in last place each time.

Chalmers last held the Sailors' job from 2006-09. During the last three seasons of his first stint with the Sailors, they competed in the Sunset League, compiling a 10-35 record and placing last twice.

Newport Harbor's best finish in league during the three-year stretch was fourth in 2009, the same year the school fired Chalmers. Chalmers said then-principal Michael Vossen never gave him a reason as to why he dismissed him.

The following season in 2010, the Sailors, under Murphy, qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs. The postseason appearance marked Newport Harbor's first in 20 years.

"I'm not going to lie, it was very difficult," Chalmers said of not being able to coach what would've been his most talented team at Newport Harbor. "Sitting in the opposite dugout [with CdM] and watching them basically destroy us [when we played] was very difficult, but I was happy for the guys. The kids deserved a good season. They earned it. Patrick Murphy did a great job guiding those guys."

The Sailors again turn to Chalmers. The first time around didn't go so well, as the team failed to reach the playoffs in each of his four seasons and finished 36-62-1 overall.

The future looks promising to Chalmers, 49, who's a head baseball coach for the second time. He said he learned a lot under CdM Coach John Emme, from planning practices and communicating with parents.

The addition of another diamond at Newport Harbor, Chalmers said, will help develop players. When he coached at Newport Harbor, the varsity and two lower-level programs practiced on the same field because of construction on campus.

The Sailors this spring have two standout pitchers, Shaun Vetrovec and Connor Seabold, returning for their senior seasons. Last season, Vetrovec, who is bound for UC Irvine, went 5-4 with a 2.20 earned-run average, and Seabold, who is bound for Cal State Fullerton, finished 2-6 with a 1.97 ERA.

With those two arms and a handful of returning starters, Chalmers looks to lead the Sailors in a new direction.