Jared Wagner, who grew up in Danville, is working to fulfill his biggest ambition.
"My dream is to play pro baseball," Wagner said. "That is what I have always wanted to do. Right now, I am 23 years old and going into my senior year (at the University of the Pacific). I would say perseverance is a very good word to describe my character.
"I want to take on challenges. I want to do the best that I can at whatever task I am currently doing."
For the second-straight summer, Wagner is competing 3,000 miles from home.
He's a team leader and a starting pitcher for the Southampton Breakers in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. He's spending June and July living with a host family about 90 miles east of New York City.
"I wanted to come here and really work on pitching instead of throwing," he said. "I wanted to come back. I enjoyed (the 2010 summer)."
Wagner, who has attended four colleges since he graduated from De La Salle High in Concord, said he believes his mound skills are improving. On July 11, he was selected to play in the 2011 ACBL All-Star Game in Brooklyn, where he pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a 5-4 victory.
Southampton coach Rob Cafiero was eager to have the 6-3, 215-pound Wagner return to the Breakers.
"He is the one pitcher I definitely wanted to get back from last year," Cafiero said. "His maturity level is far beyond any college player I've seen.
"Jared is our No. 1 pitcher. He is the go-to guy. His demeanor on the mound is the same no matter if he gave up six runs or he's throwing a no-hitter at the time. And he is the type of kid that after every start he will ask 100 questions to make himself better."
For the Breakers, he shows a 2-1 record and a 2.93 earned run average and 24 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings.
Wagner's long-time link to baseball started when he was 4 years old. He attended and . Wagner played Little League, Babe Ruth League and recalled his games at Camp Parks Army Base in Dublin.
"My favorite baseball memory came in the eighth grade," Wagner said. "I have a twin brother (Jeff) and we combined for a one-hit shutout playing against high schoolers. It was a lot of fun to experience that with my brother."
Their father, Jon — who won a California high school state wrestling championship in the 1970s — often encouraged his sons.
"He said to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, because if you are always comfortable you are not allowing yourself to grow," said Wagner.
Aiming to boost his personal growth, Wagner gave up being a quarterback at De La Salle to concentrate on baseball.
He attended U.C. Santa Barbara and UNLV before a productive season at Seward County (Kansas) Community College. He transferred to Pacific and played for the Tigers last spring, where he compiled an 0-4 record in 21 appearances.
He plans to earn a degree in accounting, but becoming a pro player is his priority.
"The thing is, if you have a dream, ask yourself how to achieve it," said Wagner. "For me, I am usually the first person to be there and the last to leave. I do more extra stuff that I think will help me to get better. I want to do all I can to make my dream come true."
He knows his UOP coaches in Stockton want him to be more consistent and effective next season.
"I have the single mindset that I am going to give all I've got for as long as I can," said Wagner. "No matter where I was mentally, emotionally, physically, my mindset is to go as hard as I can."