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Orange County Prep Review : Santiago Enjoying Life in New Spot at the Top : Myron Pines Working Wonders So Far in First Year With Rebuilding Program

There is an unfamiliar team at the top of the Garden Grove League baseball standings these days--Santiago High School--and much of the credit can go to Myron Pines.

Of course you’ll never get Pines to admit it.

Pines has returned to high school coaching after one season at Golden West, and the Cavaliers are the benefactors.

After two wins over league-leading Garden Grove last week, Santiago, Bolsa Grande and Garden Grove are tied for first at 5-2.

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Characteristically, Pines downplayed his team’s performance.

“The kids are doing a good job,” he said. “All I’m trying to do here is to keep them interested, to make sure that they’re playing the game hard. That’s all you can ask of them.”

The Cavaliers (10-5) are headed for a winning record, if not a playoff berth. Last season under Brian Kerwin, the Cavaliers were 5-10 and 8-14.

Pines coached at Pacifica from 1978-84 before going to Golden West last season.

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At Pacifica, Pines’ won two Garden Grove League and two Empire League titles. It hasn’t taken long for the Cavaliers to realize the efforts of a baseball coach who is among Orange County’s best.

Said La Quinta Coach Dave Demarest: “Myron and I coached against each other when he was at Pacifica and we always used to have some great games, with scores like 1-0 or 2-1. It’s always a challenge to play Myron’s teams because you know that when you’re facing him, you’re facing the best.

“When Pacifica left the Garden Grove League and people said, ‘Aren’t you glad because now you don’t have to coach against Pines?’, I always said ‘no’ because Myron is a class guy.”

Demarest said that he always saw Santiago as something of a sleeping giant, and along came Pines to re-establish a winning tradition.

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Pines said the Cavaliers hadn’t been to the playoffs since the mid-1970s and had not won a league title since major league pitcher Bert Blyleven played for the Cavaliers in 1968.

“It’s not so much talent as it is putting in the work,” Pines said. “I don’t think the kids realized just how much effort it takes to put a winner on the field.”

Pines, 36, also is a part-time scout for the New York Mets in the off-season. His winter league team, sponsored by the Mets, included some of the county’s better players, including shortstop Troy Paulsen of La Quinta and catcher Eric Cox of Esperanza.

Since coming to Santiago, Pines already has managed to get the dugouts and backstop repaired, a new batting cage installed, and electricity wired for pitching machines at the field. He says he needs only one more item to complete the revitalization.

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“Water,” Pines said. “If we can get some water out there, the field is going to be in great shape.”

A Week With Troy: It was a busy week for La Quinta shortstop Troy Paulsen.

Paulsen, who signed a letter of intent last week to attend Stanford University, went through the rigors of the recruiting process before signing.

Paulsen’s week at a glance:

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Saturday and Sunday: Visited the University of Arizona, which he liked, according to Demarest, La Quinta’s coach. Paulsen returned home Sunday night.

Monday: Learned that he’d been accepted academically at Stanford, whose baseball coaches already were interested in him.

Tuesday: Got sick and stayed in bed.

Wednesday: Played in La Quinta’s 6-1 loss to Rancho Alamitos. Stanford Coach Mark Marquez was in town to put in a late bid.

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Thursday: Cal State Fullerton Coach Augie Garrido phoned Paulsen to remind him that he still figured in the Titans’ plans. Late Thursday night Paulsen made his decision but waited until Friday to make it official.

Friday: Paulsen, who has yet to strike out in 63 at-bats, went 2 for 3 to help the Aztecs to a 7-6 victory over Rancho Alamitos.

Whew. Just another day in the life for a high school baseball star.

They said it: Once around the Sea View League, whose coaches are usually good for a chuckle or two.

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Tom Trager, Laguna Beach coach, after the Artists’ 16-1 victory over Costa Mesa: “Our biorhythms were right today.”

Ken Millard, Estancia coach, after a particularly poor outing: “We were so bad, even our players’ moms left the game early.”

Jerry Jelnick, Corona del Mar coach, when after the first two league games, all eight league teams were tied with 1-1 records: “Our athletic director will have to come up with a way to break up the tie if everybody in the league goes 7-7.

“I hope we go 8-6, though.”

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