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Torrey Pines’ Mirandon Gets Things Together, On and Off Field

About this time last year, Torrey Pines High School made a run for its first Palomar League baseball title.

Aaron Mirandon, a pitcher/third baseman, could only cheer and fidget as his teammates, despite a strong finish, wound up tied with Fallbrook for third place and out of the San Diego Section playoffs. Mirandon had been declared academically ineligible and missed the final two-thirds of the season.

“I just had a couple of tough classes and was working at night,” he said.

Mirandon, 18, failed to achieve a 2.0 grade-point average on his spring progress report. He managed to hike his average above 3.0 by the end of the semester, but the damage had been done.

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“Aaron’s a very smart and level-headed kid,” said Torrey Pines Coach Frank Chambliss, “but if we would have had him, we would have won league. Well, put it this way, we would have made CIF (playoffs) easily.”

Said Mirandon: "(Last year) runs through my mind a little bit. I know we had the talent to go to CIF. In high school, the emphasis is on education. It’s not really that hard to get a 2.0. You have to put education first.”

Before slumping in the classroom, Mirandon, a right-hander, had injured his right shoulder while skiing at Lake Tahoe.

He made sure that when he took the mound this year, his shoulder and his GPA would be healthy.

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“He worked very hard in the off-season and has worked hard in the classroom,” Chambliss said. Also, Mirandon and several of his teammates went to Mazatlan in December for several games against Mexican semipro teams.

That trip unified the team, Mirandon and Chambliss say. It also helped Torrey Pines win its first 14 games and Mirandon (8-3) his first five decisions, plus four saves.

But some Palomar League coaches thought the start was a fluke, figuring that Mirandon and Torrey Pines would suffer some losses during league play.

Ironically, Mirandon finally proved he was for real when Torrey Pines finally lost, 1-0, to Mt. Carmel April 8.

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He allowed only two hits--one a chopper, the other an infield single--and struck out eight.

Mirandon, 6-feet 3-inches and 185 pounds, pitched with remarkable poise that day in what he rates his best performance of the year.

But later against Poway, his lack of poise cost him. After taking a called third strike in the bottom of the third inning, Mirandon, who had pitched three scoreless innings, flipped his bat toward the backstop and was ejected from the game.

Tuesday, Mirandon pitched six scoreless innings of relief to lower his earned-run average to 0.70.

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He also has helped put Torrey Pines in position for at least a playoff berth entering today’s game against Fallbrook. Torrey Pines (20-3, 7-3) trails Poway, which it plays Tuesday, by one game and Mt. Carmel, which has beaten Torrey Pines twice, by half a game.

“The seniors on this team knew this was going to be our year,” Mirandon said. “I think we’re starting to peak.”

Mirandon, who also hits well (.333 with 5 doubles), uses a split-finger fastball as his out pitch.

“I’m thinking it might be better to get an education at a four-year school, even if baseball doesn’t work out,” Mirandon said. “Whether I play in college depends on the coaches.”

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