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Ready for his turn in the spotlight

For the past four years, Casey Miller has been a cast member of “Lagunatics,” the popular musical roast of Laguna Beach put on through No Square Theatre.

This year, the Breakers senior also has the pitching spotlight for the Laguna Beach High baseball team.

Miller has pitched in three games so far this year for the Breakers, who open Orange Coast League play today at Godinez. And he is already 2-0 with a save and a minuscule 0.66 ERA.

“He has very good mound presence,” said Coach Jeff Sears, who just like Miller is in his third year with the varsity team. “He wants the baseball.”

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This, coming off a season where Miller went 6-5 with a 3.03 ERA and earned first-team All-Orange Coast League honors. Yet he wasn’t satisfied.

Over the summer, he said he lost 15 pounds, slimming down to 170.

“I think it was mainly getting rid of some of my baby fat,” Miller said. “I worked my butt off, in my opinion, not to toot my own horn.”

Miller hopes to pitch for Occidental College next year, but his pitching prowess might have surprised some.

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Sure, he’s been playing baseball for nearly a decade, starting in Laguna Beach Little League.

And he plays club in the summer and fall for the Irvine Diamondbacks, as well.

But this was still the player who said he had never been a No. 1 starter at any level. Heck, he didn’t even start out as a pitcher; he used to be a shortstop and he’s switched positions a lot.

In 2008 though, Miller was on varsity as a sophomore and he said he learned plenty by watching players like then-senior Zach Nuno.

Nuno was the co-Orange Coast League Pitcher of the Year that year.

The next year, Miller was jumping into that spot. He helped keep Laguna in contention for a league title until the final week of the season, before finally succumbing to Costa Mesa.

The Breakers went 7-5 in league; Miller won five of those games.

“I had never really been the No. 1 starter for any team,” he said. “Finally in high school, it happened; I’m pretty happy with what I did.”

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Miller is also a good hitter; he batted .324 last year for Laguna. He plays first base when not pitching and can also play third.

Yet, it’s his pitching arm that the Breakers hope can take them a long way.

“He’s a very good competitor, a hard worker,” Sears said. “He’s done a phenomenal job for us. This is his third year on varsity, and he’s grown up.”

The Breakers’ pitching staff is formidable, with senior Mike Maxsenti as a starter and junior Chris Paul — last year’s league Most Valuable Player — and junior Keaton Jones as closers.

“When we play how we can play, we can beat anyone,” Miller said. “We’re working well as a team.”

Laguna has not won a league title in 47 years, yet this year the Breakers seem to have as good a chance as anyone in a very competitive league.

If Miller can keep pitching this way, no one can call those who predict a great season “Lagunatics.”



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