Virgen's View: Rios ready for the future

Tyler Rios is at the point where he can teach. Yet, the Estancia High senior baseball standout is humble enough to know he is still learning.

He knows a great deal about the game and he wants to pass it on. Rios' cousin, Nick Torres, is a freshman who plays shortstop. He's played varsity a few games this season. Rios usually stars as the Eagles' shortstop.

"I've been around baseball for only 14 years and I've learned a lot," said Rios, after he helped lead the Eagles to a 7-1 win at Montebello in a CIF Southern Section Division 4 wild-card game Tuesday. "I'm still learning. Everything seems new sometimes. But it's fun to know you have someone to teach. He's learned a lot. He really listens well."

It's this type of character that helped Rios and his choices for his future. He had help along the way, which made it natural for him to help others too.

Before his fourth and final varsity baseball season began, Rios wasn't sure where he would play in college. All his life he had dreamed to play at the next level.

For a while he thought about playing at Orange Coast College because he views OCC as a great JC program.

But Rios instead opted to play at UC Riverside, where he'll begin as a walk-on. Rios had mentors who helped him, he said. He wanted the help for the important choice he was about to make.

His father, Cisco, has always been there, as a Little League coach and an assistant for a few years at Estancia.

Rios said he also received guidance from Doug Deutsch.

"He used to be a scout for the Astros," Rios said. "He's been a family friend. He's helped me out a lot. He's helped me ease through all the stress."

Rios also received help from what would seem like an unlikely source, Calvary Chapel Coach Tom Nick. Nick is also the coach of Rios' club baseball team, Blue Wave.

Rios said UC Riverside Coach Doug Smith has been active in helping Rios reach his goals.

And of course there is Estancia Coach Nate Goellrich, who has admired Rios' steady play and leadership for the Eagles.

Goellrich gave the start to Rios in the Eagles' playoff opener. Rios delivered a strong performance, a complete game with two strikeouts. He gave up six hits.

Rios stayed calm after he saw a call go against him in the third inning. His inside pitch was ruled to have hit the batter, which loaded the bases with one out.

But Rios and the Eagles moved past what appeared to be a bad call. He induced a groundout and a deep fly ball out.

Rios said team chemistry helped the Eagles to the win. He has had a strong hand in that. After the season, he wants to be a part of a new team, with the Highlanders.

He passed on OCC, as well as Vanguard University.

"I felt Riverside was a better fit for me," said Rios, who carries a 3.8 grade-point average and plans to major in sociology. "Vanguard was a little too close to home. Riverside is far enough to live and close enough to come and visit."

Rios said around the end of March he realized UC Riverside would be the best place for him. But he knows there will be challenges. That only excites him.

"As of now, there's no scholarship," Rios said. "I will walk on. [Smith] knows me. I did a camp up there. As long as I can play somewhere it doesn't matter if I walk on or if I have a full ride, I'm glad I know where I'm going and that I have a chance to play somewhere."

Rios and the Eagles (17-9) have a challenge Friday. They'll be playing at South Torrance (17-10), the Pioneer League champion, seeking their first first-round win since 1992.

Since Rios has been with the Eagles they have won two wild-card playoff games. Before that, Estancia was without a playoff win since 1992.

Rios hopes he can get that first-round win before moving on to UC Riverside.

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