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Aztecs, Demarest Keep On Winning

March 20, 2001|MIKE HAUBRICH

Another season, another winning streak for La Quinta.

The top-ranked Aztecs, who have started at least 10-0 the last three years, appear a safe bet to do it again. They carry a 9-0 record into their Garden Grove League opener Wednesday against Rancho Alamitos.

In his 28th year at the helm of La Quinta, Dave Demarest has produced some eye-popping numbers: 569 victories, 15 league titles, 24 playoff appearances, and back-to-back Southern Section titles in 1994-95.

"The numbers are unbelievable," Demarest said, "but so are the expectations that come with them."

Never was that more evident than last season, when the Aztecs opened with a school-record 21-game winning streak and went on to win their eighth consecutive league title. But La Quinta fell in the first round of the Division IV playoffs to Western, 6-3.

That loss marked the first time in eight seasons that La Quinta didn't reach at least the quarterfinals, but it didn't faze Demarest.

"We didn't have that type of team," he said. "Even though we were [highly ranked], we didn't have any playoff experience.

"The playoffs are a reward system. You can win CIF one year, and lose in the first round the next. The highs and lows are amazing."

Now, with the 600-victory mark a probability next season, and a third CIF title--Demarest has led the Aztecs to five section title game appearances--a possibility this year, Demarest can reflect on part of his coaching legacy.

"I've lost in every round of the playoffs at least twice," Demarest said. "Not many coaches get to say that."

SIZZLING SOPHOMORE

Corona del Mar has four victories this season, and sophomore pitcher Nick Rhodes has contributed to each of them.

After earning wins as a starter in the Sea Kings' first two victories over Magnolia and Tustin, Rhodes has saved the last two, including pitching two perfect innings in a 13-9 victory over Laguna Beach in a Pacific Coast League opener.

Rhodes has given up one unearned run--none earned--in 17 innings, striking out 18 and giving up only nine hits and one unearned run.

"He stepped in against Fountain Valley in a fall league game last year and struck out four of six batters," Corona del Mar Coach John Emme said. "He made a believer of me right there, and has continued to show it's no fluke."

LOOKING AHEAD

Canyon plays at Villa Park at 3:15 p.m. Friday in a game that will set the tone early in the Century League.

Cypress plays at El Dorado in a key Empire League matchup also at 3:15 Friday.

El Dorado beat Kennedy, the defending Empire League champion, 11-0, behind Jeff Flaig's no-hitter Wednesday.

Irvine takes on Woodbridge and former Vaquero Coach Bob Flint at Windrow Park at 7 p.m. Friday.

If you have an item or idea for the high school baseball report, you can call us at (714) 966-7826 or e-mail us at ben.bolch@latimes.com

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BASEBALL

Orange County Sportswriters' Poll

*--*

Pos. School League Rec Pts 1. La Quinta G. Grove 9-0 38 2. Mater Dei Serra 7-0 36 3. San Clemente S. Coast 7-1 34 4. Esperanza Sunset 7-1 28 5. El Dorado Empire 7-1 23 6. Trabuco Hills South Coast 7-1 21 7. Irvine Sea View 6-1 14 8. Capo. Valley South Coast 5-2 10 9. Costa Mesa Pacific Coast 6-0 7 10. Sonora Freeway 6-1 4

*--*

Others: Cypress (6-2) 3, University (4-3) 2

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