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Coach: Keaton is 'real deal'

Keaton Jones, in his third year on varsity, holds team-high records this year in doubles, walks, stolen bases, runs scored.

April 21, 2011|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com
  • Laguna Beach's Keaton Jones fields a ground ball during the April 13 game against Estancia.
Laguna Beach's Keaton Jones fields a ground ball… (KENT TREPTOW, Coastline…)

It has been a magical ride, thus far, for the Laguna Beach High baseball team.

The Breakers have feasted on unfounded success in 2011 by setting — at 19 games, and counting — the school record for wins in a single-season in the 73rd year of the program's history. They've worked hard to enjoy their just desserts, that hard work starting back in September in the weight room. Their diligence and attention to detail, combined with a focused, experienced team, has helped the squad continue on a course that could end a famine of futility on the diamond that dates back decades.

The program hasn't won a league championship since taking the Orange League title 1963. Just two other times, 1954 and 1957, has the program won a title. The current Breakers, however, are solidly on course to get that first league ring in 48 years: They hold down first place in the Orange Coast League by four games, with six to play.

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Coach Jeff Sears says the player who "sets the table" this year is Keaton Jones. The senior pitcher and middle infielder — he plays shortstop and second base — has come into his own in his third year on varsity.

"He's the poster child of a player who works extremely hard to be the best he can be," Sears said. "He works that way in the weight room, the classroom and on the field. I tell him that to his face, in fact. He's really matured into himself and into his abilities.

"He comes to play every day. We break from our team huddle to the chant, 'All in,' and Keaton's 'all-in' every day. He's a team guy and he helps bring everyone together. He has a tremendous arm and has developed tremendous foot work through his work ethic. He gets around ground balls that kids at the high school level don't usually get to. He's the 'real deal'."

In 21 games, Jones has a .408 batting average in 71 at-bats. He has a team-high 11 doubles, a team-high in walks (14), team-high in stolen bases (nine), team-high for runs scored (27), is tied for most triples (two) and has 16 RBIs. On the mound, he picked up his third win of the season with a relief victory Tuesday over Calvary Chapel. He's 3-0 with an 0.81 ERA and also has a team-best five saves on the year.

Last year, he was first-team all-league.

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