Estancia High standout Tyler Rios is the Daily Pilot Baseball Dream Team Player of the Year.

Estancia High standout Tyler Rios is the Daily Pilot Baseball Dream Team Player of the Year. (SCOTT SMELTZER / Daily Pilot / July 5, 2013)

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Back in mid-May, Tyler Rios learned his Estancia High baseball team's fate depended on his right arm. This was a week before he even knew whom he was going to pitch against in the wild-card round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.

Estancia relied on that same arm of Rios' before in a must-win situation. To keep their hopes of finishing second in the Orange Coast League alive, the Eagles needed to beat the same team twice in as many days.

Rios got the first chance on the mound in the final week of the regular season. He didn't really falter, as he threw a complete game, allowing only three runs. His team just failed to provide any run support against Calvary Chapel and the Eagles lost, 3-0, and their shot at second place.

Soon after, Coach Nate Goellrich gave Rios a heads up on what to expect next. Goellrich knew the third-place finish in league would put Estancia in a wild-card game on the road for the second time in three years.

"We're going to go with you," Rios said Goellrich told him before saying, "just get us to the next round, get us past the wild-card round."

Rios took the ball and never gave it back to Goellrich. The senior started the playoff opener and finished it.

The one player who Goellrich trusted to come through in a big spot delivered. Rios went the distance, helping the Eagles beat Montebello, 7-1, and register their second wild-card victory in three years.

Rios played a key role in both wild-card triumphs. The playoff wins are Estancia's only two in the past 21 seasons.

Rios helped change the culture at Estancia during his four years as a starter on varsity. He turned a losing program into a playoff one right away.

Rios' standout final season and his impact on Estancia are why he is the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year in baseball. Whether he was at shortstop, on the mound, in the batter's box, in the dugout, or shagging balls in the outfield, Rios led the Eagles with grace and class.

"He was a coach on the field for us with his senior leadership and knowledge of the game," Goellrich said. "He was a great teammate and also did a great job mentoring our younger players in the program. It was a privilege coaching him the past two years, as opposed to coaching against him the first two years while [I was an assistant coach] at Costa Mesa.

"His work ethic and dedication to the game was excellent and he helped make the other players around him better."

Getting better is what Rios strove for each time he took the field for the Eagles. Each time, he improved and his final high school season turned out to be his finest.

He stood out yet again as a shortstop and hitter, and for the first time as a pitcher. Rios earned Dream Team honors for the third straight year and first-team All-Orange Coast League honors for the second straight year.

Rios hit .402 with 17 runs batted in and seven doubles. He scored 21 runs and stole five bases.

As a pitcher, Rios went 4-3 with a 1.81 earned-run average. He struck out 37 in 50 innings and recorded a save.

The Eagles (17-10, 9-6 in league) always knew Rios could pitch, but he said elbow and shoulder problems stopped him from throwing much his sophomore and junior years.

Going into his senior year, Rios said his arm felt healthy. Goellrich gave him his first start at the end of March. Rios opened the Beach Pit Classic tournament by tossing a complete game against Sun Valley Village Christian. He got the win against a team that went on to reach the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.

Rios' first and last starts on the hill for Estancia produced similar results. The reasons for his success were due to him hitting his spots and allowing his defense to take care of the rest.

After that last start in which he allowed six hits and struck out two against Montebello, Rios returned to shortstop in the first-round playoff game at South Torrance. One hit is all the Eagles produced in a 7-2 loss.