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Up until this season, Jared Pine was accustomed to being the leadoff batter for James Buchanan's baseball team.

This year, he was moved down to the No. 3 spot - for good reason - and it's paying off.

"I was hoping he would stay our secret weapon for awhile," JB coach Dave Sanchez said. "We've got a 120-pound, 5-foot-3 guy in the three-hole, and we wanted him to stay our secret weapon a little bit longer."

Unfortunately for that strategy, but fortunately for the Rockets, Pine can't be ignored any longer. He is off to a fantastic start, and he is the Public Opinion Male Athlete of the Week.

In a pair of victories for JB this season, Pine went 4-for-6, racking up seven RBIs. He smacked a pair of doubles and drove in five runs against West Perry alone.

Pine said, "It's a lot different from last year when I went from batting leadoff - where my job was just to get on base - to batting third; now my job is to move guys up and plate runners. It's a very different role for me."

It's definitely a change, but it's also working. For the season, JB is 3-0 and Pine is 7-for-10.

"He's on fire; he's worked really hard, and it's definitely been paying off," Sanchez said. "We knew early on that he had the capability of being an unbelievable high school hitter, and I'm glad he's seeing the results on the field."

Not only has his approach at the plate been steady, Pine has also done some fine work in the field. In both victories this week, Sanchez noted key plays from Pine at shortstop in the final innings.

"I just try to use my speed to my advantage and try to read the ball coming off the bat," Pine said. "I can use what the catcher is calling up with his pitch signal; there's a lot of communication there, and I use that to figure out where I think the ball will be hit. I also have a certain way of playing, depending on who is batting."

Sanchez said, "He had some huge plays at shortstop that really saved us. A lot of shorts would've gone to a different base or had runs scored against them, but two times Jared got us out of big jams with his glove."

Jared Pine, James Buchanan

Sport: Baseball

Position: Shortstop

Grade: Junior

Parents: Merle and Bev Pine

Other interests: Jared likes to hunt and fish, and also plays basketball and soccer for the Rockets. 

Surprising fact: He always says a prayer before a game, and No. 2 has always been his lucky number. 

Favorite team: Boston Red Sox

Athlete most admired: Dustin Pedroia

Statistics: In two games this week, Pine was 4-for-6 with two doubles and seven RBIs ... He and the Rockets have won three straight to start the season. 

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