SCARBOROUGH — Mike D’Andrea stood before his Scarborough High baseball players 10 minutes after they defeated Cheverus on Monday afternoon and congratulated them on their latest win.

Then he did what he does best.

Teach.

As the wind whipped across the baseball diamond, D’Andrea spoke in detail about some of his hitters’ at-bats, driving home a point that could be used later in the season.

“I was talking about hitter’s count swings, 2-0, 3-1,” he said. “We can’t be getting fisted inside on those counts and that happened a couple of times in the game.”

D’Andrea is coaching this spring at the high school level for the first time in eight years – passing along not only his knowledge but his love of a sport that has been the cornerstone of his life.

Following a three-sport career at Portland High, D’Andrea pitched at the University of Maine (where he still holds several records, including 27 career wins) and then for four years in the Atlanta Braves’ farm system (28-24 record).

ADDRESSING THE PAST

He became the head coach at Deering High in 1997 and won seven state championships. His Nova Seafood American Legion team also won four state titles and a national championship in 2004.

D’Andrea, 46, resigned after Deering’s third consecutive state championship in 2008, in the aftermath of a team celebration that involved underage drinking. He prefers not to talk about his decision to leave, saying only that “it wasn’t on my terms.”

D’Andrea did not attend the party, which was held at the home of an assistant coach. But he resigned as baseball coach and girls’ basketball coach following an investigation. In his resignation letter he said his decision was based on “the scrutiny this event has placed on me. … I want to make it clear that I did nothing wrong and this resignation should in no way infer to anyone an admission of improper actions.” He remained at Deering as a physical education teacher.

D’Andrea kept involved in coaching at the Edge Academy, a baseball and softball training center in Portland. He applied for the baseball opening at Thornton Academy in 2010 but didn’t get the job. When Scarborough’s position came open last fall, he put his name in.

Scarborough Athletic Director Mike LeGage said D’Andrea jumped immediately to the top of the applicants.

“Certainly Mike is probably one of the strongest coaches, in general, in Maine, regardless of the sport,” said LeGage. “We’re very fortunate to have him. He’s a true student of the game.”

D’Andrea assembled a group of veteran coaches – Jim Cronin, Pat Donahue, Wes Ridlon, Marc Sawyer and Alan Sutyak – and realizes the Scarborough program is a work in progress.

“I can’t do things with these guys that we did at Deering,” he said. “But we’re only in Year One. Once they figure out the system and how we want to play, there’ll be a change in our identity.”

Scarborough, coming off a 7-9 season, has a 9-2 record.

“When I started at Deering, they were 3-13 the year before. We went 12-5 my first year, state championship my second.”

So far, D’Andrea loves the attitude of his players.

“We try to do things the right way from walking onto the field to prepping the field after,” he said. “Obviously between the lines we try to do things in a good fashion – run hard, make plays, cutoffs, the little things. Working hard is a non-negotiable. That’s something that they know is not going to change. They’ve all put in a lot of work.”

‘HE’S REALLY PUSHING US’

Lance Johnson, Scarborough’s football coach, said he often goes to baseball practice to watch D’Andrea work with players on details. “He’s always giving little pointers,” Johnson said.

Like the one D’Andrea gave senior catcher Bayley Welsh. After watching Welsh throw to second base, D’Andrea showed him how to get a quicker release.

“Coach D’Andrea came in and shaped us up,” said Welsh. “He’s always on me, I tell you. And that’s a great thing. He never lets me off the hook and that’s awesome. I want to learn.”

Josh Reed, Scarborough’s 6-foot-4, 240-pound pitcher, said small tips from D’Andrea helped him gain accuracy.

“He’s really pushing us,” said Reed, a senior who plans to play football at Maine Maritime Academy. “A lot of drills in practice, a lot of repetition. He just knows more stuff than we’re used to.”

D’Andrea said Reed may be the most improved player on the team: “On a scale of 1-10, he started at a 3 and is now a 6 or 7 in just three weeks. He retains everything we tell him and he applies it in the game.”

Mike Rutherford, D’Andrea’s longtime coaching rival at Portland, is not surprised that D’Andrea is having that effect on the Red Storm.

“They had decent talent to begin with,” said Rutherford. “If you had to guess, they were going to win seven games, Mike is going to add four to that. He makes that team that much better than it should be.

“He’s got them playing good baseball. It’s good to see him back in the league. Kids have missed it.”

How so?

“Of all the coaches I’ve ever worked with, he understands the game better than anybody,” said Rutherford. “He teaches the game. He doesn’t just coach it. Kids leave the program knowing how to play the game.”

A CHANGE IN PRIORITIES

D’Andrea hasn’t changed the way he coaches, but he has changed in other ways. The years away from high school athletics gave him a different perspective.

D’Andrea wants his players to consider things other than sports when looking at colleges. That’s a leap for a guy who immersed himself in athletics while growing up. His father died when he was 8, his mother died when he was 12. He was raised by his sister, Patty. Sports was what kept him focused.

“It was my identity,” he said. “It kept me on track.”

Now, he said, he wants his players to get the best education.

“I want them to go where they’re going to be happy, but it’s more than that,” he said. “You look at the players who go from college to the pros and there are so few of them. If you go to a school like Bowdoin or Dartmouth, you’re going to get an interview for every job you apply to.

“That’s valuable. That’s more helpful in life than maybe learning how to turn a double play.”