Tyler Baum got the win and Cole Beavin got the save, combining for a shutout to lead the Warriors to a 3-0 victory over Orange City's University Titans in DeLand. With the win, West Orange advances to the program's first state semifinal appearance
DeLAND There have been a lot of good baseball teams that have taken the field at West Orange High School over the years.
Several great players — players who have gone on to play Division I college baseball, minor league ball and even Major League Baseball — have donned the blue-and-orange.
But, before Tuesday, none of those teams or players had quite been able to get the tradition-rich program over the hump of making it past the regional playoffs and into the FHSAA Final Four.
That all changed at Stetson's Melching Field May 10, in the FHSAA Class 9A, Region 1 Championship, as the Warriors (27-2) rode the arms of Tyler Baum and Cole Beavin to a 3-0 victory against host University (Orange City).
The win gave West Orange its first-ever regional title and advanced the Warriors to play in a state semifinal for the first time: West Orange will take on Parkland's Douglas High at 10 a.m. May 20 at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers.
Baum got the win for the Warriors, allowing just three hits over five innings while striking out 10 batters. Beavin came on for the two-inning save, earning all six outs by way of strikeout in front of a crowd of roughly 1,500.
For Baum, and other seniors in the program, the significance of the achievement was not lost upon them in the postgame celebration.
"We came into West Orange as a freshmen class and knew that we wanted to get something done," Baum said. "It took until our senior year, but we're glad to do it for (head coach Jesse) Marlo and everybody on this team."
Where Baum and Beavin were strong on the mound, the Warriors took a while to truly get going at the plate against University ace Logan Allen.
After stranding four runners in the first four innings, including three in scoring position, West Orange finally broke through in a wild fifth inning. Kole Enright had reached on a fielder's choice and Bobby Head drew a walk that drew that sparked the ire of the University dugout, setting up Chris Seise, who would single in the go-ahead pair of runs to break open the scoreless contest.
"The first two at-bats I was struggling ... my goal was just to put the ball in play and hopefully it would find a hole — and that's what it did," Seise said. "We hit all year. We knew we could hit (Allen) — no one is unhittable."
In the aftermath of the hit by Seise that scored the two crucial runs, Allen did something to lead the home platea umpire to eject the Titans' ace. That prompted a discussion between University manager Frank Martello and the umpire, the result of which was Martello's being ejected, also.
Michael Harkcom came on in relief for University and surrendered a run in the top of the seventh as West Orange's pinch-hitter extraordinaire, Gerry Brown, doubled in Justin Holmes, who was pinch-running for Matt Coello.
"Just like the rest of the season, we kept on going at it until balls started falling for us," Marlo said.
"We came into West Orange as a freshmen class and knew that we wanted to get something done. It took until our senior year, but we're glad to do it for (head coach Jesse) Marlo and everybody on this team."
Tyler Baum, senior pitcher
The Warriors' first trip to the state tournament is a particularly exciting achievement for Marlo, who is in his 11th season as the program's head coach.
"Obviously, it means a lot to me, but it's all about these kids and how hard they work," Marlo said. "I can honestly say I've never had a team, from top-to-bottom, that grinds as hard as these guys."
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].