Host Orangewood Christian (28-1) fell behind 4-0 in the top of the first inning, but with the help of four home runs the Rams rallied for a 15-5, six-inning victory over district rival Father Lopez (13-13) to advance to the Class 2A-Region 2 Championship Game this Friday.
The locals will get to remain at home for the final, hosting Jacksonville-Providence in Maitland starting at 4 p.m.
The four home runs give Orangewood 81 on the season, breaking the state record for home runs in a season, and when Tomas Nido launched his 17th home run of the season, a tape-measure blast in the second inning, it gave the junior the single-season record for Central Florida players.
Meanwhile, Lake Howell was nearly as impressive as the Silver Hawks ended Timber Creek’s 15-game winning streak with an 8-2 victory in a Class 6A-Region 1 Semifinal at Wolf Pack Park.
The victory sends Lake Howell (23-7) to its first-ever Regional Championship Game, in which the Silver Hawks will host Deltona this Friday at 7 p.m. in Casselberry.
Meanwhile, Deltona-Trinity Christian (21-7) kept its hopes of a third straight Class 1A State Championship alive by hold on for a 6-4 win over host Windermere Prep in a 1A-Region 2 semifinal on Friday.
The Eagles, coached by the Maples family, will travel to Winter Haven to face All Saints’ Academy on Friday.
Father Lopez looked like they might have Orangewood on the ropes early as Austin Goss hits 3-run home run off starter Cody Borup to highlight a four-run top of the first inning for the Green Wave.
But it could have been worse as Lopez still had the bases loaded when William Dvorak finally came on to get the final out of the inning.
The hosts quickly tied the score as Dante Bichette Jr. launched a 2-run home run to tie the state record of 80 and then moments later Cody Warren blasted another 2-run home run to break the state record and tie the game at 4-4.
The Green Wave went 3-up, 3-down in the top of the second and Orangewood took the lead for good on a run-scoring single by Bichette Jr., which was followed by back-to-back home runs by Nido, a 2-run shot, and Vince Conde, both well into the second floor of the school beyond the center field fence, capping another 4-run inning that gave the Rams an 8-4 lead.
Orangewood added two runs to its lead in the third before the Green Wave scored its final run in the fourth, chasing Dvorak for Garrett Gross, and the hosts closed out the run-rule win with a 4-run fifth and a single run in the fifth inning.
Christian Magno came on to get the final five outs, allowing just one walk.
Bichette Jr., who added a sacrifice fly to his homer and RBI single, finished the day 2-for-2 with the home run, scored three runs and drove in four to highlight a 15-hit attack.
Warren was 3-for-4 with the home run, scored a run and drove in three, while Conde was 2-for-5 with a home run and a double, a run scored and four RBI.
Other contributors were Alex Carter (2-for-4, double, three runs), Joey Swinarski (2-for-4, double, two runs), Forest Wall (2-for-4, three runs), Nido (1-for-2, home run, three runs, three RBI) and Borup (1-for-4).
Kelmin Escalera allowed two earned runs on six hits over 5-2/3 innings, walking two and striking out one, to earn the victory on the hill and Jose Ortega came on to strike out four of the five batters he faced, allowing one hit, to record the save as Lake Howell earned its spot in the Final 8.
Ortega also led a 12-hit offensive attack, going 2-for-4 with a double and driving in three runs.
All 10 players that appeared in the game for the Silver Hawks contributed with either a hit or a run scored.
In addition to Ortega, also contributing were Trent Masih (2-for-3, double, run, RBI), Jonael Feliciano (2-for-4, double, two runs), Javier Remigio (2-for-4, RBI), Nathan Ventura (1-for-2, double, two runs, two RBI), Keith Bush (1-for-4, run), Daniel Bouch and Omar Garcia (both 1-for-4) and Mark Larador and Eddie Santiago (one run scored each).
Friday’s winners will advance to the 2011 FHSAA Baseball Finals at Digital Domain Park (the Spring Training home of the New York Mets) in Port St. Lucie.
Classes 1A and 3A will play their semifinals on Wednesday, May 18 and Championship Game on Thursday, May 19; followed by Classes 2A and 5A on Friday, May 20 (semifinals) and Saturday, May 21 (Championship Game); and Classes 4A and 6A on Monday, May 23 (semifinals) and Tuesday, May 24 (Championship Game), with all of the finals being televised live by the Bright House Sports Network (BHSN) on Channel 47 or in HD on Channel 1147.