- April 6, 2023
Kyle Marsh, Flagler Palm Coast’s first-year baseball coach, has watched his team progress from Day 1.
All the hard work led to a celebration on May 4 on Atlantic Coast High School’s baseball field as the Bulldogs raised the District 1-7A championship trophy.
Senior left-hander Tristen Miller pitched six shutout innings and freshman second baseman Caysen Nobles smacked a three-run double to deep center field to propel the Bulldogs to a 9-0 win over Creekside High School for the district championship.
It is the FPC's first district baseball title since 2015.
“It feels great,” Marsh said. “For this to be my first year taking over the program, I couldn't ask for a better year. These guys gave everything they had on the field throughout the whole year, stayed together as a family, and I really couldn't be more proud of them. I'm just lucky enough to be able to coach them.”
The Bulldogs (16-12) won three games in four days to win the district tournament. They defeated tournament host Jacksonville Atlantic Coast 15-5 on May 1, Sandalwood 5-3 on May 2 and the top-seeded Knights in the championship game.
“It feels amazing,” said Miller, who scattered three hits, walked two and struck out five.
“From last year to this year to the start of the fall to the beginning of the spring, these guys work their tails off,” Marsh said. “Anything I threw at them, they ran with it. I challenged them (with a difficult schedule), and I told them every day that I'm preparing them to be ready for districts, and they stepped up to the plate.”
The district championship guaranteed FPC a spot in the playoffs. But the Florida High School Athletic Association's new playoff process no longer guarantees district champs a home game in the regional quarterfinals. As the eighth seed in Region 1-7A, FPC is scheduled to travel to Lake Mary on Wednesday, May 10 for a first-round game.
These guys gave everything they had on the field throughout the whole year, stayed together as a family, and I really couldn't be more proud of them.” — KYLE MARSH, FPC baseball coach
Miller (3-3) pitched six innings for the second time this season. In the most important game he’s pitched this year, he had his best stuff against the Knights (18-8).
“I struggled most of the year, but today I knew I had to lock it in and get it done,” he said. “My changeup was working. I got them all off-balanced pretty good.”
Miller and Creekside left-hander Roman Bascelli were locked in a pitching duel for five innings. The Bulldogs left four runners in scoring position through the first four innings but couldn’t get a runner around until the sixth when they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs.
Dalton Schell opened the inning with a double to right field. After a single and an error loaded the bases, Connor May was hit by a pitch to drive in the first run of the game. Pinch hitter Ayden Normandin walked to make it 2-0, and Nobles cleared the bases with a double over the center fielder’s head off reliever Logan Duprey.
“I saw it out of his hand. It was a fastball down the middle,” Nobles said, adding that he didn’t realize how deep he had hit it.
“I thought I popped it up,” he said.
Normandin stayed in the game in left field and made the catch of the night. Miller, after sitting for a long stretch during the six-run inning, loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with two walks and a hit batter. After Miller struck out Denis Cory for the second out, Michael Bysheim crushed a long fly to left field that looked like it would go for extra bases. Normandin ran down the ball and made the catch at the fence.
“The bases were loaded, so I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to track it down. If it gets past me, it will probably score three runs,’” the sophomore said. “I’m running and my hat’s moving up and down, so I flip the hat off, and I’m just camped under it, and I catch it in the palm.”
The Bulldogs scored three more runs in the seventh as Nobles collected his fourth RBI with a single, and Brayden Stuart added a two-run triple.
Dalton Roberts pitched the seventh for FPC, stranding runners on second and third to preserve the shutout. Fittingly, Normandin caught a fly for the final out.
“That one was hit right to me,” he said. “I didn’t really have to move.”