FORT MYERS — Lost opportunity proved costly.
Orangewood Christian's bid to win the school's first state baseball championship will have to wait at least another year.
Tallahassee North Florida Christian rallied form a three-run deficit and defeated the Rams (26-8) 6-3 to earn the Class 3A state title at jetBlue Park on Thursday.
The Eagles (26-4) won their fourth state championship under coach Mike Posey since 1995. Both of Orangewood's losses in the state final have come to North Florida Christian, the first coming in 2011 to decide the 2A champion.
After Forrest Wall opened the game with a home run, the Rams loaded the bases with one out in the first inning but failed to score.
"More runs definitely would have helped," Wall said. "It's a game of inches, and those are some runs we could have used. We didn't, and it is what it is."
Said Posey: "We tried to minimize the damage. I thought we did a good job holding them to one run. It could have been a five- or six-run inning."
Orangewood led 3-0 before North Florida Christian scored twice in the fifth and four times in the sixth. After the Eagles tied the score, the game was halted for just over two hours because of a rain delay.
Caleb Jakes, the Rams' fourth and final pitcher, came on after the delay and allowed consecutive singles that tacked on three more runs to give the Eagles a three-run lead.
Rams first baseman Jackson Lueck's two-run double in the top of the third inning gave Orangewood a 3-0 lead.
The Rams finished with two hits.
"Timely hitting has been our key all year." Orangewood coach Scott Hilinski said. "It's what got us to this point. Unfortunately that is the way the game works."
Four area teams remain alive in the state tournament. DeLand will face Homestead South Dade in an 8A semifinal at 10 a.m. today, while Kissimmee Osceola will face Tarpon Springs East Lake in a 7A semifinal at 7 tonight.
Deltona Trinity Christian and Orlando Christian Prep will play in separate 2A semifinals Monday.
An area school is attempting to win a state title for the third consecutive year. In 2012, Port Orange Spruce Creek prevailed in 8A, and Trinity Christian captured the 2A title. Lake Brantley won the 8A championship last year.