CARY, N.C. – History was made at the USA Baseball National Training Complex on Saturday in Cary, N.C., as the University of West Florida baseball team won its first-ever national championship in a 12-2 win over Winona State.
The Argonauts surged ahead with four runs in the first and ran away with the win to claim the trophy. The national championship is the first baseball title in school history and the sixth across all sports at UWF.
Senior Daniel Vargas-Vila (Jacksonville, Fla./Wallace State CC-Dothan) (16-1) won his 16th game of the year and allowed just two runs in eight innings. The right-hander earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament, earning two wins and allowing just two runs in 16 innings. Vargas-Vila was relieved by senior closer Shane Waller (Bryceville, Fla./Northwest Florida State), who struck out the side in the ninth and clinched UWF’s first-ever baseball national championship.
Winona State starter Kodey Simon (8-3) received the loss, allowing seven runs, three earned, in four innings. The Argonauts rallied for five more runs off four Warrior pitchers over the final five innings.
West Florida wasted no time, scoring four runs in the first inning on three consecutive RBI base hits by Josh Huggins (Bay Minette, Ala./Faulkner State CC), Leo Lamarche (Miami, Fla./Wallace State CC-Dothan), and Zach Taylor (Vindiver, Ala./Wallace State CC-Hanceville).
The Argos continued their offensive attack, plating three runs in the fourth on RBI base hits by Taye Larry (Panama City, Fla./Wallace State CC-Dothan), Brandon Brewer (Apopka, Fla./Apopka HS), and Huggins to take a 7-0 lead. UWF then plated a run in both the fifth and sixth innings on RBI singles by Brewer and Taylor, taking a comfortable 9-0 lead.
The Argos continued to add to their lead with two more runs in the seventh inning on a two-RBI double off the left center field wall by Dustin Lawley (Bessemer, Ala./Wallace State CC-Hanceville), taking the lead to double digits at 11-0.
Vargas-Vila had a shutout entering the eighth, but Winona State rallied for two runs to get on the scoreboard for the first time.
Along with Vargas-Vila, UWF had three other players earn spots on the all-tournament team: third baseman Josh Huggins and outfielders Taye Larry and Greg Pron.
With Saturday’s win, the Argonauts finished their historic season with a school record 52 wins and just nine losses. In a season of firsts, the most significant one was the program’s first national championship. For information on all UWF Athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.