Varsity Weekly: Timber Creek, Lake Brantley baseball coaches step down; Academic honors, and Esports grow in Orange County

It was a tough weekend for the Timber Creek baseball team, which lost a heartbreaking state semifinal 2-1 to Windermere High on Friday night in Fort Myers.

Wolverines right fielder Randy “RJ” Ruiz made a spectacular game-saving catch on a towering line drive off the bat of Timber Creek senior Tyler Mendoza. That shot would have bounced off the wall and scored two runners for the win if Ruiz hadn’t made like Superman.

The next morning, ahead of a Saturday final that saw Stoneman Douglas of Broward County edge Windermere 3-2 for the state championship, Timber Creek coach Tim Beaman told his players he was stepping down after 11 seasons as the Wolves coach.

“I told the guys before we got on the bus to go home. That was tough. It was emotional,” Beaman said Tuesday. “We were a hit away from playing for a state championship again. Our guy had a great hit and their guy made a great play. I’ve replayed it a lot since. Every time the kid [Ruiz] still makes the catch.

“You kinda know when it’s time to hang it up. For me, it’s time.”

Beaman, who turned 57 Tuesday, was an adjunct coach for Timber Creek while he owned and operated a pest control service. He and his retired wife Paula sold the company last June after nearly 32 years in the business. They now plan to move to their New Smyrna Beach townhouse and relax.

Beaman, an All-State catcher for Colonial as a 1985 senior, played college baseball before returning to Orlando and coaching East Orlando Little League teams. He joined the Timber Creek staff as a JV coach in 2013 and became head coach a year later.

His 195-101 record included a 15-1 mark in region playoffs. That postseason success gave Timber Creek final-four appearances five times in the past 10 years (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2024). The 2017 team won Timber Creek’s first and only baseball state championship. The Wolvers were runners-up in 2018.

Brantley baseball

Another highly successful veteran, Eric Entrekin, is bowing out as Lake Brantley’s baseball head coach after 13 seasons. He is becoming the Patriots athletic director.

Entrekin was 247-101 at Brantley, including a 2013 state championship and eight regional berths.

The 30-year coach plans to stay involved as a baseball assistant while handing the manager duties to Brantley alum Eddie Doyle, who was Entrekin’s assistant for 16 seasons — including three at Wekiva (2009-11).

Doyle becomes only the third Brantley head coach in a span of 40 years. Entrekin followed Mike Smith, who was 534-240 across 26 seasons with three state titles (1990, 1997, 2008).

Entrekin came out of UCF and was an 11-season assistant for Smith before becoming a head coach for Ocoee for three years. He went from there to Wekiva and landed the Lake Brantley job in 2012. His career record is 324-182.


Seven Orlando area student-athletes were named to the 2024 FHSAA’s Florida Dairy Farmers Academic All-State Team. That includes three Trinity Prep recipients: Coby Bitman, Grace Brady and Caden Clifton.

Brady joined three-sport athlete Molly Beliveau of First Academy Leesburg as two of the 12 girls selected.

Madeen Bourst of Olympia and Ethan Korkes of Apopka were among 12 boys honored.

To be considered for the $1,700 scholarship, graduating seniors must carry a 3.5 or better grade-point average and letter in at least two varsity sports during their junior and senior years.

Esports shines

Some will roll their eyes at the notion that competing in video games is a sport, considering that athleticism may not be required. But the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) district is sold on the value of its Esports programs.

Steve McHale, who spent 6 ½ years as Dr. Phillips’ athletic director, now works at OCPS headquarters and is overseeing the rapid growth of Esports.

“The hope is those experiences dove-tail with career paths in computer science, technology and auxiliary fields that include broadcasting, marketing, digital design, multimedia production, hospitality, coaching, and Esports management,” McHale stated in an email describing the program.

Orange County’s schools are ahead of the game. In a recent PlayVS Spring High School state championship event, Windermere High’s nationally ranked team won the Rocket League competition and Dr. Phillips was the best in Mario Kart play.

Horizon High hosted a Super Smash Brothers invitational for OCPS teams.

OCPS launched Esports in the spring of 2022 with 11 schools represented at Full Sail University. It now has teams from all 22 Orange County schools with competition in these video games: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros, Madden NFL, League of Legends, Hearthstone and NBA 2K.

“Year 1 teams are finding ways to bring a diverse group of students under a big tent,” said McHale, who retired as a Marine before going into the education field. “Esports, unlike other sports, has a way of attracting a variety of competitors. It allows students of any gender to compete together. It crosses grade levels, race and/or language.”

McHale wrote that more than $16 million has been awarded for Esport scholarships.

Varsity content editor Buddy Collings can be contacted by email at