Baum Bomb Helps Ohio Down Florida in MLL Semifinal


Peter Baum buried a key two-point goal and had three goals overall as Ohio beat Florida 18-13 to set up a rematch with Denver in the MLL Championship Game.

OBETZ, Ohio — A candidate to win the league MVP award and the Ohio Machine’s leading scorer, Peter Baum has made his share of important goals this season.

None was bigger than the one he threw into the net from just behind the two-point arc late in the third quarter of his team’s 18-13 victory over the Florida Launch in a Major League Lacrosse semifinal Saturday night at Fortress Field in Obetz.

With Ohio leading 12-11, Marcus Holman scored with 53.2 seconds left in the third period to give his team a two-goal lead.

Baum’s goal gave the Machine its biggest advantage up to that point at 15-11 and provided the final boost they needed to advance to the championship game Aug. 19 against the Denver Outlaws at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas.

“Those plays have the ability to really turn the tide of the game,” Baum said. “It was a bit of a see-saw battle, and any time you can jump ahead two at a time, that makes a big difference. I just threw one at the net as hard as I could and it happened to go in. That’s kind of how it goes when you’re shooting 2s, because it’s kind of far away.”

The win sets up a rematch of last year’s championship game, which the Outlaws won 19-18 for their second title in three seasons.

Denver beat Rochester 15-8 in the other semifinal Saturday to advance to their seventh title game in 12 seasons.

Both Ohio and Denver went 9-5 during the regular season, including splitting their two matchups as Ohio lost 13-11 on July 15 at home but won 13-12 on July 23 at Denver.

“We’re back in the championship game, but it’s also a rematch of a game that was so hard to take last year,” Ohio coach Bear Davis said. “If we’ve got to motivate this group for this game, then I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

Ohio handed Florida its worst loss of the season May 27 with a 19-7 victory, but the Launch figured to present a much tougher task in the rematch because of several midseason additions.

That proved to be the case.

The Machine marched to a 3-0 lead during the game’s first five minutes but Florida took a 6-5 advantage with 2:03 left in the second period on a goal by rookie Dylan Molloy.

Ohio struggled at times with possession during the regular season but got a strong performance from Greg Puskuldjian, who won 17-of-33 face-offs and scored one goal.

Davis called his team’s matchup against a Florida a “friendly” matchup for Puskuldjian.

“(Possession) was a difference maker,” Puskuldjian said. “Our offense is so good, just getting the ball is what I needed to do. It was just a total reset from the regular season. There’s a lot of revenge coming for Denver. It was a tough loss last season.”

With the game tied at 7 at the half, Ohio retook the lead with 11:59 to go in the third period on a power play goal by Baum, and he scored again 42 seconds later.

Connor Cannizzaro made it 10-7 with 10:56 left in the third.

Florida rallied to tie it at 10 before the Machine reestablished control.

“It’s really exciting, and to do it at home was great,” Baum said. “We have a bitter taste in our mouth from last year for sure, so we were just trying to get back to that point. That goal is down and now we’ve got another big one in front of us.”

According to Davis, being the more experienced team played a role as his team held on.

Cannizzaro, who was the fifth pick in this year’s MLL draft, finished with three goals and one assist for Florida while Marcus Holman had two goals and three assists and Tom Schreiber had three goals and three assists for the Machine.

Molloy was the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and showed that his future and the Launch’s is bright as he finished with four goals and one assist.

“They’ve got a bunch of very talented players and we just played as hard as we could for 60 minutes,” Molloy said. “Definitely not happy with the result, but we’re really excited for next season. We were just kind of shooting ourselves in the foot with fundamentals and just had a couple things that we needed to fix.”

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