CHAPEL HILL -- Dean Dease can't help but chuckle at the very thought of being an elder statesman. "I feel fortunate," said Dease. "I've been lucky to have coached baseball at Orange." He's been the head baseball coach at Orange for 20 years now. Ever since then-Orange Athletic Director Jim King made the decision to promote him after two years as junior varsity coach, he's seen plenty of changes. In 1988, there were only two high school teams in the county: Chapel Hill and Orange in Hillsborough. Now there are five, including a cross-town rival in Cedar Ridge. Within the past six years, the Panthers have gone from competing in the 4-A PAC-6 conference to the Mid-State 2-A conference. "It's enough to drive coaches a little nutty sometimes," said Dease, who graduated from UNC in 1984. "With over 700 young kids playing baseball in the northern Orange County area, there's definitely enough talent between the two teams and both teams have been successful." There's also more balance in Orange County as a whole. Chapel Hill has won three PAC-6 championships in the past five years, while East Chapel Hill took the 2003 3-A Eastern Regional title and played in the state championship series. But a championship in the 2008 Hilltop Invitational Baseball Tournament eluded every one of those teams.South Granville rallied for two runs in the seventh to defeat the Panthers 9-8 in the championship game Saturday night at CHHS. Clarence Peace drove in the game-winning runs with a double to hand Orange (9-1) its first loss of the season. Josh Darroach picked up the win on the mound for South Granville (11-4), while Orange's Scott Jarvis (1-1) took the loss."Hopefully, we'll learn from this," said Dease. "I think the guys realize they had a chance to win the game, up two in the last inning. We're going to face those opportunities again down the road when the conference season heats up." Chapel Hill (6-4) came away from the weekend with victories over Southern Lee and Archbishop Curley of Maryland. They dropped a 4-2 decision to South Granville on Friday. While a state championship has been out of reach for his team, so far, Dease has built a consistent program that's gained the admiration of neighboring coaches and recruiters. The Panthers have had 13 consecutive winning seasons, five straight state playoff appearances and seven conference championships. Thirty-three former OHS players have moved on to play in college or professionally; recently, Josh Horton brought favorable light onto the Panthers with his play for Mike Fox at the University of North Carolina.Even with all that success, not even Dease could imagine how well things would go on March 20, when his southpaw ace Ryan Walker struck out 20 batters in a seven-inning 7-0 rout of Northwood. Walker, who transferred to Orange from Chapel Hill after his mother got a job at Stanford Middle School, became the first pitcher to defeat the Chargers this season. Anyone who understands baseball knows there's nothing coaches value more than a tall left hander who throws heat, which is precisely what Orange has with Walker (3-0). "Ryan has a good frame, a good body and his arm isn't bad either," said Dease. "He definitely came in and made us a contender right away for a playoff spot and a league title." Panthers Larry McDonald, Marquis Riley (both of whom went 2-4 with a double in the HIT final) and Tommy Wright (5-9, with a homer and 3 RBI over three days) were all named to the three-day event's All-HIT Team.