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Former Trabuco Hills High and Saddleback College standout pitcher Ryan Poe, 42, who became a successful youth baseball coach and a volunteered with Roosevelt High of Eastvale, died Friday at an Upland hospital from a staph infection that led to septic shock, his wife, Shelly, said.
Poe, the father of four children, suffered a sudden medical decline after injuring his collarbone March 28, his wife said.
Shelly said her husband was found to have undiagnosed diabetes and tested negative for the novel coronavius (COVID-19).
“Baseball and his family, that was his life,” she said of Poe, her high school sweetheart.
In Orange County, Poe was known as the right-handed pitcher with pin-point control who helped Saddleback College finish as the state champion runner-up to Sacramento City in 1998. It was the Gauchos’ first state tournament appearance since 1984.
Poe earned state player of the year honors in ’98, posting a 14-1 record with a 2.56 ERA. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 21st round and advanced as high as AA during his career in the minor leagues.
The year before his run with Saddleback College, Poe was a key, behind-the-scenes coach on the South Mission Viejo Little League team that lost to Mexico in the finals of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Poe, then 19, threw batting practice to the team and was dubbed the “Miracle Worker” for his work with the squad of 11 and 12-year-old all-stars.
“I love Ryan. I feel really sad,” said Jim Gattis, the manager of the South Mission Viejo team who also served as Poe’s pitching coach under Jack Hodges at Saddleback College. “He coached a lot of kids. … It’s a real loss.”
Poe coached numerous youth baseball teams. His travel teams included the OC Smash, OC Crushers, Ladera Grays and Eastvale Smash. He also coached with Eastvale Little League.
“He was really advanced with (pitching) mechanics,” Gattis said. “Ryan was a good baseball guy.”
At Roosevelt High, Poe helped throw batting practice and worked with hitters, said Mustangs coach Kyle Billingsley. Poe’s son. Hayden, was a senior on this year’s team..
“He was a real good guy,” Billingsley said of Poe. “He was always around the field.”
The second-year coach learned of Poe’s deep connections with youth baseball when Roosevelt played Mission Viejo in the finals of the Newport Elks tournament at the Great Park in Irvine in late February.
Poe chatted with numerous people in a return to Orange County, which was made even more special with Hayden pitching 2 innings.
“He was like the mayor,” Billingsley said. “He knew everybody.”
Poe established the same bonds in Eastvale. He had last coached the Eastvale Little League team of his youngest son, Easton, 6.
He and Shelly also have a son Cade, 14, and daughter, Rylee, 10.
Billingsley said several youth baseball players are planning to ride past the Poe’s home in Eastvale on Sunday, April 5 in a parade to show their respect and appreciate for Poe. A gofundme page also has been established to help the family.
Shelly said she has been overwhelmed by the community’s support and with how many lives her husband touched through baseball. “Amazing,” she said.
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