Just two days before Thursday’s matchup between bitter Region 6 rivals Skyline and Olympus, the Eagles handed the No. 1 ranked Titans their first loss of the season with a 6-0 shutout win.
Forty-eight hours later, the Titans returned the favor on their home field with a 9-4 victory over Skyline. The win redeems the only real blemish on what’s an otherwise a strong resume for Olympus.
Following the season’s first loss on Tuesday, Olympus head coach Corland Felts said his players knew they needed to right the wrongs they committed in that game when they rematched later in the week.
“The pressure was on us today,” Felts said, “and the guys just responded. These guys have been that way all year long. They’re resilient, they get big hits when they need them and it’s really just an unbelievable group.”
After being held scoreless on Tuesday, the Titans got their strong, balanced hitting game back into form, recording 11 hits with four separate players recording an RBI — led by junior Mic Paul (3). Felts said that his team’s balanced offense has been their strength all season long, but was missing in Tuesday’s loss when his players failed to get hits with runners in scoring position.
The balanced hitting made its comeback this time around.
“Today especially we were all over the board, from 1 to 9, everybody contributed,” Felts said. “That (balanced hitting) has been our MO all season. I challenged our players at batting practice this morning and they responded in a big way.”
The game was neck-and-neck for the most part, but Olympus clinged to a marginal lead through the first five innings. However, in the bottom of the sixth, the Titans came out with their bats red-hot, scoring four runs and more than doubling the two-run lead they had going into the frame.
“We run the bases as well as anybody and it showed in that inning, that’s why we put up a four spot,” Felts said when asked what clicked for his team in the sixth. “We usually figure that once a game we’ll get a big inning and that’s what happened there.”
That big inning presented the Eagles with a mountain to climb in the final inning, where they got a run, but were ultimately unable to get the six runs that they needed. Olympus shortstop Zack Goodrich made an impressive, diving catch on a frozen rope to get the third out and officially secure the revenge victory.
Both teams and their supporters brought immense amounts of energy throughout the rivalry game, creating an electric atmosphere. Skyline head coach Eric Morgan said that it was the same way in Tuesday’s game as well.
“These two games were probably the two best atmospheres I’ve ever coached in,” Morgan said, while also adding that that atmosphere may have contributed to some of the mistakes his players made in the game. “I think our guys were a little anxious, a little pumped up, we chased a few pitches, and I think that’s hard sometimes for these high school kids to slow the game down when we’ve got a big crowd and it’s loud.”
Despite Thursday’s loss, Skyline still came into the game having accomplished what no other team has done this season: beat the Titans. The win has likely put the Eagles on everyone’s radar who may have neglected them coming into the season.
“I always have, in the back of my head, the fact that we were picked to finish fifth in the region coming into this season,” Morgan said. “If you don’t believe that we’re one of the top teams in 5A, you better start believing because we just proved it this week.”
Skyline is now 13-5 on the season, but has won six of its past seven games against 5A opponents.
As for Olympus, the win improves it to 16-1 on the season and 7-1 in a tough Region 6. Felts said that the win was important for his team not only because it was a rivalry game and a chance to redeem themselves, but because every region win is important going forward.
“It’s a big win because it’s a region game and it can give us some separation going forward,” Felts said. “We’ve got Hillcrest and Murray coming up, both quality teams, but I think this win will help us catapult into those games.”