No. 2 Lehi and No. 4 Olympus met at UVU Friday afternoon in the first game of a best-of-three series for the 5A baseball state championship.
The Pioneers took care of business, beating the Titans 10-9 for the series advantage after Day 1.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Pioneers found themselves down one with runners on first and third.
An errant Olympus throw to third base brought both runners home as the Pioneers turned the Titans’ mistake into dramatic game-winning runs.
“We got a break and we capitalized on it and we’re one win away (from a state championship),” Lehi head coach Jason Ingersoll said.
Both teams had dramatic finishes Wednesday to reach Friday’s contest. The Titans escaped a late surge by No. 12 Salem Hills, holding on for the 11-10 victory, while the Pioneers defeated No. 10 Bountiful 3-1 later that evening to advance to the state title series.
Lehi scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take its first lead of the contest before keeping the Redhawks at bay in the seventh to pick up the victory.
The Pioneers’ Friday victory was much different than the defensive battle against Bountiful.
Lehi scored a flurry of runs in the first, leading 6-1 after both teams’ initial go-around at the plate.
After loading the bases with no outs, the Pioneers piled on the runs. Lehi senior Jaxon Christensen did the biggest damage in the inning on a three-run homer over left field that gave his team a 5-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, Olympus put together a seven-run third to retake the lead. The Titans used five hits and two Pioneer errors to go ahead by two.
Lehi would outscore the Titans 4-1 the rest of the way, earning the come-from-behind victory on the Titans’ wild throw to third.
Both teams hope to play a cleaner game Saturday, as each ended with three errors Friday.
Ingersoll felt his team played uncharacteristically sloppy.
“We pride ourselves on our defense, and it kind of let us down today,” he said. “But one thing we’ve always done is not panic. If we panic, we lose the game. Fortunately, we got a break. We gave them a bunch of breaks.”
Lehi did a better job at capitalizing on those breaks than Olympus did. The Titans outhit the Pioneers by more than double but scattered 10 walks throughout the game, allowing Lehi to score on timely hits and self-inflicted missteps.
In the end, The Pioneers left Orem satisfied with the first game’s result.
“You always want to win the first game,” Ingersoll said. “We want to end it in two. We don’t want to go three.
“They’re a dangerous team. We know that. We’re just trying to win a state championship.”
One more victory and Lehi will win that state championship for the first time since a 2A title in 1981.
The Pioneers and the Titans will meet again when the best-of-three series resumes at UCCU Ballpark Saturday morning at 11 a.m.