ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – When you’re the No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation, in both the USA Today and MaxPreps rankings, each game feels like so much is on the line.
Orlando’s Olympia High School improved to 17-0-1 on the season Saturday while defending its Florida League High School Invitational title with a 2-0 win over Pembroke Pines Charter at Lake Brantley High School.
The national attention will continue to follow the Titans as they near postseason play.
“We try not to focus on that,” Olympia coach Chuck Schall said. “The rankings and all that, it’s always there, but we try not to let those expectations dictate how we play.
“Every time we win these close ballgames it just makes us tougher.”
Olympia is winning close games thanks to a stable of quality pitchers and equally impressive efforts defensively.
Florida commit Michael Byrne started strong Saturday and made quick work of opposing batters by working the front outside corner of the plate with ease for four strikeouts and four hits against in seven innings of work.
“He’s been like that his whole career,” Schall said of Byrne. “He’s a strike thrower; he works fast, he pitches with confidence, he holds runners, he’s everything you want out of a high school pitcher.”
UCF commit Juan Hillman, one a handful of quality pitchers for the Titans, scored both runs against Pembroke Pines as the team’s designated hitter. He hit a double in the first inning and reached home on singles by Kirk Sidwell and Jordan Morrow.
“He really still hasn’t been at his best yet but he’s starting to pitch a lot better,” Schall said of Hillman. “Maybe because it’s his senior year and there’s been a lot of scouts out here and he knows there’s a little extra pressure on him, but as he starts to relax and just pitch he’s going to get better and better. We’re hoping he gets stronger toward the end of the year.”
Sidwell is committed to Stetson while fellow outfielder Cameron Montgomery is moving on to USF. Pitchers Jaylyn Whitehead (New Mexico), Alex Dorso (Lipscomb), Jake Senich (St. Petersburg College) and Nick Dearing (Embry Riddle) round out the list of collegiate talent thus far for the Titans.