WEST JORDAN — The Olympus Titans and Murray Spartans have a long rivalry in many sports. The two teams added another interesting chapter Saturday afternoon in a consolation bracket game of the 4A state baseball tournament.
Harrison Creer scattered eight hits and Olympus took advantage of three Murray errors to edge the Spartans 2-1 at Salt Lake Community College’s Cate Field.
It was a huge win for Creer, who was battered by the Spartans in a 12-2 loss on April 18. He wasn’t particularly overpowering, but mixed his pitches well and kept Murray scoreless this time until the sixth inning. He struck out four, walked two and benefited from several fine plays by his defense.
“He (Creer) really came on and stepped up when we needed it,” said Olympus coach Brent Burton. “These games are always tight and decided by just one or two plays every time.”
Murray (20-6) won two of three region games between the teams during the regular season, but Olympus (19-8) advanced to play another rival, Skyline, in a consolation-round game Monday at 1:30 p.m. at Orem’s Brent Brown Ballpark.
The Spartans, however, had their chances and pitcher Jake Hardman had Olympus’ attention from the mound.
Hardman limited Olympus to just five hits and also showed an impressive pick-off move that took two Titans off the bases.
“We knew about his move. They (the Spartans) have had it for years,” said Burton, shaking his head.
The Titans’ Nicholas Ward admitted he had seen it, too, but it still caught him flat-footed after he had opened the second inning with a single.
Later, in the fourth inning, with the game still scoreless and A.J. Affleck on first base, Ward singled again. Hardman appeared he might catch Ward again, but this time his throw went wide. The ball nicked Ward on the elbow and caromed into right field, sending Affleck home with the game’s first run.
Olympus added another run in the sixth when Gabe Singer tripled and Hayden Curtis added an RBI double. Hardman then almost picked off Curtis, but couldn’t decide whether to throw the ball, and it rolled harmlessly along the field’s artificial surface.
Curtis could not advance and embarrassment was avoided as Murray rallied on a walk to Kam Myrberg and consecutive singles by Alex Hannay, Easton Brinton and Stockton Madsen. Curtis prevented a tie by making a nice play on a grounder hit by Jared Jones.
“We had to deal with the errors and come back and make some plays,” said Murray coach Marce Wilson. “We don’t make a lot of errors, but when we do, they’re costly.”
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high school sports articles for the Deseret News.