The O’Dea baseball team beat Bainbridge 5-2 Thursday to win back-to-back Metro league championships for the first time in school history.
Bainbridge was the league’s No. 1 seed in the tournament and hadn’t lost a game since March. During that 17-game winning streak, the Spartans beat O’Dea, which gave the Irish extra motivation to get a win Thursday.
“Losses are there for a reason,” O’Dea head coach Michael Doyle said. “You have to use them in the right way so you can gain something from it.”
Chris Hollabaugh pitched a complete game for the Irish, giving up just three hits.
O’Dea’s Jacob Hirsh scored Rex Stephan on a first-inning single, but Bainbridge answered in the second, scoring its only two runs of the game.
Hollabaugh allowed two hits in that first inning but then responded by recording 10 straight outs.
Hirsh led off the third inning with a solo home run to get back a lead the Irish wouldn’t relinquish.
“Momentum is huge in high school,” Hirsh said. “And when you have the momentum, you’re probably going to win the game. You could see that happening tonight.”
Having won the 3A state championship last year, O’Dea knows what it takes to be successful in the postseason.
“There’s a sense of hunger,” Doyle said. “The guys know what it’s like. They want to get back. They want to keep experiencing that.”
There are 12 seniors on O’Dea’s team, but Hirsh is a junior. This is his first year on the varsity team, and heading into the season he wasn’t sure what his role would be.
He’s relished his opportunity to start, and finished the title game 3-for-3.
“It feels amazing,” Hirsh said of being a contributor. “The older guys deserve this so much.”
Both teams were guaranteed bids to regionals heading into Thursday’s championship, so Bainbridge head coach Simon Pollack was able to take positives away from the loss.
If anything, seeing O’Dea at this point in the season puts into perspective just how tough the competition at state will be.
“At this point in time, you have to believe that teams are at the pinnacle of their performance level,” Pollack said. “It’s good to come out and see a team that is obviously clicking on all cylinders to show you just how focused you need to be on every pitch … in order to come out with a W in these games.”