High school baseball is usually about hitting. Astronomical batting averages that soar into the .500-plus range are common. Teams slug their way to wins with scores that resemble those found in football. Earlier this season, Mesa Ridge defeated Palmer 23-10 and, remember, they were collecting those scores one at a time.
Then there’s the 2018 Pine Creek team, which boasts six quality pitchers. The Eagles can hit. That’s for sure, but that’s everyday high school stuff.
Having the luxury of six pitchers is found once in a coaching career.
Glenn Milhauser, class of 1975 at Mitchell High School, has coached high school baseball in Colorado Springs in four different decades. He served as head coach of state runner-ups at Rampart and Air Academy. He’s 157-47 in his decade at Pine Creek.
He’s never, he said, been blessed with a pitching staff of this caliber.
“Best pitching staff I’ve ever had,” he said in the late-afternoon sunshine at Pine Creek’s field, where the Eagles play Rampart Thursday at 4 p.m.
“Our fifth or sixth pitcher would be the ace at most schools.”
Milhauser says he can hand the ball to Justin Olson, Jay Onken, Riley Cornelio, Parker Gregory, Kyle Thompson or Kyle Moran and feel confident. So far this season, the Eagles have relied on Olson, Onken, Cornelio and Gregory, with the foursome pitching all but six innings, but Milhauser has been impressed by Thompson and Moran when they compete against the Eagles best hitters at practice.
The staff has led the Eagles to a 9-2 record, but the pitching depth will increase in importance in the state playoffs when games become more frequent and the strain on pitching staff multiplies.
“All of these pitchers are really good,” Olson said. “When we’re going to our fifth or sixth pitchers, other teams will be going to position players who haven’t pitched before, and we’re going to take advantage of that.”
It’s not just pitching. The Eagles are hitting .349 as a team with 12 home runs. (Olson has seven of those home runs.) Pine Creek has outscored opponents, 91-19, which has fueled the team’s high ambitions.
Milhauser has yet to win a state title, or play for a state title, at Pine Creek. He and his players won’t come right out and say it, but winning everything is the plan for 2018.
“Coach knows he’s leading a great team,” Cornelio said.
Olson has signed to play for Kentucky next season. He hopes to exit his high school career with a title.
“This is a special team, and we really have a chance,” he said. “Everyone works together so well. The batting lineup is crazy. We got so much pop, and we know how to hit and pitch. We just need to make sure we’re working together. If we do that, we’re really going to go super far.”