At Tuesday's baseball game at Free State Field, several Firebird students had fun throwing water balloons at each other in the breezy conditions.
But on the field, their Firebird counterparts clearly were frustrated as Olathe North nearly earned a run-rule victory. The Eagles easily squashed the Firebirds' three-run rally in the fourth and pelted Free State, 13-4.
"It's just one of those games that happens at times in baseball," said FSHS coach Mike Hill, whose team lost for the second straight game and fell to 3-2. "If it's a one-time deal, we'll be OK. If it snowballs into something different, then we'll have to deal with it."
Things snowballed for Free State pitcher Max Ellenbecker in the third as the Eagles touched the senior for seven runs on eight hits. All but one of the shots were singles, but Dan Wise's triple plated two.
"It was pretty rough," Ellenbecker said. "A lot of those hits just seemed to find their way through the holes in the infield, but it wasn't pretty."
Had the Firebirds not rallied in the fourth, the game would have been called because of the run rule. But the Firebirds' three-run burst quickly was negated by O-North, which scored three runs in the last three innings.
O-North senior Dustin Moomau mowed down nine Firebirds from the mound and went 3-for-4 at the plate.
"We kept competing, which I was pleased about," said Hill, whose squad will take on rival Lawrence High on Thursday at FSHS. "I thought we actually swung the bats pretty well considering that we were facing one of the top pitchers in the state.
"But when you fall that far behind with that quality of a pitcher on the mound, you make it really hard on yourselves."
Still, Hill said it was far too early in the season to worry.
"We have no reason to push the panic button," he said. "We have a good ball club that had a bad day. And Olathe North is a really good ball club.
"When you play a good team like we do almost every time in the Sunflower League and you get behind that much, it's going to be tough to dig your way out. But if it's a one-time deal, we'll be fine."