AMHERST — Pitching depth is a luxury Amherst hopes it can enjoy this season.
Three Comets — Anthony Berrios, Justin Hritsko and Cameron Karnik — combined for a one-hit shutout Saturday in a 10-0 win over Elyria in the season opener for both teams.
“All three of our pitchers played great,” Amherst coach Matt Rositano said. “It’s tough to play in this weather. It’s cold, it’s windy and it’s tough to get a handle on the ball. We’re in the same boat as a lot of teams in Northeast Ohio. We really haven’t been outside a lot. We’ve only had one practice on our field. We’re just trying to get our feet wet and get our bearings on the field.”
Berrios was stellar for the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners — one on a walk and the other on an error in the first inning. He never faced more than four batters in an inning and struck out three.
The Pioneers broke through in the fourth when Hritsko came into the game. Catcher Tristan Arno recorded Elyria’s only hit, sending a grounder up the middle. Michael Knapp looked like he grounded into a double play, but an Amherst error gave the Pioneers runners on first and second with one out.
Hritsko got the next two batters to fly out. He ran into a little trouble again in the fifth, this time with runners on second and third with two outs, but he got Devan Nail to pop out to center after a tough at-bat.
Karnik came in for the sixth and retired the only three batters he faced.
“We were throwing strikes,” Berrios said. “We only had (two walks) total in the game. Our coach just wanted us to use our strong defense, throw strikes and let our defense work.”
Offensively, Amherst only had five hits, but mistakes killed Elyria. The Pioneers’ four pitchers combined for 13 walks and the defense committed six errors.
Elyria was only down 3-0 after three — all of Amherst’s runs were unearned — but in the fourth the Comets tacked on three more. Evan Shawver drove in Karnik with a sacrifice fly to left, Jacob Lezon sent a shot up the middle for an RBI double and Hunter Cassidy drew a bases-loaded walk.
Amherst closed the door an inning early when all seven batters managed to reach base safely — the first five on three walks and two errors. Karnik and Kyle Mantin delivered back-to-back hits for the clinching runs.
“I was worried about the cold and the pitching today,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said. “Thursday night’s scrimmage we had 15 walks. I think that big first inning where we didn’t turn that double play, that just killed us. If we throw strikes, we’re going to be in the game. We lost six pitchers from last year, these guys are all young and I knew the experience was something to worry about in the beginning. But we just have to throw strikes. It’s just a confidence thing for these guys. They just have to throw strikes and let our defense play.”