LORAIN — The games were very different, but Elyria remained hot by sweeping a doubleheader from Lorain in non-conference action Friday at The Pipe Yard.
The Pioneers won the first game 5-3 before dominating the nightcap 14-4 in five innings.
Junior Chris Willis worked 2 2⁄3 innings of scoreless relief in the opener to pick up his second win of the season.
In the bottom of the fifth, with Lorain leading 3-2, Elyria coach Ed Piazza brought Willis in to relieve starter Michael Knapp. The Titans (6-4) had runners on first and second with one out and pinch hitter Tre’von Morgan at the plate.
Willis struck out Morgan looking on three pitches for the second out, but Lorain’s best hitter, second baseman Willie Cruz, was up next.
Cruz hit a grounder into the hole between second and third. Sophomore shortstop Evan Engle dived far to his left to keep the ball in the infield and prevent Blake Bartlome, who was on second base, from scoring.
David Coleman grounded out to third to end the threat.
“With a sophomore you never really know what you’re going to get, but he was aggressive and made a great play,” Piazza said of Engle. “Him keeping the ball in the infield was huge for us at that point.”
Elyria (8-3) tied the game in the top of the sixth when Tristan Arno walked and came around to score on Zach Schuster’s bloop single down the right-field line. The Pioneers broke the tie in the top of the seventh on Carter Hyde’s RBI groundout. Devan Nail then scored after reaching on a fielder’s choice and speeding around on a three-base throwing error.
Willis allowed just one hit and struck out four.
“I knew I had a good defense behind me, so I just tried to throw strikes because I knew if they hit it the defense was going to make the plays behind me,” Willis said. “I was throwing my curveball more than my fastball and it was working, so I stuck with it.”
Piazza has a lot of confidence in Willis.
“The thing with Chris, when he comes in he doesn’t think about what’s going on,” Piazza said. “He just throws strikes and that’s what we ask him to do. That’s what he’s done all year. This was his second win and they’ve both come in relief.
“We know we can go to him and know he’s going to throw strikes.”
Hunter Osborne and Arno each had a pair of hits for the Pioneers in the first game. Osborne added a pair of stolen bases, scored a run and had an outfield assist.
Julius Harrington was effective on the mound for Lorain, throwing a complete game. Only three of Elyria’s five runs were earned.
“Julius did a great job for us today,” Lorain coach Brad Ternes said. “He kept us in the game. When your starter can give you seven innings you really can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.”
Cruz had two hits and drove in a pair for the Titans in the opener.
In the second game, Elyria batted around in the second and third innings. Michael Benetto went all five innings, striking out five and surrendering four hits to improve to 2-0.
Nail, a Kent State recruit, had a pair of hits, scored three runs and drove in two, while Knapp and Noah France added two hits each.
Cameron Brubaker scored three runs and stole three bases.
“I like our team’s depth,” Piazza said. “We know we can put multiple guys in there and we have competition everywhere. I trust everybody. We put a different lineup in for the second game and it produced.”
Elyria pounded out 11 hits and took advantage of four Lorain errors.
“Elyria played well today,” Ternes said. “They capitalized on the mistakes we made. We had some opportunities, too, but couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it.”
Benetto used a simple approach on the mound.
“Just wanted to keep throwing strikes and let my defense work,” he said. “We have a lot of confidence and I think things are turning around for this program. When you are pitching with a big lead, the most important thing is to not give it up.
“You keep throwing strikes and keep getting out of innings.”
Cruz had a hit and drove in a run for Lorain in the nightcap.
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.