AMHERST — What a difference a day makes.
Just a scant 24 hours after they opened their Amherst Summer Classic with a 10-run-rule victory over Bay, the Amherst Comets fell 1-0 to the Elyria Pioneers on Wednesday night.
“Elyria is always tough, so we kind of expected a good game today and it was a good baseball game,” Amherst coach Matt Rositano said. “But like I told the guys, ‘If you don’t score, you can’t win.’ When you don’t score, everything is magnified.”
The Pioneers got everything they needed in their tourney opener from their Double-O combo of junior starter Hunter Olsen and senior reliever Hunter Osborne. Together they twirled a three-hit shutout while allowing no extra-base hits and a mere eight baserunners in all.
Osborne earned his first high school save with his two innings of one-hit ball.
“First off, it was very tough, when you face a team like that, that went to regionals last year,” Osborne said. “They’ve lost a few kids but when you have a strong program like them that doesn’t mean much.”
The closeness of the score added to Osborne’s anxiety.
“There’s always pressure” protecting a one-run lead, he said. “But I was able to control the tempo and calm myself down on the mound.”
“They’re the young guys coming up that we’re going to be counting on,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said of Olsen and Osborne. So it’s good to see them going against a high-quality opponent like that. Our thing we need to work on is first-pitch strikes and getting ahead, but other than that I was very pleased with both of them.”
Amherst had plenty of good pitching, as well. Senior starter Kyle Dalzell threw five shutout innings, allowing only four hits while striking out six.
But it wasn’t as if both starters were on cruise control. The Comets and Pioneers combined for 19 men left on base, so both pitching staffs had to work under duress and pitch through jams.
“I fell down in the count a lot,” Olsen said. “I’ve got to work on that. I’m not really big on the strikeouts. I like to get the ball into play. I prefer to get a ground ball and let my defense work. This was our first game together as a team and my first game against Amherst. I just wanted to throw first-pitch strikes.”
With the two Hunters holding sway, it was up to the Elyria offense to gather some opportunities. Shortstop Evan Engle (2-for-4) delivered, opening the sixth inning with a triple against Amherst reliever Luke Feakins. Engle then scored the lone run on Chris Willis’ sacrifice fly to right.
Cameron Brubaker also had two hits for Elyria and Connor Emch had two of Amherst’s three hits.
Both teams supported their pitchers with key defensive plays.
Engle was cut down at the plate in the third while trying to score from second on a Brubaker single to right. Comets right fielder Logan Kelling made a quick pick-up and threw a strike to first baseman Jacob Lezon, whose equally crisp relay allowed catcher Eric Ritter to apply the tag and keep the game a scoreless tie.
Ironically, it was an Engle error to open the bottom of the seventh that gave the Comets some hope, but it didn’t faze Osborne.
“Evan made the error at short and kind of got down on himself,” Osborne said. “And I was like, ‘Look at the scoreboard. We’re still up. We’ll get these three outs and we’re OK.’ My defense trusted me and I was able to rely on them.”
Both teams have Titans in their sights. Elyria plays Lorain tonight at home and the Comets host Lorain on Friday night.
- Amherst Summer Baseball Classic: Elyria pours on the offense in rain-shortened rout of Lorain
- High school baseball: Keystone beats Medina to remain perfect at Amherst Summer Classic
- High school baseball: Evan Engle nearly perfect as Elyria bashes Bay on way to Amherst Summer Classic semifinals
- High school baseball: Comets win Amherst Summer Classic
- H.S. Baseball: Amherst opens summer tourney with convincing win over Bay, led by sophomore pitcher Justin Hritsko