ELYRIA — Evan Engle was just about perfect Saturday afternoon at George Day Field.
The Pioneers’ junior faced the minimum number of hitters (15) in tossing a one-hit, five-inning gem as the Pioneers run-ruled Bay 11-0 in Amherst Summer Classic action.
Engle struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone, while catcher Max Peyton threw out Jack Sutherland, who had the one hit, trying to steal in the second inning.
“Just throwing strikes,” Engle said of his pitching success. “My fastball was working and my change-up kept them off guard.”
Engle needed just 58 pitches for the win. He worked out of only one full-count all day and that ended with a strikeout.
“I felt good having my offense behind me and my defense behind me,” Engle said. “I pitch more to contact. I just wanted to pitch to contact and throw strikes.”
There wasn’t much contact from the Bay hitters. The Rockets put only six balls in play — three in the air and three ground balls, including Sutherland’s hit.
“That kid threw six innings all summer,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said of Engle. “We wanted to stretch him out (Saturday). Only 60 pitches all day — lot of strikes. All week it’s been good. I’ve been happy with all four pitchers who have thrown this week.”
Pitching has been the story of the tournament for Elyria, which has allowed just one run in winning all three games it’s played.
The Pioneers will host Amherst today in a semifinal at noon, hoping to advance to the finals at Amherst at 3:30. Elyria has outscored its opponents 26-1. Bay finished 0-3 in the round-robin format.
“When he hits his spots, he’s always been a strike-thrower,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said of Engle. “That’s why I can’t believe he didn’t throw more in the summer. For us, he’s going to be in our rotation. We’ve always known … last year he was over 70 percent strikes. He doesn’t need a lot of warm-up. We can bring him in from shortstop and throw him in there. He’ll throw strikes.”
The Pioneers also swung the bats well, scoring three times in the first inning to set the tone as Cameron Brubaker and Chris Willis each had RBI doubles. Engle drove in one in the second on a ground ball with Austin O’Quinn at third base.
Hunter Osborne knocked in O’Quinn in the fourth with a long double to center and Elyria finished the game with five runs in the fifth. Steven Hastings and Kevin Reddinger had RBI hits and Caden Dargo’s two-run single brought on the 10-run mercy rule.
Osborne had a double and a single to lead the Pioneers’ 11-hit attack.
No wonder Piazza’s a proud and happy coach.
“We have a double lead-off guy,” Piazza said. “(Hunter) Olsen batting ninth or if it’s Reddinger – ’cause he usually bats leadoff with Osborne and then in that middle it’s just all been contact two through seven. Even the guys that came in (Saturday) — they’re up there swinging.”
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