AMHERST — Early offense and consistent pitching kept Amherst undefeated in its own summer baseball tournament Friday.
The Comets grabbed the lead in the second inning then put the game away with five runs in the third in an 8-1 win over Firelands to improve to 2-0 in the Amherst Baseball Summer Classic.
Firelands bowed out of the tournament with a 1-2 record.
The Falcons grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second but Graham Solak erased that in the bottom of the inning, sending an Aaron Urban pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run home run that gave the Comets the lead for good.
Not that they knew that would be the case. So for good measure, Amherst sent 11 batters to the plate in the third and scored five more runs.
Alden Steele started the inning off with a single and the momentum began to build immediately. With one out, Jason Monos and Josh Qualls had back-to-back hits to drive in a run each to make it 4-1.
Then with two outs, the next five batters reached base safely on three hits and two walks.
“Offensively, it’s all confidence,” Solak said. “If you know you’re going to up there and get a hit, odds are you will. I just wanted to catch barrel on my hit. If you catch barrel good things are going to happen.”
Brayden Willbond was in control on the mound for the Comets, pitching a solid five innings before handing the ball to Steele for the final two innings.
Willbond, who gave up two hits and the one run, faced little resistance in — with the exception of the second inning when Firelands shortstop Evan Zider drove in Logan Howington on a ground ball.
“I just look at my teammates and they calm me down during those high-pressure moments,” Willbond said. “I took a deep breath and cooled down for a bit and threw my curveball and that thing was laying pretty well. Every once in a while, I would have a good fastball and I would hit my spot.”
Amherst coach Matt Rositano liked the way Willbond got better as the game went on.
“I think early he was a little hyped up,” Rositano said. “It’s Amherst and Firelands, they’re pitching against their friends. He settled in and he pitched himself out of a couple of jams.”
Firelands has struggled with starting pitching in its last two games. Urban started OK but was tripped up in the third inning.
“We’re not so much worried with what our pitchers are doing at the moment, but we talked to our pitchers,” Firelands coach Dan Ransom said. “We’ve got some things to figure out, definitely. We’ve got some holes that need to be filled and some roles that need to be adjusted.”
Amherst hosts Lakewood today 1 p.m.
“One thing that we’re trying to harp on is that this week it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Rositano said. “We just want to come out and play good, hard Amherst baseball, score some runs, pitch well and play some good defense behind our pitchers. It’s always good to see different teams but Lakewood being a conference opponent, we’ll be familiar for sure.”
“We’re going to play it like how we play every game,” Solak said. “It’s Lakewood. We’re going to have a lot of confidence going into the game. If we play like how we played today, we should have no problem.”
Errors plagued the Falcons throughout the tournament, including multiple errors in the third inning Friday.
“Defensively we’ve got to tidy that up for sure,” Ransom said. “We had guys out there today and out there yesterday that haven’t got a lot of experience anywhere let alone against Elyria or Amherst.”
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