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Diamond Report

Amherst Baseball Summer Classic: Amherst pounds Elyria to complete dominant run to tourney title

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    Amherst's Eric Ritter tips his helmet as he approaches home plate after hitting one of his two two-run home runs Sunday in a 9-1 win over Elyria in the Amherst Baseball Summer Classic championship game at Amherst High School.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst's Josh Qualls tags out Elyria's Nate Taylor at second base during the Amherst Baseball Summer Classic championship game Sunday at Amherst High School.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst's Justin Hritsko makes a pitch during Sunday's 9-1 win over Elyria. Hritsko allowed just one run over six innings while striking out six and walking one.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria's Michael Knapp makes a pitch Sunday.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria shortstop Evan Engle makes a throw to first base Sunday.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Elyria center fielder Steven Larkins makes a catch.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst's Eric Ritter is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run. Ritter hit a pair of home runs Sunday and three in the tournament.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst shortstop Josh Qualls dives but can't come up with a ball hit up the middle.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Amherst third baseman Graham Solak throws to first base.

    Andrew Dolph / Chronicle-Telegram ---

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AMHERST — Eric Ritter and his Amherst teammates are probably ready to bypass Homecoming, Christmas and the chance to possibly watch the Cleveland Browns in the postseason for the first time in their memory and skip ahead to the start of the 2020 baseball season.

This weekend in the Amherst Baseball Summer Classic the Comets looked like a team ready to defend its Division I district title.

Ritter belted two two-run home runs and starting pitcher Justin Hritsko held Elyria to just one unearned run over six innings Sunday as Amherst completed its romp through the Summer Classic with a 9-1 win in the championship game.

Amherst went undefeated in the Classic, winning its five games by a combined score of 65-8.

“I told the guys you can’t let the success we’ve had this week become stale in the fall,” Comets coach Matt Rositano said.

“We’ve got to work hard in the fall and winter and keep working hard in the preseason, then maybe this will carry over into next season.”

In Ritter’s first at-bat he pulled a ball down the left-field line for his first home run of the game, giving the Comets a 2-0 lead. In his final at-bat he crushed a pitch to the power alley in left-center as part of Amherst’s five-run sixth inning.

Ritter hit three home runs in the Summer Classic, all coming against Elyria.

“I’m seeing the ball pretty well right now,” Ritter said. “It’s looking pretty big coming toward me. It’s not just me though, the whole team is seeing the ball well. We strung together some hits and scored a bunch of runs.”

Hritsko got a lot of run support but he really didn’t need it. After allowing back-to-back singles to Gage Barbee and Max Peyton to start the second inning and seeing Barbee score on a throwing error, Hritsko settled down to allow only four baserunners over the next four innings.

In two starts in the Classic, both coming against Elyria, Hritsko allowed three runs, two of which were unearned, in 11 innings.

“I felt really good coming into the game,” Hritsko said. “Then Eric’s home run in the first inning got us all pumped up. All weekend we pitched really well. We had a lot of kids who didn’t get a chance to pitch much last season and we got to see what they could do.”

“This tournament is fun, it’s a great learning tool and it’s great for team bonding.” Hritsko said.

Earlier in the day, Amherst played its way into the finals with a 14-4 win over North Ridgeville.

The Pioneers needed a big outing from pitcher Hunter Olsen to lead them to a 6-1 win over Keystone in their semifinal.

Elyria finished the Classic with a 3-2 record, both losses coming against Amherst.

“Early on we were throwing strikes and making the routine plays,” Elyria coach Ed Piazza said. “When you stop making those plays against a good team like Amherst it comes back to haunt you. We’ve got eight months before we play another game so we’ve got to light a fire under them and learn from this. Overall, I’m pretty happy because we overcame that tough first game and the younger guys see what they need to work on.”

The Summer Classic had six Lorain County teams, plus Bay and Lakewood, participating this season in what has become a staple on the local summer baseball calendar.

“The coaches for all eight teams were excited to get their guys together,” Rositano said. “Win or lose it’s a great experience for the kids that maybe haven’t played a lot of varsity and the guys who are coming back to play some games together.”

Contact Todd Shapiro at (440) 329-7135 or ctsports@chronicle.com.


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