AMHERST — If they ever create an Amherst Baseball Summer Classic Hall of Fame, Eric Ritter made a case Wednesday night for being its first inductee.
Ritter had a two-run home run and a two-run double in a nine-run fourth inning to lead the Comets to a 12-2, six-inning win over Elyria in the opening game of the tournament for both teams.
Elyria went up 1-0 on a third-inning Colin Vargo sacrifice fly that scored Nate Taylor but an inning later Ritter took the lead back for Amherst with a line-drive shot down the left-field line that easily cleared the fence, also scoring Caleb McGee, who reached base on an error to lead off the inning.
“I was kinda frustrated with myself because I made a bad play the inning before,” Ritter said.
“I knew I needed to make up for it and I just saw the ball and swung.”
Amherst did a lot of swinging, and a lot of walking in the fourth inning.
The Comets sent 13 hitters to the plate and took advantage of four walks and a hit batter to go along with four hits to turn what had been a close game into a rout.
“One time through the lineup we only had one hit,” Amherst coach Matt Rositano said. “I reminded them they had to stay disciplined at the plate and have a good approach and you saw in the fourth inning we started doing that.”
Jason Monos drove in Luke Feakins and Aidan Johnson with a single and Josh Qualls had double in the inning.
“This is the first time I’ve seen all these guys in a game this summer and I like the improvement I’m seeing,” Rositano said. “Qualls looks like he got better and all of those sophomores that were up playing with us last spring, I’m expecting big things from them in the future.”
Justin Hritsko was in midseason form for the Comets on the mound, going five innings while allowing two runs on five hits to earn the win.
“Everyone’s been playing summer ball so I thought we’d come out strong tonight,” Hritsko said. “I felt really good on the mound. These games are good to get some of our younger guys, who didn’t get a lot of action last year, experience against varsity competition.”
Hritsko said he would be ready to pitch again Sunday should the Comets advance to the semifinals.
After losing 12 seniors to graduation after last season, Elyria coach Ed Piazza knew it might take some time for his young players to adjust to varsity competition.
“When I have all of my key returnees in the lineup we’re going to be OK but I want to see what these young guys can do,” Piazza said. “We did OK until we made that first mistake, then it was the merry-go-round we couldn’t get off of. These guys aren’t mentally strong yet so we can’t overcome mistakes.”
Piazza said he was missing some of his players who are still playing in tournaments with their summer teams. He’s hoping the Pioneers can rebound to advance to the semifinals because he would have his entire lineup available Sunday.
Evan Engle started for the Pioneers and pitched three strong innings before allowing the home run to Ritter.
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