August 1, 2014

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District baseball: Amherst resident Jon Laird leads St. Edward past Comets in district final

Amherst’s Kody Bledsoe slides back safely into first base on Tuesday vs. St. Edward. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Amherst’s Kody Bledsoe slides back safely into first base on Tuesday vs. St. Edward. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — The final score was much different, but there was an identical subplot.

The afternoon after Avon Lake resident Michael Cuva pitched St. Edward past Avon Lake in the Division I district semifinal, Amherst resident Jon Laird shut down Amherst, earning the Eagles a district title and trip to the Bowling Green regional tournament with an 11-1 win over the Comets on Tuesday at The Pipe Yard.

Cuva beat the Shoremen 2-1 in the semifinal.

Laird allowed just two hits and one unearned run. With the wind blowing in, he made the Comets hit the ball in the air — 11 of the 15 outs never touched the ground.

Facing guys he grew up playing with and against, Laird kept his composure.

“I didn’t want to get too hyped up about it, I just wanted to throw strikes and keep it low in the zone,” he said. “I tried to keep it low but I was pumped up a little bit, a little excited, and some of them went high. I wanted to work through that and ended up doing it.

“I was ready to go. I’m a competitor and love playing against kids I know. I just want to win. I wanted to attack them with my fastball and throw strikes.”

St. Edward jumped on the Comets early, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first. They chased Amherst starter Shane Derricotte with a run in the second before adding three in the third and three in the fourth off sophomore reliever Nick DeJesus.

“We pitch to contact and aren’t going to overpower anybody,” Amherst coach Matt Rositano said. “Give credit to St. Ed’s. They put together good at-bats, fouled tough pitches off and got the hits when they needed them.”

The Eagles pounded out 10 hits in four innings. Center fielder Kyle Hegedus led the hit parade with three hits, including a double, while driving in four runs. North Ridgeville resident Todd Price added a pair of hits and drove in a run.

“We take the same approach every game, every at-bat,” Eagles coach Joe Kasl said. “We just want to get a good pitch to hit. If it’s there take a hack at it and if it isn’t take it for a ball. It’s a simple approach, but we didn’t change anything for this game.”

The Comets, who ended the season 19-9, scored their only run in the top of the fifth. Aleks Crisler walked, went to second on a throwing error and scored on Kody Bledsoe’s single to left.

It was too little, too late for Amherst, which left eight runners on base.

“Every inning we had baserunners, we were just never able to get a big hit,” Rositano said. “Especially in those early innings, if we push a couple of runs across and maybe put some pressure on them … or in that first inning take a lead, it might change the complexion of the game. We just weren’t able to do that.”

Kasl thought Laird, his senior right-hander, did exactly what he was asked to do.

“It was a great game for Jon,” Kasl said. “He let a few walks go, but he located his pitches pretty well deep in counts and made them put the ball in play when we needed it and our fielders did a great job behind him.”

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or macsportstalk@gmail.com.

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