AMHERST — The Comets had some inside information and a definitive approach.
Facing North Ridgeville ace left-hander Mike Martin, the Comets jumped on the first fastball they saw all game. Amherst had 11 hits and nine runs (four earned) against the hard-throwing senior in moving to 3-0 overall with a 12-4 victory Wednesday.
The Comets had the inside scoop on Martin from summer league ball.
“Justin (Mott), one of our catchers, actually caught for this kid and he told us to jump on the first fastball,” center fielder Rees Rua said. “He told us he has good junk, so the first fastball you see you should go ahead and attack it. So that’s what we did.”
Comets hitters took a cut at the first fastball in the strike zone from Martin 11 times and ended up with four hits, three foul balls, two groundouts, a popout and a sacrifice bunt.
“After that first inning, in the huddle before we went out to hit for the second inning, we told the guys his fastball looked straight and it didn’t look like he was getting his off-speed stuff over for a strike,” Comets coach Matt Rositano said. “We told them to lay off that and the first good fastball they saw to rip into that.”
Amherst scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first when Mott picked on a Martin fastball that had too much of the plate, driving it into the left-center-field gap to drive in Kody Bledsoe and Alex Walts. The lead grew to 3-0 in the second on Rua’s sacrifice fly.
The Rangers (1-1) came back to tie the game with three runs in the top of the third.
Tyler Arnold singled with one out and stole second. Logan Armaro followed with a single to center that moved Arnold to third. After Martin walked to load the bases, Matt Feierabend drove in a run with a single to shallow center.
Amherst sophomore starting pitcher Nick DeJesus appeared to have worked out of trouble when he induced a double-play ball to Zack Bires at second base. Bires got the flip to Mott, the shortstop, in plenty of time, but Mott’s throw went wide, allowing two runs to score.
Rua’s two-run double in the bottom of the fourth capped a three-run rally that gave the Comets a 6-3 lead. The Rangers scored one in the top of the fifth, but Mott slammed the door with a pair of scoreless innings in relief.
Amherst broke open the game with six runs in the top of the sixth.
DeJesus, who made his first varsity start, impressed Rositano. He allowed six hits and just a pair of earned runs in 4⅓ innings.
“For a first varsity start against a very good team I thought he had a fantastic outing,” Rositano said. “It would have been nice to get him through the fifth, but he rolled groundballs, he threw strikes and he was in command. For a sophomore in his first varsity start to show that much poise was very encouraging.”
He also liked what he saw from Rua at the top of the lineup. The senior had a pair of hits in four at-bats, including a double, and drove in three while scoring a pair of runs.
“Rees switch-hits, and this was the first time this year that he’s batted from the right side,” Rositano said. “He’s good from both sides and is going to be a really solid guy for us in that leadoff spot.”
North Ridgeville coach Matt Ponting thought Martin’s issues came when he got behind in the count.
“In our two games we haven’t been getting ahead in the count,” he said. “Then we’ve been predictable pitching from behind. (Amherst) hit the ball really well today. When they got those mistakes they made us pay for it.
“Defensively we’ve been pretty clean in both games. We’ve turned three double plays in two games and our outfielders are getting the ball to the right spots. We didn’t beat ourselves … we made them beat us. They came through and had the clutch hits. That’s what it came down to.”
Feierabend led the Rangers’ offense with two hits and one RBI. Nathan Colbert added an RBI single.
Six Comets had multiple hits, led by Jordan Williams’ two doubles.
“We have a really good lineup, top to bottom,” Rositano said. “I think that showed today. We had 17 hits yesterday and 15 hits today. When you hit the ball like that you’re going to put up some runs.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.