ELYRIA — Hunter Olsen was just the right tonic for Elyria.
The Pioneers stumbled in their opener at Amherst on Wednesday, losing 12-2 with 10 walks a big factor, but Olsen got Elyria back on track at George Day Field on Thursday night.
Olsen, who will be a three-year lettermen senior when the high school season begins next spring, gave the Pioneers five solid innings in a 9-3 victory over Firelands.
“The first inning was a little shaky and so was the second,” said Olsen, who scattered four hits and struck out four. “I just found my groove and was able to command pitches.”
Olsen could rare back and fire the fastball for strikes whenever he needed. Firelands stranded eight runners and Elyria’s third baseman — Gage Barbee — grabbed a hard line shot off the bat of Kyle Ransom in the third inning and turned it into a double play by tagging Austin Schuler out at third.
After the Amherst debacle, Elyria’s head coach Ed Piazza warned his team it had better be ready.
“We didn’t tear it up (Wednesday),” Piazza said. “I told them they had to be focused. Welcome to the big leagues after (Wednesday). I think it showed in that first inning. The approach with the batters was a lot better, and defensively. Hunter’s always been a pitch-to-contact pitcher who throws strikes. If you make the plays, you’ll be fine.”
Elyria did make three errors – all coming in the second inning – but it only cost a run. Meanwhile, the Pioneers jumped on young, lefty starter Carter Smith for five runs on four hits, three walks and two errors in the bottom of the first.
Austin O’Quinn started things with a double to left-center and Colin Vargo walked. Steven Larkins, who had three hits and two RBIs, drilled a single to center to score O’Quinn and Barbee followed with a bloop single to right to score. Max Peyton singled and when the right fielder misplayed the ball, another run scored. Another two walks forced in a run and finished Smith’s day. Hunter Cahl’s sacrifice fly scored the fifth run.
“Coach has been on us about our approaches at the plate, finding the pitch you like and being able to drive that,” Larkins said.
Larkins took the instruction to heart. He doubled and drove in a run in the second inning and tripled in the sixth. Nick Schuster doubled and scored on Larkins’ double in the second and Daniel Super drove in two with a two-out single to right in the fifth.
Firelands got extra-base hits from Kyle Ransom and Aaron Urban. Zach Hales had a pair of singles while Evan Zider, Logan Howington, Grant Price and incoming freshman Cory Ransom had the other hits. Howington, in relief of Smith, pitched five innings, striking out four.
“We had a lot of guys in that game that don’t have a lot of experience,” said Firelands coach Dan Ransom. “When you got a guy like Hunter (Olsen), he was really efficient. We’re looking in the third inning and (our pitchers) have about 65 pitches and he’s thrown like 16. It’s kind of tough to be behind that eight ball.”
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