MILLEDGEVILLE – Newman pitcher Quincy Coomes’ left foot kept disappearing into a hole.
The junior’s landing foot was swallowed up by a large divot on the mound at Millwheel Park in a game against host Milledgeville. The score was tight, and with the gusting wind, the right-hander couldn’t quite focus.
“It’s always tough to pitch when the game is close,” Coomes said, “and that mound is especially tough to pitch from, too.”
Luckily for Coomes, the Comets’ bats were able to take one thing off his mind, as an offensive explosion in the fifth inning helped propel them to a 10-1 win over the Missles on Wednesday afternoon.
After struggling to generate offense in the early portion of the season, the Comets’ bats came to life. They got production from everywhere in the lineup, and it was the bottom of the order that sparked an eight-run fifth inning that broke a 1-1 tie since the first inning.
Nine-hole hitter A.J. Sharp roped a single to lead off the inning. The next two batters reached, and all of a sudden, Newman had the bases loaded with no outs and the heart of the order coming to bat.
“It’s always good when the bottom of the order can come through,” Comets leadoff hitter Dillan Heffelfinger said. “When everyone is rolling, it gets contagious.”
Newman was happy to catch the bug, as it sent 12 batters to the plate in the top half of the fifth. Twice the Comets loaded the bases, and they produced runs each time. Alex Buhler singled home the first two runs of the inning to break the 1-1 tie.
The Comets (3-4) kept at it, and a Trevor Bolin walk was sandwiched between two outs to keep the inning alive, before Heffelfinger singled home two more with the bases loaded.
“This was a good one for us,” Comets coach Tom Wilson said. “We just needed to start hitting the baseball more consistently.
“The approach at the plate was to not swing at the first pitch, and lay off curveballs. We just got into a rhythm.”
With the lead, Coomes attacked batters in the bottom half of the fifth and got the side out in order. He was lifted after the inning, and earned the win after allowing just one hit and one run, both coming in the first inning.
Milledgeville (4-1) was handed its first loss of the season, and was dealt another blow during the game.
Missles starting pitcher Harrison Schmidt’s first varsity start ended quickly after pitching just two innings. The sophomore left the game after feeling soreness in his right pitching elbow.
Milledgeville coach Kyle Knutti believes that the pain is nothing serious, and pulled Schmidt as a precaution.
“For it to happen in two innings isn’t very good,” Knutti said. “With this cold [weather], we wanted to be careful.”
Jordan Harris took over and pitched into the fifth, but was chased after allowing six runs – three earned – in the big inning for Newman.
“When something bad happens, it snowballs, and we couldn’t move past it,” Knutti said. “If we’re going to move forward and be the team we’re capable of, we’re going to have to get rid of that.”
Newman 10, Milledgeville 1
Star of game: Quincy Coomes, Newman, 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 K.
Key performers: Dillan Heffelfinger, Newman, 2 hits, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 SB; A.J. Sharp, Newman, 2 H, 2R.
Up next: Dakota at Milledgeville, 4 p.m. today; Fulton at Newman, 4:30 p.m. today