STERLING – The Comets used a pair of big innings to capture an 11-1, five-inning victory over Dakota in the first game of a nonconference doubleheader Saturday morning in Sterling.
The second game was played as more of a glorified scrimmage.
Dakota started the opener almost picture perfect, as its first two hitters reached base with singles to grab momentum. The Indians kept up the pressure, as Newman (14-8) couldn’t turn a double play on a grounder to shortstop, settling for one out and runners on the corners.
Trouble was avoided thanks to the Comets’ steadfast pitcher, Quincy Coomes, who proceeded to strike out the next two Dakota batters to get out of the jam.
“I always struggle pitching at home, going out there first,” said Coomes. “I like being able to watch my guys bat and get some runs in before I go out there. I struggled a little bit, but came back from it.”
The bottom half of the first was one of the big innings for the Comets, as they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs on five hits and a couple of errors.
Nate Olson drove in a pair of runs in the inning, and seniors Michael Ely and A.J. Sharp also had one each.
“We worked our way out of a pretty tough spot in the first,” Newman coach Tom Wilson said. “We scored five runs, and then we were complacent, and we didn’t hit the ball well. We have a solid lineup, and have been helping each other out all year. One game, some guys hit the ball well, the next game they don’t.
“But everyone picks each other up, so it’s nice having hitting 1 through 9.”
Coomes settled down in in the second, and set the Indians down in order. In the third, Dakota’s Drew Wenger led off with a single, and scored two batters later by Drew Zellmer to score the Indians’ lone run.
But Coomes responded again, this time getting a ground and a strikeout to get out of the inning and strand two runners.
“It’s alwasy nice to pitch with a lead,” said Coomes. “It lets you relax and kind of do your thing. I just remembered that lead that we had, and that our bats were going, so I relied on that.”
He also relied on his defense, which did not commit an error on the day.
“Quincy is smooth,” Wilson said. “Every game we can count on him, and we know what we will get out of him. We play good defense behind him, and he does have the ability to work himself out of jams.”
The Indians didn’t put up a fight from the plate in the final two frames, as they went down 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth. Coomes pitched the complete game, giving up the one earned run and four hits, while striking out six and walking only one batter.
The Comets put the game away in the fifth, once again exploding from the plate to more than doubled their run tally. It took only nine batters this time to score six runs, ending the game via the mercy rule.
Dillan Heffelfinger, Alex Buhler, and brothers Brandon and Alex Burke each had an RBI for the Comets. Junior Shayne Allen got the last hit of the day, as he drove in two runs to get his team to the 10-run lead they needed to end the game.
“If our lead hitters don’t hit, then our bottom hitters will hit, and then we will pour on the hits,” Allen said. “It’s really nice seeing our seven or nine hitter hitting just as well as everyone else on the team.
“We want to peak at regionals. We’re not playing our best ball, and haven’t played a perfect game yet. But we’re doing pretty well.”
Game 2 was a bit of a free-for-all, as Dakota said it had run out of piching for the week and, with an NUIC East game looming today, didn’t want to play a second varsity game. Everyone batted for both teams, and there were free substitutions on defense throughout the contest.
Newman 11, Dakota 1, 5 inn.
Star of the game: Quincy Coomes, Newman, 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 1 BB
Key performers: Shayne Allen, Newman, 2 RBIs, run; Nate Olson, Newman, 2 RBIs, sac bunt
Up next: Riverdale at Newman, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday