Ravenna baseball coach Guy Tontimonia says that junior right fielder Brandon Hairston is the most improved player on his team.
Tuesday afternoon against Waterloo, Hairston backed up his coach's words by slamming a pair of two-run home runs to lead the Ravens to an 11-6 victory over the Vikings at City Park.
Hairston's first homer was a towering clout over the 295-foot sign in left field that gave the Ravens (1-0) a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Ravenna first basemen Jeff Pyles (three hits) provided an encore by also belting a blast off Waterloo starter and loser Jason Crider that went well over the left-field fence, giving Ravenna a 4-1 advantage.
Hairston (three hits) came back in the fourth and sent another Crider delivery to deep left for his second round-tripper of the afternoon as the lead reached 11-6.
"Brandon is so improved. He didn't get to play much last year," said Tontimonia. "He has come on strong; he listens and does a good job."
Hairston's second homer came on the heels of Waterloo's second botched fielding play in two innings.
Jeff Kirby's two-out single just inside the third-base line had given the Ravens an 8-6 lead and Ravenna still had runners at the corners with Hairston at the plate.
The runner at first _ Kirby _ then broke for second, and Waterloo tried to make a play on him. However, with the ball in the hands of the Vikings' second baseman, Chris Thole headed for the plate and beat the throw home to make the score 9-6.
One inning earlier the Vikings made an even more critical defensive error, one that would eventually cost them three runs.
Summers led off the last half of the third with a single and, one batter later, wound up at third with one out. Justin Wise followed with a chopper to third base. Summers broke for the plate on contact and got himself caught in a rundown.
Waterloo (1-1) didn't execute it properly though, and Summers slid home safely after forcing several throws.
"We work on first-and-third (situations) and we got away with it today a couple times," said Tontimonia. "He (Summers) was supposed to get caught in the rundown, but he got such a good jump on the pitcher ..."
That tally made the score 5-2 and Ravenna tacked on two more runs in the frame to go up 7-2.
The Vikings bounced right back against Summers in the top of the fourth, parlaying an error, a ground-rule double, a pair of walks and two hit batters into four runs to narrow the gap to 7-6.
Summers collected himself, however, and pitched scoreless ball over the last two innings before giving way to Jason Graves at the start of the seventh inning.
"We got beat tonight. They hit the ball and we made two little blunders that cost us six runs," said Waterloo coach Doug Mori. "That kid (Summers) got stronger as the game went on. His fastball was definitely better."
"He pitched well first time out. When we had pulled him he had only thrown about 89 pitches," said Tontimonia. "Except for that one inning he pitched (well)."
Erick Leigh had a first-inning solo home run to pace the Waterloo attack. Eric Mori had two hits and Bo Cooksey added two runs batted in.
Summers and Kirby collected two hits apiece for the Ravens.
Ravenna 11, Waterloo 6
(At City Park)
WATERLOO 101 400 0 _ 6 7 3
RAVENNA 043 400 X _ 11 12 2
Jason Crider, Adam Herendeen (5) & Adam Schultz, Jim Conley (5). Luke Summers, Jason Graves (7) & Chris Thole.
WP _ Summers (1-0); LP _ Crider (0-1).