York, PA - Grant Myers didn't always enjoy inside fastballs. Just a year ago, the left-handed hitting first baseman struggled with such pitches.
He preferred to hit the baseball to the opposite field rather than pull it. A winter in the batting cages with his dad and Northeastern coach Don Kauffman addressed the issue, which came up twice Tuesday in the Bobcats' 5-1 win against Susquehannock (11-5, 9-2 YAIAA Division III).
The Bobcats (9-6, 4-5 Division II) held a 1-0 lead when Myers stepped to the plate at "Rock" Brenner Field at Mount Wolf. With a 2-0 count, Susquehannock starter Sammy Miller gave him that once-dreaded inside fastball, which Myers turned into a two-run double that bounced off the right fielder's glove at the wall.
"I've learned to hit inside pitches, and that's my main focus this year is to pull those pitches," said Myers, who did it again in the fourth inning.
In previous seasons, when Myers would get jammed, the junior said he would flare his hits to third base.
"Occasionally, I'd get a hit on it, but I wasn't happy with it," he said. "I was always taught, growing up, that middle away is where you want to hit it. I started doing that too much."
Myers now likes the inside fastball, as evidenced by a 2-for-3 day in which he had a hand in three Northeastern runs. A courtesy runner later scored for Myers, whose offensive output backed freshman Kody Reeser's effort on the mound.
Reeser's day almost started horrifically. He opened the top of the first by walking Susquehannock's leadoff hitter and yielding a bunt single. With two on and no outs, the freshman, making his third career start, struck out the side to escape unscathed.
"I was a little nervous at first because I thought this was going to be a tough start," said Reeser, who wound up striking out seven. "I just tried to focus as much as I could to get the three outs."
The bounce-back performance helped Reeser the rest of the way, he said. The Bobcats pitcher maintained a shutout until the fourth. The Warriors even loaded the bases before Reeser induced a soft flyout to second base. He remained in the game for one more inning, diving from the mound to stop a grounder up the middle and preserve what had become a stingy start.
Kauffman didn't remove Reeser until he gave up his sixth walk during the sixth inning, swapping him with senior Jesse Sargen from center field.
"He struggled a little bit with the strike zone, but he gave a good quality outing again," Kauffman said. "He's given us three good starts."
Reeser improved to 2-0 with the win. His only other start was a no-decision vs. Shippensburg, but this one came with Northeastern being the advantageous team. Not the other way around.
Early in the season, errors and missed opportunities cost the Bobcats. Those same factors set the tone in the first inning Tuesday. Susquehannock left 10 runners on base, starting with the two who reached base to open the game.
"It seemed like every time we had runners in scoring position and needed a hit, we didn't get it," Susquehannock coach Tim Hare said. "Too many miscues on defense. We had six miscues, and four of them came around to score."
Northeastern took its turn in the bottom of the first, getting Sargen and Trae Beyer aboard with no outs. Instead of stranding them, the Bobcats scored three times.
NORTHEASTERN 5, SUSQUEHANNOCK 1
Susquehannock 000 100 0 -- 1 6 3
Northeastern 300 110 x -- 5 5 0
Susquehannock, Sammy Miller and Collin Tattersall; Northeastern, Kody Reeser, Jesse Sargen (5) and Devin Blymire. SO-BB -- S, Miller 5-1; N, Reeser 7-6, Sargen 1-1. W -- Reeser. L -- Miller. 2B -- S, Miller; N, Grant Myers (2), Nick Yinger.