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AURORA -- Postseason wins don't come easy, so like any other high school baseball head coach, Aurora's Michael Brancazio didn't hesitate to be happy after his club opened sectional tournament play with a 4-2 win over Shaker Heights.
Aurora was voted the second seed in the Hudson Division I district tournament, with Solon at No. 1.
After a first round bye, Suburban League champion Aurora hosted a sectional final game May 12 and got past Shaker (6-11). "It felt good after the win," said the Greenmen skipper.
"Shaker beat some quality teams this year, and since we faced them in a rain-shortened game [Aurora was up big] they have improved so much and were a different team. That's the beauty of playoff baseball -- you play one game at a time."
After scheduled non-league games May 16 and 17 against Strongsville and Orange, the Greenmen (16-3) will tackle third-seeded Hudson on May 18 at 7 p.m. at the Ballpark at Hudson.
"We have to beat Hudson and go from there," said Brancazio. "It will be tough."
Brancazio likes his club's pitching depth, which comes into play as the winner is slated to play the next day (May 19) at 4:30 p.m. against either Solon and Twinsburg.
Shaker's offense was held to just 3 hits by Aurora junior righthanders Zach Elsawy and Chase Coady.
Elsawy earned the win, allowing only two runs in 6 innings, with 5 strickouts and 2 walks. The win raised his record to 3-1 with a 1.38 earned run average. Coady (2-0, 2.17 ERA) earned the save.
"Zach did a great job. He was injured in the off-season, and we did not know if he'd pitch [this year]," explained Brancazio. "I think this win got his feet wet in the postseason and after some reflection, this is really a culmination of his hard work."
Aurora's offense didn't strike big against Shaker despite 11 hits. "Early on, we faced a pitcher who had a cutter that he was throwing on the outside, and he wasn't throwing it hard," noted the coach.
"We then stayed back a bit and went to the right side and our approach was tremendous," as Aurora plated 2 runs in the fifth inning to break open a 1-1 game.
Junior shortstop Evan Fromwiller had a strong game, going 3 for 4 with one RBI, a double, a stolen base and one run scored. While Aurora had 2 errors, Fromwiller played errorless ball.
"Evan had an outstanding game. At shortstop, we stress to make all of the routine plays, and he did that," said the mentor. "Both Evan and [junior third baseman] Brent Henderson each had 3 hits and their defensive efforts on the left side were outstanding."
Henderson was 3 for 3 on offense, while senior Bubba Arslanian, junior Joe Capretta and freshman Will Carpenter each had one RBI. Capretta had a single and a run, Arslanian had a single and Carpenter had a sacrifice RBI.
Senior Jon Blue had a single and a run scored, junior Drew McVay had a single and junior Jacob Blue had a sacrifice.
Other seniors who will play key roles in the postseason are first baseman Ben Stawicki, Jaret Rose, Dominic Tyburski and pitcher Connor Bizjak.
Meanwhile, junior Michael Sapp moved to 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA this year when the Greenmen topped Western Reserve Academy 10-0 last week.
Sapp pitched 4 innings and had 5 strikeouts. He earned the shutout along with Bizjak. Jacob Blue had 4 RBI with a 3 for 4 effort, a pair of doubles and 2 runs. Henderson had 2 RBI with a 2 for 3 showing, 2 runs and a double.
Arslanian went 2 for 3 with one RBI, a run and a steal, while junior Will Hermanowski had a hit and a run and Jon Blue had 2 runs, one RBI and a double.