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HUDSON -- Aurora has produced a lot of postseason glory in recent years, and Aurora coach Michael Brancazio and Solon coach Damien Kopkas acknowledged the Division I district tournament at Hudson was one of the toughest in the state.
Having vanquished Hudson earlier in the day in a district semifinal, Brancazio knew his team had to take down the Comets, who reached the state semifinals last year, to win the district title. Mission accomplished.
The Greenmen claimed their fourth district title in five years thanks to a 4-3 win over the Comets. Aurora improved to 18-5 on the season and advanced to the Canton Division I regional at Thurman Munson Stadium, where it will face Mentor on May 25 at 2 p.m.
Solon finished its season with a record of 20-4.
Brancazio lauded his team getting through two tough days of baseball. "We've been hit with a lot the last two days," he said. "The guys have responded to adversity well. Give credit to Solon because they are good baseball team. Give credit to our guys as well."
"It's important that these guys remember one game is not going to define their season," Kopkas said. "We knew, if we wanted to win this district, we had to play hard in every inning. To me, this is the toughest district in the state."
Early on, the game was a pitcher's duel between Solon's Jeremy Friedman and Aurora's J.T. Rose.
Friedman struck out nine Greenmen in 4 1/3 innings, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 4 hits. However, Bracanzio told his players to go deep into the count against Friedman to try to up his pitch count.
It wasn't all good news for Aurora. In the bottom of the third inning, Solon shortstop Gabe Barson attempted to score on a single. A great throw from the outside allowed catcher Bubba Arslanian to tag Barson out at the plate.
However, Arslanian extended his arms to make the tag and knocked Barson over. The umpires ejected Arslanian because of contact to the head. "Arslanian just can't catch a break," Brancazio said. "I think the umpires made the right call."
Solon found the scoreboard first in the bottom of the fourth. Catcher Joe Bubonics doubled, went to third on an error and came home on a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Aurora did all of its damage in the top of the fifth.
The Blue brothers each walked, followed by an error off the bat of Evan Fromwiller to load the bases. Aurora then got back-to-back RBI singles from Will Hermanowski and Ben Stawicki to make it 2-1.
With the bases still loaded, designated hitter Joe Carpetta was hit by a pitch for an RBI. Then third baseman Brent Henderson hit a sacrifice fly to score Hermanowski and make it 4-1.
Solon answered with 2 runs in the bottom of the sixth. After walks to Barson and Anthony Zavarella, Aurora pulled Rose in favor of Michael Sapp.
Second baseman Mike Tsironis hit an RBI single and Zaverella came around to score when the leftfielder misplayed the ball.
However, Hermanowski redeemed himself on the next play. Rightfielder Casey Maniglia hit a fly ball to left and Tsironis broke for home. Hermanowski threw a perfect ball in from the outfield to catcher Jacob Blue to prevent the tying run.
Rose gave up 3 earned runs on 3 hits with 4 walks in four innings of work. Sapp picked up the save by pitching three scoreless innings.
Solon tried to rally with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as Ryan McCurry singled and Tsironis walked. However, Sapp got Maniglia to fly out to center to end the game.
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