The eighth continues to be the winning inning for the Hudson baseball team.
Hudson scored three runs in the eighth Thursday to defeat Aurora 4-1 in a Canton Division I regional semifinal at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium.
The Explorers three-run eighth comes a week after a five-run eighth in an 8-3 victory over Walsh Jesuit in a district final.
“It is better late than never,” Hudson coach Buddy Dice said with a smile.
Hudson will play Jackson in a regional final at 5 p.m. today ay Munson.
Hudson (26-4) scored three runs in the eighth with four walks, one hit batter and one hit. Senior Joey Cahill walked in junior Jake Stuursma, senior Kevin Zullo hit into a ground out that allowed senior Braden Wright to score and junior Jacob McKenzie hit a bunt single that brought in Joseph.
Hudson tied the score at 1-1 in the seventh courtesy of senior Nanak Saran, who started the inning with a single, took second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Jacob McKenzie and scored following an errant throw where he was caught between second and third base.
“We got back to Hudson baseball,” Saran said. “We stay in it and make the other team make the play. Thankfully, they threw it away. Coach held me up, kind of, and I went right by it and got the run. It was huge. The center fielder made one heck of a throw, but [the catcher] was a little bit up the line so I slid to the outside part and I got my hand in just in the nick of the time.”
Zullo pitched a complete-game to up his record to 6-1. The right-hander struck out nine.
“We played hard the whole game,” Zullo said. “The [Saran] run might have been a little bit lucky, but I think it really made up for the quality at bats we had all game. Nanak, Stuursma and [junior] Travis Wood put together quality at bats all game along.”
Dice was proud of his team’s resiliency.
“We have been there before,” Dice said. “Even down to the last out with Nanak at second base. He could’ve and should’ve been out, but we still got a run to continue. This feels pretty good.
“[Kevin] was outstanding. . . . He is a phenomenal pitcher and a great competitor.”
Aurora (20-9) took a 1-0 lead in the sixth after freshman Ben Stawicki reached via an error. Junior Logan Roliff pinch ran, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Carter Semancik and scored when junior Matt Carpenter delivered a two-out single.
”We practiced six straight days running our plays,” Aurora coach Tim Deering said. “We had the 21st out. We had him on a daylight pick play and Nanak came off the base and we had the opportunity to seal it and we had an error. We are built on defense and pitching.”
Zullo and Aurora sophomore lefty A.J. Kimes were efficient on the mound for a majority of the game. Sophomore Adam Long and Semancik pitched in relief of Kimes.