CANTON: Aurora hit the ball all over spacious Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium in a 7-5 Canton Division I regional semifinal victory Thursday over North Canton Hoover.
The Greenmen (27-4) totaled 13 hits and sent Vikings outfielders running with six of them going for extra bases.
“I haven’t seen a ball carry like that all year,” Aurora coach Tim Deering said. “The ball was jumping.”
Outfielders from both teams seemed to have problems adjusting to the newfound territory as singles were turned into doubles and doubles into triples as the result of misplayed routes.
“This park is definitely bigger than normal,” Deering said. “Obviously, it’s the gaps that get you here. Our gaps are 345 and this gap is probably 380 and it’s 410 in dead center. We’re 375 in dead center in our park. When you get out in these bigger fields here, you just try to make sure your outfielders are in position.”
The Greenmen struck early, scoring in the first inning on an RBI single by senior Tyler Thomas.
The Vikings (22-8) answered in the following inning when junior Alex Binnie tripled and was later knocked in by Matt Machamer.
In the next three innings, the Greenmen started to pile it on, totaling five runs on eight hits with three doubles and two triples.
“Our boys come out and grind,” Deering said. “We knew that Hoover is a great team. We came down here and watched them play GlenOak and win 17-4. We knew their bats were going to be live. Jake Czerwinski came out and threw probably one of the best games I’ve seen out of a senior that’s kind of hurt, still. He came out and bulldogged it.”
Czerwinski, Aurora’s starting pitcher and cleanup hitter, played the game with a broken bone in his right foot that he suffered during football this season. His fastball is clocking in 5-8 mph slower than last year, but he still has found ways to be effective.
Czerwinski earned the win to improve to 7-1. He threw six innings, giving up four runs on six hits with two walks.
Adam Berger came in to work the seventh, earning his third save of the season.
Czerwinski didn’t strike any batters out, but his defense picked up the slack.
Aurora committed no errors and sophomore third basemen Nick Ely made a fantastic barehanded play on a bunt by Vikings leadoff hitter Joe Jackson that saved what could have been a potential fifth-inning rally, as the next two Vikings hitters reached on walks.
“If he gets on there, all the sudden Jake’s got to work a little bit harder,” Deering said. “It shuts down their bunt game, too. So it’s twofold for us.”
Ely also hit two opposite-field doubles, scoring once and driving a run in.
Leadoff hitter Kirk Janoch led the Greenmen at the plate with two singles, a triple, a stolen base, two runs and an RBI.
Aurora will play Mentor (23-5) in a regional final at 5 p.m. today. The winner will advance to the state tournament.
Aurora has reached a regional final in baseball for the first time since becoming a Division I program.
The 24 wins is also a program high, breaking last year’s record of 19.
Berger will pitch for the Greenmen today, looking to improve to 9-1.
Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps.