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Knights drop big game at Hudson

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: May 3, 2017 12:00 AM
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HUDSON -- A number of things can still happen.

Nonetheless, the Nordonia baseball team lost its grip on top of the Suburban League National Conference standings.

Host Hudson won its sixth straight game after posting an 8-5 victory over the Knights April 28 at The Ballpark at Hudson.

With the win, the Explorers, who lost to Nordonia 2-1 earlier in the season in Macedonia, improved to 9-3 in the National Conference.

The Knights fell to 8-3 in the conference.

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Hudson has two conference games with Brecksville-Broadview Heights left and Nordonia has a conference game against Stow-Munroe Falls and two conference contests with Wadsworth remaining.

"We lost our cushion," Knights head coach Drew Hoisington said. "We knew Hudson was going to be a tough one. They're always strong. We came out flat."

"This was a big win," Explorers head coach Buddy Dice said. "We did what we needed to do this week. We put ourselves in a good position."

Hudson (14-4) scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 5-0 lead.

In the first, left fielder Nolan Laughlin hit a single to center and came home on a run-scoring single by shortstop Hayden Knox, who hit a shallow fly ball that got past the Nordonia right fielder after a dive attempt.

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The Explorers kept coming in the second.

Second baseman Spencer McClure led off the inning with the first of his two singles of the game past the third-base line and a stolen base.

Knights' right-hander Chris Nolan got the next batter, but then Hudson caused some havoc with its well-known small-ball tactics.

Catcher Grant Gedeon reached on a bunt when no one was covering first base and third baseman Johnny Colesi made it 1-0 on a safety squeeze to score McClure.

Center fielder Matt Oscarson followed with a single to right to load the bases and then Laughlin made it 2-0 after drawing a walk. Knox, who finished with three hits and also reached base on a walk, drove in his second and third runs of the game to make it 5-0 with a double to deep right.

"You can't give a team, especially a team like Hudson, extra outs," Hoisington said. "They had three bunts in a row in the second inning. We didn't pitch bad. They [the Explorers] found their way into the holes."

Nordonia got two back in the third after the first two batters failed to reach base.

Shortstop Trey Crockett got things started with a walk and then moved to third on a hard line-drive single off Knox's glove.

Second baseman Robby Levak drove in both runs with a bloop double to left. Levak finished with two hits on the evening.

But Hudson came right back in the bottom of the third.

Colesi had a run-scoring bloop single to make it 6-2.

Nonetheless, the Knights kept chipping away.

Designated hitter Peter Toula cut the Explorers' advantage to 6-3 when he smacked a run-scoring single in the third. Hudson scored another run in the inning on a throwing error.

The Explorers took advantage of two walks and a wild pitch to make it 8-3 in the fifth.

However, Nordonia (12-7) didn't go away.

With the rain coming down rather heavily, the Knights took advantage of a slippery ball and scored two runs in the sixth. Hudson issued four walks in the inning.

Crockett drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk and Nordonia got another run on a ground out by relief pitcher Dylan Hiles.

The Knights got a runner on base in the seventh, but Hudson right-hander Johnny Merrill got the final two outs to close the deal. It was Merrill's second save of the season.

Starting right-hander Troy Brown got the win on the mound for the Explorers to improve to 3-2 in 2017.

Brown struck out eight and walked three batters before handing the ball to left-hander Aiden Samuel in the sixth.

Samuel issued two walks, but he was able to get the final two batters of the inning to end the threat.

Nolan took the loss for the Knights, who threw 68 pitches in two innings of work. He dropped to 3-1 on the season.

Left-hander Nicholas Kovacs, submarine right-hander Mason Mimms and Hiles, a left-hander, also pitched for Nordonia.

Hudson had 11 hits and no errors and the Knights finished with seven hits and one error.

The Explorers had two runners picked off, including a runner at third base. Both teams stranded eight runners.

Nordonia also defeated conference rival Twinsburg 5-4 in nine innings April 26 on the road.

Sammy Spagnola got the win on the mound and Toula smacked a run-scoring double in the bottom of the ninth.

The host Knights lost to the Tigers 4-3 April 25. Twinsburg scored all of its runs in the fifth.

Nordonia earned a 10-9 win over conference foe Brecksville-Broadview Heights April 24 on the road. The contest previously began April 19 and was completed April 24. The Bees had a 5-0 lead at one point.

The Knights were scheduled to visit Wadsworth May 2. Results were not available at press time.

Nordonia is set to entertain Wadsworth May 3 and Stow May 4. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

"That's what I love about this league," Hoisington said. "You can never feel too comfortable. We're going to continue to roll with it."

The Knights received the fourth seed at the Hudson Division I sectional-district tournament. The Knights earned a first-round bye and are scheduled to host the Twinsburg-Cleveland John Hay winner in a sectional title game May 12 at 4:30 p.m.

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