TWINSBURG — After an extra day and a venue change, Aurora and Woodridge baseball finally got to play Wednesday in a Division II Euclid district semifinal contest.
The game turned out to be emblematic of both teams’ seasons.
For Woodridge, a stop-and-go start turned into success later on. For Aurora, missed chances frustrated the Greenmen.
The Bulldogs scored a 4-1 win over Aurora played at Dodge Field in Twinsburg.
Aurora finished the season at 9-12. Woodridge improved to 21-7 and advanced to the Division II district final at Euclid Thursday at 5 p.m. The second-seeded Bulldogs will play ninth-seeded Revere in the district final, as the Minutemen edged Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 2-1 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
Woodridge coach Dennis Dever said he just wanted his team to have fun, as the Bulldogs advanced to the district final for the first time since 2015.
"We’re competing for a district championship," Dever said. "This is something our kids will remember for the the rest of their lives. We played a lot of good defense tonight."
Aurora and Woodridge each had chances early on, but were unable to score.
"That’s a synopsis of our season: Missed opportunities," said Aurora coach Michael Brancazio. "Ultimately, a 9-12 season is not what we wanted and I’ll take full responsibility for that."
Both Woodridge starting pitcher Zane Patterson and Aurora’s Michael Sapp did a good job working out of jams early, as both teams had runners on third base with less than two outs but could not score.
Patterson (5-2) pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run on seven hits with four strikeouts.
"He’s the guy you want on the mound in big games," said Woodridge coach Dennis Dever of Patterson. "We knew we had our hands full today."
Patterson said he knew he wasn’t going to get a ton of strikeouts vs. the Greenmen.
"I left like I was locating my pitches pretty well," Patterson said. "I knew they were a pretty good hitting team. I just had to make sure I was focused and not freak so much when they had guys on base."
"Give that young man (Patterson) credit. He threw strikes out there," Brancazio said. "He’s not really flashy and wasn’t overpowering, but he located his pitches well."
Sapp (3-2) looked sharp early, but took the loss by allowing three earned on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
"I thought Michael threw the ball very well tonight," Brancazio said. "He earned the right to be in this game by being our most consistent pitcher this season."
Woodridge broke the deadlock in the the bottom of the fifth inning. Ty Mygrants led off with a single, which was followed by a sacrifice bunt. Patterson then smacked a bad-hop single to first to score Mygrants.
The Bulldogs then got an RBI double from catcher Brad Goodyear and an RBI single from Brandon Albright to make it 3-0.
In the sixth inning, Woodridge got an insurance run. Pinch hitter Jacob Lovelace singled and Brian Fitzsimmons laid down a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error allowed Lovelace to score and make it 4-0.
Aurora made things interesting in the top of the seventh. Carter Gerbrick led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout, followed by a walk by Jacob Loundon. Center fielder Drew McVay then singled to make it 4-1 and bring the tying run to the plate.
However, Patterson then struck out Aurora catcher Jacob Blue and picked off McVay at first base to end the game.
"As I told the guys, this game is easy if you do the little things," Brancazio said. "We had a game plan tonight, but we did not execute it."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_RPC