HUDSON — The rivalry between Hudson and Stow-Munroe Falls has many flash points, but the baseball diamond has always been one of the hottest.
When the Bulldogs visited The Ballpark at Hudson Tuesday, two teams looking to continue hot starts to the season clashed.
Hudson was coming off a big win Monday, as senior pitcher Matthew Aukerman pitched a perfect game in the Explorers’ 1-0 win at Cuyahoga Falls.
Meanwhile, Stow looked to break a three-game skid, as the Bulldogs dropped a 3-2 loss in eight innings at Twinsburg in walk-off fashion Monday.
In the end Tuesday, Hudson was able to pull away with a five-run sixth inning, turning a close game into a 9-2 win for the Explorers. Hudson improved to 9-0, 4-0 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Stow dropped to 5-6-1, 2-3 in the conference.
Hudson coach Buddy Dice said the game was closer than the score indicated.
"I think it was close," Dice said. "They scored two on us first, but we were able to come back. It’s still a close game until that sixth inning. I think we were lucky to get out of here with a win.
"I think that’s a good, young team they’ve got over there," Dice added. "In this league, anybody can beat anybody."
After suffering its fourth straight loss vs. top level competition, Stow coach Aaron DeBord had a simple message for his team.
"Stay positive," DeBord said. "There’s a lot of things we did right tonight. We can’t let the things we did wrong hold us back.
"Our guys are competing. We are learning on the job right now."
One thing Stow did right was jump on the Explorers early. In the top of the first inning, left fielder Aidan Vober led off with an infield single and second baseman Brandon Beck reached base on a dropped ball.
After a pitcher Patrick Ciccantelli hit into a fielder’s choice and Colin Harris walked, third baseman Zach Meyerson hit a double just inside the right field line to score two runs.
Hudson cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first inning. Right fielder Blake Hartline singled and catcher Grant Gedeon reached on an error, followed by an RBI double to right by first baseman Brendan Palmer.
Palmer had a big night, as he gave Hudson the lead in the bottom of the third inning.
With two outs, Palmer belted a two-run double to center field to make it 3-2 Hudson. He then made it 4-2 when he scored all the way from second base on a wild pitch.
That run support would be enough for Hudson’s pitching staff, although Dice lifted starting pitcher Nolan O’Connell after just 3 1/3 innings of work. O’Connell allowed two unearned runs on three hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
Dice’s decision worked perfectly, however, as Parker Tallman picked up the win (3-0), allowing no runs and one hit with five strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings of work. Joe Whitman stuck out the side in the seventh inning for Hudson.
"We have a lot of quality pitchers," Dice said. "Nolan did not have his best stuff, so when he walked a couple of guys, it was just time. Parker did a great job.
Ciccantelli took the loss (1-2), despite pitching well enough to win, according to DeBord. Ciccantelli allowed four runs (three earned) off six hits with four strikeouts in five innings of work.
"If we could have made one or two plays behind Pat, it would have been a whole different game." DeBord said.
The trouble for Stow came in the sixth inning, as three errors, a walk and three stolen bases contributed to a tough appearance for reliever Kaleb Poston, who did not retire a batter.
Hudson scored on a pair of throwing errors and got a two-run double from pinch hitter Joe Caspar to chase Poston from the mound.
Kyle DiGiammarino stopped the bleeding, but Hudson got its fifth run of the inning off an RBI double from Gedeon.
"I still like where we are at this point," Dice said after the win.
The victory for the Explorers sets up a battle of undefeated teams Thursday at The Ballpark at Hudson vs. Twinsburg. First place in the National Conference will be on the line at 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Stow will look to snap its losing streak when it hosts rival Cuyahoga Falls Thursday at 4:30 p.m.