by Michael Leonard
Hudson -- Playing five games in a three-day stretch would be a tough assignment for a professional baseball team.
Thanks to all the rain last week, that's just what the Hudson baseball team had to deal with recently.
The Explorers started the stretch with a 4-0 win May 1 at home against Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division foe Mayfield.
Hudson followed that win and defeated Valley Division foe Solon 5-1 May 2 at home.
The Explorers then hosted the Cancer Awareness Classic. They opened with a 1-0 loss to Mentor under the lights May 2.
On May 3, Hudson saw Aurora rally from a 6-1 deficit to win 9-7. However, Hudson then closed the Classic May 3 with a 14-4 win over Chardon in six innings.
Hudson's record moved to 16-3 overall and 6-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division.
The Explorers' pitching depth was on display over the weekend.
Against Mayfield, Kevin Zullo (3-1) scattered six hits to get the complete-game shutout. He outdueled Mayfield ace John Schreiber, even though Mayfield finished with a 6-4 edge in hits.
Against Solon, it was Nanak Saran's turn to dominate. He allowed just one Comet hit as he improved to 5-0 on the season.
Saran beat Solon ace Nate Alstadt, who limited Hudson to six hits.
Against Mentor, Ian Swan also pitched a masterful game, allowing just four hits and one run.
The problem was Swan (1-1) took the loss as Mentor starter Evan Lovick threw a no-hitter against the Explorers.
Hudson head coach Buddy Dice said he wasn't too worried with the loss to Aurora, given the quick turnaround his team endured.
"Aurora's a good hitting team," Dice said. "They've got a bunch of guys back from that state final four squad. I think we made some base-running mistakes that didn't seem like they were big at the time, but really cost us.
"I thought we hit the ball well. I thought we played good defense. Jared Hoffman gave us a chance to win. We had some guys that don't normally pitch for us get a chance to pitch because we're playing four games in two days."
The Explorers were able to jump on Aurora starter Adam Long (3-2) early, as a sacrifice fly from Joey Cahill and a run-scoring ground out from Zullo made it 2-0 after one inning.
Aurora got an unearned run in the top of the second, but Hudson answered with one in the bottom of the second. Explorers' second baseman Jake McKenzie scored after hitting a leadoff double.
Hudson seemed to take command of the game with three runs in the bottom of the third.
After Dan Joseph singled and Cahill walked, Zullo hit a run-scoring single and designated hitter Travis Wood smashed a run-scoring double.
Wood had a big day at the plate, going 4-of-4 with two doubles.
Zullo would score on a run-scoring ground out to make it 6-1.
However, Aurora's comeback began in the fourth with a rarity at The Ballpark at Hudson: A home run over the left field fence.
Greenman catcher Bubba Arslanian launched a two-run homer -- his first varsity home run -- with a bit of help from the wind.
Aurora also got a run-scoring single in the fourth from Matt Carpenter and an run-scoring ground out from Arslanian in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-5.
Hoffman left the game with lead, but Aurora got two more runs off Cahill in the sixth.
An infield single by Carpenter was followed by back-to-back run-scoring doubles from Andy Weber and Nick Ely to make it 7-6.
Cahill (0-1) took the loss in relief.
Aurora added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh without getting a hit.
After two walks and a hit batsman, Carpenter drew a bases-loaded walk. Weber then beat the relay throw on a double play attempt for a run-scoring fielder's choice.
The game was then delayed for 45 minutes due to lightning.
When play resumed, Kirk Janoch took the mound for Aurora. He got the save, but Hudson made things interesting.
With two outs, Wood hit his second double of the day and Miller walked. McKenzie then hit a fly ball to center field which was dropped, allowing Wood to score.
With the tying runs on second and third base, pinch hitter Andrew Karpinski had a chance to extend the game, but he flew out to second base to end it.
The Explorers rebounded against Chardon, banging out 16 hits in the win.
Hudson started quickly again, scoring nine runs in the first three innings.
Although the Hilltoppers put up four runs in the fourth inning, there would be no comeback this time as the Explorers scored two runs in the fourth and single runs in the fifth an sixth to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
KJ Tench picked up the win for Hudson.
Cahill led the Explorers' offense with a home run and two runs batted in, while Joseph added a triple, a single and four RBIs.
Hudson was scheduled to travel to Valley Division foes Solon May 5 and Cuyahoga Falls May 6, but results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to host Falls May 7 at 4:30 p.m. and NOC rival Shaker Heights May 9 at 7 p.m.
They are scheduled to visit North Olmsted May 10 at 1:30 p.m.