Preppers’ defense, second inning surge guide them past Explorers, 6-2 – News-Herald

Photos from University vs. Hudson baseball, May 25, 2023. (Tim Phillis – For The News-Herald)

Patience was the name of the game for University as the Preppers were in a hole early against Hudson in a Division I district final at Euclid.

But in the bottom of the second, they had a pair of bases-loaded walks to take the lead, and then the bats came to life. Four more runs were driven in and that sealed the deal early in the contest.

The Preppers went on to win, 6-2, and advanced to the regional round for the second year in a row. They will square off against Hoban on June 1 at Oberlin College.

The Explorers struck first with a ground ball by Chris Maurer that drove in a run. But after that, Aaron Moss locked in and went to work.

The sophomore went 6 1/3 innings and struck out five but his biggest challenge was waiting through the bottom of the second to get back on the mound. University batted around the order with Joey Zigman, Deacon Nelson and Ryan Pattison driving in runs.

PHOTOS: University vs. Hudson baseball, May 25, 2023

While University went a time through the lineup, Moss wasn’t concerned with how he would throw once they got back into the field.

“I stayed pretty warm. We had a lot of energy in the dugout,” Moss said. “I was up and moving so it wasn’t too much of a factor. But it really helped get those runs early.”

University’s defense also stepped up. Against a Hudson team that likes to play small ball, the infield got the job done. Ben Elliott led the charge with his play at short, including a nice scoop and throw to first base to get a runner in the top of the fifth.

“Defense is always important and to get those easier outs when you can,” Elliott said. “You want to help the pitcher keep his count down and it’s awesome to see us come together and playing our best baseball defensively. We’re all coming together at the best time possible.”

The left side of the infield for University features three players who are predominantly shortstops but have adjusted to defending the bags. Both Nelson and Moss flank Elliott on the hot corner, and have been able to pick the brain of the senior.

He is more than happy to give them an assist when needed.

The trio have developed a bond over the season and know that they are ready for the challenge of the regional round.

“They’re two of my favorite guys on the team,” Elliot said. “They can field like no other. It’s nice to have that solid infield locked down. No matter who is but where in the field, we’re going to make plays when it matters.”

Even though the Preppers weren’t able to get another run across in the contest, the bats continued to threaten as they racked up 14 hits. But it was more than enough in early support.

It allowed for Moss to change his approach slightly as he knew he didn’t have to force the Hudson batters to chase. Rather, he relied on the defense behind him for the backup.

“We’ve made minimal errors all season and I knew I didn’t need to overpower from the mound,” Moss said. “They’re a good hitting team but I knew even if I pitched to contact, we were going to be good.”

Hudson was only able to get one back in the sixth as Kade Keown drove one in on a ground ball that went to a fielder’s choice.


University 6, Hudson 2

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