Baseball: Aurora Central falls in 11 innings to Walther Lutheran
There was an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel in Aurora on Tuesday as Aurora Central’s Matt Miller and Walther Lutheran southpaw Joe Lomnicki went head-to-head in a Suburban Christian Conference action.
The visiting Broncos took advantage of a crucial error in the top of the 11th and nipped the Chargers, 1-0.
Neither team had a hit until Aurora Central’s Matt Czerak tripled over the left fielder Derrick Clemmons with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Lomnicki would fan the next two hitters to strand Czerak at third base.
“It was a great game, just an awesome game,” Chargers coach Eric Fulara said. “It was going to come down to who made the first mistake and who hit the ball to put you in a situation to make that mistake.”
That key mistake came after Shaq Cockrell led off the top of the 11th with a walk against reliever Mike Fidler. A successful sacrifice bunt from Luke Barajaz was thrown wildly to first base to put runners on the corners. The Chargers were nearly able to escape unscathed, but with two outs Zach Schumaker hit an RBI infield single to Czerak at shortstop, whose throw pulled first baseman Kevin Bond off the bag.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play because I was 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 at that point,” Schumaker said. “I just stayed with it, put my head down and ran. I did what I had to do.”
Miller and Lomnicki simply did whatever they could to win the game.
Miller finally exited after completing 10 innings. The two-time all-conference selection only surrendered a pair of hits and stuck out 12. He walked three, one intentional, and threw 123 pitches.
“I was feeling strong all game but when the 10th inning came around I was getting a little tired,” he said. “It was a fun game and they just came through even though we had some chances. Baseball is like that and we’ll hopefully come back Thursday with a win.”
Lomnicki was slightly more impressive, throwing 139 pitches to complete the game. The only hits he gave up were the triple to Czerak in the fifth and a double to Andrew Salapatek in the sixth. He walked three and fanned 13.
“I knew when I was warming up that I had all my stuff,” he said. “It was definitely a game where you had to stay focused because with one pitch they could split a gap and put a guy in scoring position. I just stayed focused and kept pitching.”
Walter Lutheran (10-9, 5-3) loaded the bases in the 10th before standout Chris Stevens hit a bullet to Czerak to end the threat.
Aurora Central (7-10, 0-3-1) had a runner on third with two outs in the eighth but couldn’t bring him home. In the bottom of the 11th, Josh Sitterly and Czerak both reached on walks, but Lomnicki fanned Jake McCarthy to end the game.
“Half our problem is we helped the kid out by swinging at pitches over our eyes and out of the zone,” Fulara said. “We’re a good team and we’re going to get there. We’re still young, and I hate using that line, but we’re going through a lot of growing pains and still trying to figure out how to win.”