AURORA — Boasting some big bats in their lineup, Cook County used them to get out to a 10-2 lead Thursday and hold off the Fighting Pike Senior Babe Ruth baseball team, 10-7.
Aurora trailed 10-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh and used a single, a 2-RBI double and a 2-run error to get back in the game. However, the comeback fell just short.
“We came on at the end, which has kind of been our M.O. this year,’’ Aurora head coach Dave Hillman said. “We always come on late. It’s one of those things that we try to play a little bit better toward the ends of games.’’
The home team had a few errors in the contest, but they played a solid game overall one day after falling to Esko, 11-1.
Hillman gave credit to Cook County. “Their pitchers threw well,’’ while the team hit the ball hard and played solid defense.
“They’ve got some great bats in their lineup that’s for sure. They got the base hits — and timely ones too.’’
While the visitors were getting hits when it counted, Aurora couldn’t do that even though they outhit Cook County.
That was quite evident in the home half of the fifth when Aurora loaded up the bases for Austin Michels with just one out. Michels proceeded to tip a line shot toward the third baseman, who snagged the ball out of midair and doubled up another Fighting Pike runner.
“That was a great play by him too,’’ Hillman said. The third baseman gradually moved into position after Michels fouled off several pitchers, he added.
“If it gets by him, we probably score two for sure and have guys on second and third.’’
Instead, Aurora was held off the board and lost the opportunity to close the 10-2 gap.
On the other hand, Cook County was hitting from the start. The visitors put up two runs in the first, five in the fourth, and three in the fifth to secure the win.
Aurora continued to battle back throughout the contest, starting in the second. The Pike were down 2-0 at the time before Dakota Kruse smacked a double to the left centerfield fence, advanced to third and later scored on an errant throw to make it 2-1 after two innings.
The home team scored again in the third when Brayden Leffel singled to left, Gavin Constantine walked and Michels connected for an RBI single to left centerfield.
Cook County scored the next eight unanswered runs, though, to seemingly put the game out of reach heading to the bottom of the sixth.
Aurora added one more run as Easton Soular singled to right, Kalub Corbett doubled to left centerfield and Hunter Levanders’ sacrifice fly made it 10-3.
Corbett and the Pike held Cook County scoreless in the seventh before putting together a 4-run at-bat themselves.
Ty Laugen’s walk and Constantine’s single to left had two ducks on the pond before Corbett stepped to the plate. The relief pitcher proceeded to help his own cause with a 2-run double to centerfield to make it 10-5.
Levander followed that up by knocking a single to left, which the fielder let slip under his glove. Two runs scored and Aurora was down 10-7. However, the Pike couldn’t push any more runs across and fell just short.
On the hill, Noah Shuck started and went five innings, while Corbett came on in relief to pitch for the first time this season.
“He pitched great for his first time out,’’ according to Hillman, who said his first inning was rough before he settled down.
The coach said the Senior Babe Ruth playoffs begin Saturday in Ely and Aurora. Games will be played at noon, 2:30 and 5 p.m. The matchups for Saturday’s and Sunday’s games have yet to be announced.
After this weekend’s games, the final four will be held in Ely next Thursday, the semifinals will be played in Aurora in a week from Saturday, and the finals will be held in Ely in a week from Sunday.