Aurora claims another state title for Big 8 Conference
Houn’ Dawgs take Class 4 crown for 2nd straight season
Without a doubt, the Aurora High School baseball team proved that it was the best team in Class 4 with a 2-0 win over St. Mary’s on Saturday.
This season, Cassville fell 5-0 to the state champions and saw firsthand how the never-say-die mantra of the Houn’ Dawgs worked.
Aurora’s Austin Erickson threw a no-hitter in the championship game to earn the victory. In last year’s state title game, it was also Erickson, who threw 2.1 innings, who picked up the win.
Aurora and its pitcher retired 18 of the first 19 batters, with the lone blemish being a third-inning, two-out walk.
Despite allowing base traffic, St. Mary’s pitcher Bryce Grossius kept the Houn’ Dawgs from getting the big hit.
It took Aurora until the fifth inning before the Dawgs could break the scoreless tie. Ryan Cline flipped a ball to center and took second after a collision between two St. Mary’s players. Matthew Miller stepped up next and hit a ball to the warning track, but Cline was able to take third base on the fly out. Cline would then score on a pass ball to give Aurora a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, Aurora would get another insurance run as Cody Childress singled up the middle to bring Wyatt Sparks home.
In the bottom of the seventh, the first St. Mary’s runner reached on an error at first. After a foul out to first base, Erickson hit a batter to put two on base. Erickson induced a groundout to get the second out before hitting another batter with a curve ball to load the bases with two out.
Erickson then struck out the final batter to end the game.
The Houn’ Dawg relied upon defense and pitching all season and finished the year 6-0 in one-run-games.
The pitching staff finished the season with a state record of 382 strikeouts, blowing away the mark of 319, which they set last season.
Sparks led the way with 143 punch outs and Erickson was second on the team with 97. The staff finished the year with a team ERA of .963.