Updated Mon, Jul 30, 2012 12:26 pm
Updated Mon, Jul 30, 2012 12:26 pm
The Copperheads found themselves in a pitcher’s duel in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, but Southern Ohio got the edge over the Lima Locos in a 5-0 victory.
The Cheads had a big inning in the fifth, scoring three runs off of some explosive hits. After two quick outs, Ben Otto hit a fly ball into right field in what seemed to be a sure out to end the inning.
However, Chris McGowan dropped the ball and allowed Otto to reach second base.
Joe Sturino wasted no time bringing Otto in, smacking a double into centerfield and extending their lead from one to two runs.
Matt Borgschulte hit one even harder in the next at bat, shooting one over the centerfielder’s head for a triple.
Borgschulte showed a lot of hustle running to third, just beating out the tag from Victor Barron. It would pay off on the next at bat from Blaise Salter, who doubled and brought Borgschulte in.
The Copperheads finished the inning scoring three runs and took a 4-0 lead.
“I thought I was safe,” Borgschulte said on the close play. “I never felt the tag and was wondering why they all started running off the field.”
“We adjusted at the plate,” said Sturino. “We were more aggressive on fastballs. In the beginning we watched a lot of first pitch fastballs go over the plate.”
Back in the second inning, the Copperheads found a way to score off of Lima ace Zach Botjer. Dan Schmidt doubled to right field to start the inning and give the Cheads a good scoring opportunity.
Ben Netzel laid down a sacrifice bunt to try to move Schmidt to third, but got an even better result. Botjer fielded the ball but threw it over first baseman Greg Brodzinski’s head. Netzel advanced to second, and more importantly, Schmidt scored and gave the Copperheads the 1-0 lead.
On the defensive side, Copperheads pitcher Joe Wahl threw a gem, and was consistently strong throughout the Cheads’ growing lead.
“I felt good out there. I was able to throw first pitch strikes, and when I do that it makes it a lot easier,” Wahl said.
“He was great. He was able to get ahead of guys early,” head coach Chris Moore added. “On a day like today when we are very short on pitchers, it was probably one of the biggest starts of the year.”
Wahl threw a complete game, only allowing four hits and striking out four. Most importantly he didn’t let the Locos cross home plate, out-pitching one of the best pitchers in the league, Botjer.
“For a while there we were battling back and forth and I just wanted to match his zeros and put the pressure on him,” Wahl said.
The Copperheads added one more run in the sixth when Matt Lopez hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Netzel from third. The Copperheads won 5-0, shutting out the first place team in the league.
"I think if we have the right mindset and play together we can play with any team in the league,” Borgschulte said.
With their playoff fate decided earlier in the day, the Copperheads continued to build momentum for the playoffs by beating the first place Lima Locos 7-4.
The Cheads victory in game one, coupled with the Stark County Terriers loss, allowed them to clinch the fourth seed in the six-team postseason.
The Cheads will host the Terriers on Tuesday night for the right to move into the semifinals (Southern Ohio won three of the four games against Stark County in the regular season).
As for game two, the Cheads pounced on Locos starting pitcher Ruben Tregallo from the start. In the second inning, Ben Netzel crushed a two-run home run off the adjacent softball field fencing in right field for a 2-0 lead to start the party.
The Cheads added five more runs in the inning, highlighted by Ben Otto’s RBI double and Joe Sturino’s sac fly. Then with two outs, Blaise Salter hammered a moon shot into the parking lot in left field for a two-run homer and a seven run inning.
Danny McMurtrey made his first start of the summer after pitching in relief in his first five outings and was excellent. He allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings to continue the momentum gained from Joe Wahl’s shutout in game one.
Lima’s only two runs against McMurtrey were scored in the third inning when Otto’s throw from second sailed into the Locos dugout.
Tyler Isbell came in for the seventh inning and allowed a run to cut the Cheads’ lead to 7-3. Evan Brisentine pitched in and out of trouble in the eighth inning as he allowed a run before striking out Jacob Bruce with two runners on to end the threat.
In the ninth, the Cheads turned to closer Josh Roeder with a three run lead. Roeder, who has only allowed one earned run in 15 innings, pitched a perfect inning to earn his fifth save of the summer and preserve the victory.
With the win, the Southern Ohio Copperheads presented by O’Bleness Health System finished the regular season at 22-17, two games behind first place.
They will play their first playoff game at home at Bob Wren at 7:30 p.m. this Tuesday.
Marlowe Alter and Michael Garr are interns with the Southern Ohio Copperheads media.