Copperheads Overtake Mariners

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By Luke O’Roark – Copperheads Staff Writer

CELINA, Ohio — The Southern Ohio Copperheads (11-4), presented by Ohio Health O’Bleness Hospital, won 7-4 Wednesday behind some rejuvenated offense in a series split with the Grand Lake Mariners (8-6).

After a disappointing offensive outing on Tuesday against the Mariners, the Copperheads’ production seemed to do a 180 in Game 2 and hardly looked like a team circumnavigating the state of Ohio in the middle of a five-game road trip.

Infielder Ryan Rippee rocketed an RBI to midfield during the top of the second, scoring Tyler Pagano for an early 1-0 lead. The infielder from Springfield, Missouri, finished the night with three hits in four at-bats and three RBIs.

The last time Southern Ohio scored a run in the first two frames of a game was five games prior: June 19 against the Cincinnati Steam.

“We had a little bit more intensity tonight,” Rippee said. “We came out, got on the board early and had a good effort from Zach Brown on the mound.

Catcher Will Salter had a hand in both sides of the ball. He finished a 3-2-3 double play with Mariners runners on second and third, halting an offensive onslaught in the bottom of the second frame.

In the fifth inning, Salter reached first base after a pitch grazed the side of his helmet. The Copperheads bullpen jubilantly yelled as Salter jogged to first: “It helps when your helmet is as big as the plate!”

Salter got back to business in the sixth where he notched an RBI to centerfield and helped the Cheads regain the lead.

In general, Salter, Rippee and the Cheads’ late batting order seemed much improved from Tuesday’s loss, which saw several miscues and mistakes at the plate. Salter finished with a hit and a run on the day, as during the top of the eighth, he, Rippee, Tyler Pagano and Tony Giannini score to ignite a four-run inning.

“We came out today a lot more focused,” Salter said. “We talked about it yesterday after the game, that we didn’t want to wait until the sixth inning to get the bats going. Today we kind of had a sense of urgency.”

Despite a strong performance at the plate, the Cheads work on the mound struggled early.

In 5 and 1/3 innings pitched, starter Zach Brown allowed nine hits and four earned runs against 26 batters. In the bottom of the sixth, the Mariners filled the bases and Brown eventually came out for reliever Zach Moore, after the Mariners notched a run on a walk.

Moore’s command eventually settled in and he finished the game with the victory. Eddie Fitzpatrick closed out the ninth inning to finish off the Mariners for his fourth save of the season..

“I just think overall we took a better approach at the plate,” Head Coach Johnathan Nichols said.

“We did some good things. Rippee was seeing the ball really well tonight. Tyler Pagano had back-to-back good games, so overall our approach at the plate was better. We were able to see some pitches and were able to get pitches we could hit and when we did, we took advantage of those.”

Up next, the Copperheads will travel to Strongsville Ohio to play the Northern Ohio Baseball Club (2-12) at 7:05. The series will end a five-game road trip.

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