Players of the Week: Week One
Date: Jun 16, 2018
by Rebekah Markovitz
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Southern Ohio Copperheads played their first home game against the Cincinnati Steam in front of bleachers full of local fans, despite the 90-degree weather. However, it was the players that brought the heat. In the last inning, it was full count, two-outs, bases loaded, and the Copperheads were down by one. Fans were on their feet cheering for a game changing play, but the Copperheads fell short to the Steam losing 9-8.
Dalton Earich started on the mound for the Copperheads following the first pitch of the game Ohio University Duane Nellis, and struck out three batters. Earich struck out Cincinnati’s first batter of the game, Ryan Fournier, but the Copperhead’s defense struggled, having committed two errors in the first three innings.
Cincinnati’s first game of the season was rained out, but they started strong as if it was not their first game playing together. Pitcher and designated hitter Grant Macciocchi got the momentum rolling with two stolen bases, and ran across home plate off Griffin Bernardo’s hit to center field to score the first run of the game.
From there, the Steam scored five unanswered runs and it seemed they would keep a comfortable lead for the remainder of the game. However, the Copperheads turned the tables in the bottom of the third inning. Joey Weisenseel was hit by a pitch and stole second base to set up a scoring opportunity. Noah Weiner then hit the ball to right field to bring Weisenseel home for Southern Ohio’s first point of the game.
In the fourth inning, Blaine Crim ripped a single that was followed by a double from Blake Holub and Ty Alderman hit by a pitch, to load the bases. All three men on base crossed home plate starting with a hit from Collin Minor and finishing with Weisenseel’s two-out double.
Just one inning later, the Copperheads scored three more unanswered runs to take the lead for the first time. On the first pitch of the inning, Crim hit a triple that made the crowd go wild. Holub then sent a ground ball to right field to bring Crim home for the tying run. A play later, the Steam made their first error of the night, and the Copperheads capitalized on it. With runners on first and third, Joe Stewart hit an RBI single. Then Weisenseel hit a sacrifice fly to bring Alderman home and the Copperheads went up 7-5.
From there, it was a back and forth game. The Steam scored when Marshall Gei took advantage of a wild pitch from Chris Mutter, and tied it back up just a play later when Eddie Pursinger hit a single RBI in the top of the sixth.
Jack Liberatore stepped on the mound to relieve Mutter in the seventh inning, and had the chance to keep the game tied. The Steam had two outs, but a full count ended with Thomas Bennett walking to keep the Steam alive. They then capitalized off an error at home plate and scored two more runs to put them up 9-7.
It was at this point in the game where the Southern Ohio Copperhead’s Coach, Phil Butler, said was the biggest turning point. Butler said that he didn’t know if Jack Liberatore and Chris Mutter had “their best stuff” and that they did not attack their hitters as well as he wanted them too. Andrew Franklin pitched the last two innings and struck-out two batters.
Ty Alderman gave the Copperheads some hope in the eight inning, hitting his first home run of the season, but it all came down to the last batter of the last inning. The Steam put in a fresh pitcher, Jake Kates, to battle against Weisenseel. The Copperheads were down 9-8, it was full count, two-outs, and bases loaded.
Butler said he was nervous with each swing at bat. Each time Weisenseel swung, he thought it would be a hit. Weisenseel fought to stay alive, hitting a total of five foul balls before striking out eleventh at bat.
The Copperheads will try to claim their first at home win Sunday at 5:35pm in their second game against The Cincinnati Steam.