Last man standing

Zach Iverson, a GLSCL All-Star Game selection at second base, is the lone starting pitcher remaining on the Southern Ohio roster that began the summer in the same role.

On Monday night, Micah Krieghauser was at home — in Lake City, Florida — and scrolling through Twitter.

By Wednesday night, Krieghauser was exhausted, on the other side of the country and loving every second of it.

“Are you kidding? This is great,” said Krieghauser, a left-hander who throws during the college season at Toccoa Falls College. “I just want to play baseball and help these guys win.”

Krieghauser did his part, but the Copperheads had a dog-day kind of night in a 9-0 home loss to visiting Hamilton on Wednesday at Bob Wren Stadium. Southern Ohio (17-14) was hitless over the first four innings, opened the door with a trio of errors, and finish with just eight total baserunners.

Hamilton (16-13) got three hits and four RBI from Preston Miller, three hits and three runs scored from Marshall Rich, and a dynamic first start of the summer from starting pitcher Jack Myers (1-0). Myers held the Copperheads in check with seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits.

“We just didn’t get much going, and kind of got swamped early,” said Southern Ohio head coach Austin Dunfee.

Southern Ohio fell to 1-4 this season against the Joes, and was scheduled to wrap up the regular-season series against their division rivals on Thursday night. Even with the setback, the Copperheads sit just 1.5 games out of first place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League North Division.

With 31 games in the books, Southern Ohio would seem to be in a good position to make a run at the division title and possibly defend its GLSCL tournament championship. That position would only seem to be strengthened by the fact that the Copperheads just began an eight-game homestand.

But the state of the roster screams otherwise. All told, nine players on the Southern Ohio roster have left the team over the last two weeks, including All-Star selection catcher Chris Gambert and infielder Ben Rushing.

But that’s just a blip compared to the pitching staff. There, the Snakes have seen seven pitchers come off the roster — virtually all since the start of July. It’s been a devastating blow to the starting pitching rotation where Jackson Mandela, Jake Hansen, Thomas Zazzaro and Sam Wirsing have all been lost for the season.

It’s nothing nefarious, mainly an injury or two and college team-imposed inning counts. But it does leave a crater in the Southern Ohio pitching staff as the season winds down. Mandella, Hansen, Zazzaro and Wirsing accounted for 21 of the 31 starts this season.

Southern Ohio was left with just six pitchers on staff heading into Wednesday, which prompted the club to send out an open call on social media on Monday. The Copperheads needed arms, and were willing to look at anyone in their quest to try to defend the franchise’s first-ever GLSCL title.

Enter Krieghauser. He saw the post. He sent a direct message to the Copperheads’ account. Less than 48 hours later, he was on the mound in Bob Wren Stadium.

Krieghauser jumped in his Kia at about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, arrived in Athens 13 hours later, and was thrown into the game 90 minutes after that.

“We had six guys coming into tonight,” Dunfee said. “Yeah, if he got here it was probable he was going to get to pitch.”

Krieghauser did, and showed well despite the mileage count. He gave Southern Ohio five innings of filler work — Hamilton led 7-0 after four innings after getting to starter Tanner Glass — and pitched well enough to help save an arm or two for later in the week.

“I wasn’t sure they would use me tonight, but it was great,” Krieghauser said. “I showed up, they gave me a uniform and before long I was down in the bullpen.

“I got like five warm up pitches and it was go time.”

Glass (1-1) took the loss for Southern Ohio, and was making his first start of the summer. Third baseman Kyle Gammon, another recent addition and playing in his first game, had three errors in the first four innings.

Dunfee knows the Copperheads are stretched thin at the moment. But that social media call to arms has worked, he said.

“We’ve got four or five guys on their way here,” he said. “We just have to hold this together for a couple of days this week, get them here, and then make that final push.

“We have good enough pieces and good enough guys to make it happen,” Dunfee said. “We still have the best pitcher in the league (Zach Iverson), in my opinion, and other guys who are more than capable of stepping up.”

With 10 games, and less than two full weeks left, in the regular season, Krieghauser might pitch another four or five times. He said the last-minute trip from Florida to Ohio was worth it.

The Copperheads took the loss on Wednesday, but there’s still games to play.

“That’s what it comes down to really,” Krieghauser said. “I want to play baseball. I’ve got a chance here with a pretty good team that is playing in big games.

“What more could you want?”

Hamilton 9, Southern Ohio 0

Ham. 040 320 000 — 9-13-0

S.Ohio 000 000 000 — 0-3-3

Hamilton — Jack Myers and, Lunden Damuth (8) Marshall Rich.

Southern Ohio — Tanner Glass, Micah Krieghauser (5) and Tanner Johnson.

WP — Myers (1-0); LP — Glass (1-1).

Email at jarkley@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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