Note: This recap appears in the Tuesday, June 25 newspaper on Page A6.
You can consider the Copperheads’ slump to be officially busted.
Southern Ohio (9-8) posted a perfect week over the last seven days as the Copperheads broke a three-game losing skid with a five-game winning streak.
The surge moved Southern Ohio from last into fifth place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League South Division standings. More than that, however, it got the Copperheads on track. Southern Ohio now has the sixth-best record in the league, would be just a half-game back of the lead in the North Division, and is a manageable 2.5 games behind Hamilton for the South Division lead.
“This is the week when we got back on track,” said Southern Ohio infielder Phillip Glasser.
The Copperheads did so by injecting new life into the offense. Southern Ohio scored no less than seven runs in any of the five games over the past week, averaging more than 10 runs per game over the streak, and twice piled up 13 runs.
The uptick sent the Copperheads rocketing up the offensive ranks in league play. Southern Ohio was 10th in team batting average on June 16; the Copperheads start this week second with a .291 average.
“They went to the plate, every at-bat, with a plan. That’s what this has boiled down to,” said Southern Ohio head coach Austin Dunfee.
And though the standings don’t reflect it yet, the Copperheads have started to build a resume as one of the best teams in the GLSCL. They lead the league in batting average, and rank second in Team ERA (2.95). At plus-38 in run differential — Southern Ohio has scored 108 runs and allowed 70 — the Copperheads rank in the league’s top third in that metric.
It sets up Southern Ohio to have another big week. The Copperheads have two-game sets at St. Clair (6-7) and North Division doormat Galion (3-12), before a two-game home series against North Division leader Lima (9-7) next Saturday and Sunday.
Southern Ohio posted two more lopsided wins on Saturday and Sunday to claim a two-game sweep over the visiting Michigan Monarchs at the Wren.
The Copperheads knocked off Michigan (6-11) by a 13-5 count on Saturday night, then picked up an 8-4 win in the home-stand finale on Sunday.
Southern Ohio trailed three times on Saturday — at 1-0, 4-2 and 5-4 — but grabbed control for good with a six-run fifth inning and a 10-5 lead that was never threatened.
Reliever Tanner Glass (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after giving up one run on three hits in 4.2 innings of clutch relief. Glass notched five strikeouts.
Jake Hansen — four runs, five walks allowed in 3.1 innings — was ineffective for the Copperheads, and Collin Sells pitched a scoreless ninth.
Daniel Cruz and Zyon Avery led another big offensive night by gathering three hits apiece. Cruz finished with three RBI and Avery had two RBI. Sebastian Fabik had two hits and drove in three runs, and Jared Heard notched two RBI.
Fabik’s two-run single jump-started the big fifth inning. Cruz followed with a two-run double and Heard and Ty Crittenberg added RBI later in the frame as Southern Ohio pinned Easton Sikorsiki (1-1) with the loss.
On Sunday, Southern Ohio never trailed after scoring three times in the first inning. The Copperheads added three more runs in the fifth for a 6-1 lead.
Starting pitcher Zach Iverson continued to click for the Copperheads, and improved to 2-0 after getting the win. Iverson allowed three earned runs and six hits over seven innings of work, and punched out eight Monarchs.
Reece Trahey had two hits and two RBI to lead Southern Ohio. Avery and Ben Rushing each added two hits.
Avery, Rushing and Glass each had RBI singles in the first to make it 3-0. Scott Combs had an RBI single and Lucas Nasonti added a two-run single in the fifth as Southern Ohio put the game away.
Drew Szczepaniak (0-2) took the loss for Michigan after giving up seven earned runs and nine hits over 5.0 innings.
Southern Ohio’s Braxton Kelly retired the final four batters in order to pick up his second save of the summer.
Fabik has climbed up the leader board and now leads the GLSCL with a .400 batting average. Cruz, active for just 12 games so far, ranks 11th in the league with 12 RBI and 14th with a .342 batting average.
On the mound, Thomas Zazzaro (2-0) ranks fourth in the league with a 0.85 ERA and Iverson is sixth in ERA (1.46) while leading the GLSCL with 29 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched.
The Copperheads continue their tour through the North Division this week with six more games against the ‘other’ division in the GLSCL.
Southern Ohio will play four straight road games — at St. Claire and at Galion — before returning to Bob Wren Stadium for a two-game set on Saturday and Sunday.
Tuesday — at St. Claire, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday — at St. Claire, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday — at Galion, 7:05 p.m.
Friday — at Galion, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday — vs. Lima, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday — vs. Lima, 5:35 p.m.
Monday — Off