Entering the finals stretch

Southern Ohio’s Daniel Cruz (right) had four hits, and the Copperheads won their third straight game on Sunday with a 6-5 walk-off victory over Xenia inside Bob Wren Stadium.

Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, July 16 newspaper on Page A6. 

The Copperheads have turned over a big chunk of their roster in the last three weeks.

Nonetheless, Southern Ohio will dive into the final week of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League season in control of its own destiny.

The Copperheads (20-15) bring a three-game winning streak into the final week of the season. Southern Ohio remains just a half-game back of the division lead in the GLSCL South Division, and a spot in the league playoffs. The Copperheads remain in the thick of the division title race after a three-game sweep over Xenia over the weekend, including a pair of close wins at Bob Wren Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

“We can still win this thing,” said Southern Ohio head coach Austin Dunfee on Wednesday. “We just have to keep it together and then a make final push.”

Southern Ohio has refilled most of the open roster slots left from a confluence of injuries and limitations on the pitching staff caused by innings limits. Now it’s time for the push, after an early-week break.

The GLSCL will break for three days for the league’s annual All-Star Game and showcase, on Tuesday night at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. There were no league games on Monday, the All-Star events will take place Tuesday, and another off day follows on Wednesday.

After that, the Copperheads will have six games in six games in a last-ditch attempt to either win the South Division outright or claim one of the other postseason qualifying spots.

Southern Ohio, the defending GLSCL champion, will have a chance to repeat if it can take care of business in the final stretch.

“We’ve done a good job of getting to this point,” Dunfee said. “Now it’s all about finishing.”

Weekend rundown

Southern Ohio swept the Xenia Scouts (17-19) with a 7-5 win on Saturday, and a dramatic 6-5 walk-off victory on Sunday at Bob Wren Stadium.

Sebastian Fabik, one of Southern Ohio’s three All-Star selections, hit a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday to give the Copperheads new life. Three batters later, Phillip Glasser provided the walk-off heroics with a RBI single to right to deliver the 6-5 win.

The rally made a winner of reliever Jacob Ladley (1-0), a late roster addition, who pitched a scoreless ninth. Jack Bennett, who allowed 11 hits and five runs over eight innings, got Southern Ohio to the ninth in just his second start of the summer.

Daniel Cruz led the Southern Ohio offense with a 4-for-4 day at the plate and drove in two runs. Zach Iverson, another All-Star pick, had three hits. Fabik and Glasser each finished with two hits, and RBIs in a big spot in the ninth.

On Saturday, Southern Ohio raced out to a 7-2 lead and held on for the win after Xenia scored three times in the ninth.

Braxton Kelly (2-0), a closer now converted into a starter, worked six strong innings — he gave up two runs, three hits and struck out six — to pick up the victory. Nick Kaiser got his first save of the summer after pitching the final three innings.

Reese Trahey had three hits, two doubles and scored three times to lead the Copperheads at the plate. Carter Cross added two hits and two RBI, while Kyle Gammon chipped in an RBI single.

On tap

Southern Ohio will face South Division co-leader Licking County (21-15) in a three-game series beginning on Thursday. All three games will be at Bob Wren Stadium, and represent the final three home games of the summer for the Snakes.

Southern Ohio will then wrap up the regular season with a three-game series at Richmond (12-23) starting on Sunday.

Tuesday — GLSCL All-Star Game, 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday — OFF

Thursday — vs. Licking County, 7:05 p.m.

Friday — vs. Licking County, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday — vs. Licking County, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday — at Richmond, 5:05 p.m.

Monday — at Richmond, 7:05 p.m.

Tuesday — at Richmond, 7:05 p.m.

2019 GLSCL Standings

North Division

Lima Locos 24-10

Muskegon Clippers 19-17

Michigan Monarchs 19-17

Grand Lake Mariners 16-19

St. Clair Green Giants 15-18

Galion Graders 8-26

South Division

Cincinnati Steam 21-15

Licking Co. Settlers 21-15

Southern Ohio Copperheads 20-15

Hamilton Joes 18-16

Xenia Scouts 17-19

Richmond Jazz 12-23

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

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