COPLEY TWP.: Backed by a stellar defensive effort, Copley sophomore right-hander Jarod Deagan did something Wednesday no other pitcher had been able to do in 2014.
He beat Wadsworth.
The Indians (9-4, 5-2) scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and then turned the game over to Deagan and their defense in defeating the visiting Grizzlies 2-1 in a Suburban League baseball game.
“We’ve been successful this year for the most part with pitching and defense,” Copley coach Mike Chuppa said. “Jarod did a great job getting out of some jams. He battled for seven innings against a really good-hitting team. He also got some big plays behind him with our defense.”
Deagan scattered eight hits, walked two, and hit two, but struck out six and threw strikes when his back was against the wall.
“Last year, I relieved and came in against these guys in extra innings, and I gave up a few hits and we lost,” Deagan said. “I felt awful. But this year, I’m glad I could come out and throw seven innings and we were able to beat them.
“My middle infielders [shortstop Chris Brennan, second baseman Jordan Wharton] are my best friends. They also are sophomores. This guy [Wharton] made a couple of huge plays.”
In the top of the third, Wadsworth junior catcher Alex Laikos doubled home lead-off hitter Riley Campbell to make it 2-1. After Laikos stole third, and with two out, Wharton turned in a defensive gem when he smothered a ground ball headed through the middle and retired junior Kyle Pennington to end the threat.
Deagan (4-1) wriggled out of a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, when he induced a ground ball to Wharton.
In the top of the sixth, with one out, Grizzlies Nick Bebout and Greg Young reached on back-to-back singles. Deagan got Campbell to roll into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play. Brennan snared Wharton’s relay with his bare hand and fired to first to nip Campbell.
“Jordan did a great job at second base,” Chuppa said. “He’s a hard worker and for a sophomore he’s done a really nice job.”
Wharton handled four chances without an error as both teams had a clean sheet defensively.
“With Jarod throwing, you know you’re going to get a lot of ground balls,” Wharton said. “He’s always going to be pounding the strike zone.
“Chris [Brennan] made a great turn for us at shortstop [on the double play].”
Laikos led off the seventh for Wadsworth and blasted a drive to the base of the left-field fence. Senior Josh Isler, coping with the sun, made the big catch.
“Once that ball was hit, I thought they had tied the game up,” Deagan said.
Wadsworth (10-1, 6-1) stranded nine base runners.
“We’ve been getting that [clutch] hit all year,” Wadsworth coach Greg Pickard said. “We just didn’t get it today. You have to give their pitcher credit.”
Laikos belted two doubles, while Bebout (4-1) worked six innings and took his first loss for the Grizzlies.
Deagan helped himself with a sacrifice fly to score senior third baseman Dan Beaton, who worked a walk to get the Indians started. In between, Brennan was credited with a double on a fly ball lost in the sun. Copley senior first baseman Kevin Shea crushed a triple over the right fielder’s head to score senior Conor Pentella to make it 2-0.
“I kind of like seeing the faster pitching,” said Shea, who went 2-for-3 and lined out to right. “They really gave it to us last year, so this win feels good.”
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