COPLEY TWP.: Stow’s bats are heating up with the weather, just in time to inflict playoff damage.
A three-run, first-inning homer by Tyler Hallam provided a quick lift and Stow hitters continued to pound away against Copley pitching for a 15-5 victory over the host Indians in a Hudson Division I sectional semifinal.
A six-run sixth put the Bulldogs up 15-4 and they limited Copley (14-10) to one run in its half, ending the game an inning early on the 10-run mercy rule under bright sunshine, shortly before another spring storm arrived.
Stow (10-10) used a five-run fourth to break a 4-4 tie, and advances to play rival Cuyahoga Falls (7-14) at Waterworks Park at 4:30 p.m. today in a sectional final. Falls defeated Brecksville 5-3 Tuesday.
Hallam, a junior left fielder, went 4-for-4 with five runs batted in, including a triple and two singles to lead a 16-hit attack.
Needing a double for the cycle in the sixth inning, he instead laid down a perfect bunt single along the third-base line that loaded the bases and sparked the big inning.
“I got the bunt sign from coach so I had to lay her down,” said Hallam, grinning. “It would have been nice to get a cycle. I’ve never had one before.”
Junior Justin Grove and senior Mike Urban both singled to start the game. Copley junior starter Justin Hovorka retired the next two batters and had a 1-2 count on Hallam but the right-handed hitter got a fastball and drilled it over the fence just left of the 355-foot sign in left center.
Gusty winds were blowing that way most of the game but it was more like a gentle breeze on Hallam’s second home run of the season.
“I hit it pretty hard,” he said. “I think the wind might have helped it a little bit but it was a nice hit.”
Stow coach Bryan Celik said it was typical of the way his team has performed.
“Tyler hit the ball great today,” Celik said. “Tyler’s been doing that for us all year. He’s had a great week this last week, with a grand slam against Twinsburg [12-11 win] to get us back into that game.
“We’ve been hitting the ball well these last couple weeks. We’ve been playing well. That’s what we’ve talked about all year, especially with this weather. We want to peak at the end of the year.”
Hallam’s two-out single in the third made it 4-0 but Copley tied it in the bottom of the inning on five hits, including a double by senior catcher Matt Rosso, a two-run single by senior Conor Pentella, and RBI singles by senior Daniel Beaton and sophomore Jordan Wharton.
Stow responded with the five-run fourth, highlighted by an RBI single by junior Andrew Groves, two-run single by junior Parker Henderson and RBI triple by Hallam.
Back-to-back two-run doubles by sophomore Owen Fankhauser and senior Bryan Ritchie led the six-run sixth.
“That’s certainly a tough way to end the season when we’ve played well and been competitive for the entire year,” Copley coach Mike Chuppa said. “We just flat out got beat today. They didn’t miss too many pitches today. They hit the ball all over the place and we didn’t ever really seem to have an answer.”
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