KENT: Behind a strong pitching performance from senior starting pitcher Tyler Mastrangelo and great defense behind him, Copley defeated Cuyahoga Falls 6-1 at Kent State University’s Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium on Friday.

The Indians used a four-run fourth inning to break open a close game.

Ahead 2-1, the Indians rattled off two triples down the right-field line and a double in between to spark the rally. The run began with Steve Csepe’s RBI triple and was capped with Mike Dugan’s two-out, two-RBI triple a few batters later.

“We had some opportunities to score earlier in the game and it wasn’t until the fourth inning we were able to break through,” Copley coach Mike Chuppa said. “We were able to move some runners over and get guys moving and got on the scoreboard a bit.”

From there, Mastrangelo stifled Cuyahoga Falls’ usually powerful bats to the tune of only three hits allowed in seven innings. He also struck out three.

“Tyler did a great job in his first start of the year,” Chuppa said. “He was throwing strikes, pounding the zone and using the defense.”

The Black Tigers did get ahold of a couple of pitches. Even then, though, the Copley defense gobbled up many a groundball that came its way.

Chuppa knows that defense being a major key to the Indians’ success isn’t a one-game theme. Copley returns its complete starting infield from a year ago.

“We’re fortunate to have our entire infield back from last year from first to third all the way around,” he said. “Those guys are our core. We hang our hat on defense and particularly up the middle.”

Copley also had the added bonus of being used to how the ball plays faster on turf, the surface used by Kent State. The surface of the Indians’ football field is turf, which allows the infielders to practice taking grounders.

Senior shortstop Lou Gigliotti was especially handy with a glove. Gigliotti aided in eight outs, including two double plays to end Cuyahoga Falls rallies.

Gigliotti also went 3-4 at the plate with two doubles and two runs scored.

“As Lou goes, our offense goes,” Chuppa said about his leadoff hitter. “He’s a great athlete and when he gets on base and we can get him moving, it takes pressure off the other guys. We’re not going to tear the cover off the ball, but we have a lot of team speed.”

Cuyahoga Falls junior starting pitcher Ed Stokich’s outing certainly had its high and lows. After allowing two runs in the first inning (one earned), Stokich struck out seven of the next eight batters before allowing the big fourth inning.

“Eddie pitched well, and I liked how he came back after being down 2-0,” said Cuyahoga Falls coach Jim Farrell. “I think he just got a little tired. I made some bad pitch calls and the ball got away from our outfielders.”

The Black Tigers’ lone run came in the second inning, when junior Joe Repasky’s liner through the hole between third base and shortstop scored junior Jody Meade.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the high school blog at Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.