BARBERTON — Copley junior right-handed pitcher Isaiah Nichols delivered a shutout performance at just the right time Tuesday at Hal Naragon Field.
Nichols needed just 58 pitches to navigate through seven innings and help Copley earn a 5-0 win over host Barberton in a Division I baseball sectional semifinal.
Barberton (6-17) beat Copley (8-16-1) twice in the regular season, 10-0 and 4-3, but it is the Indians who will play at Medina in a sectional final at 5 p.m. Thursday.
“Pitching was completely different than that what happened before,” Copley coach Ray Fantozzi said. “The 4-3 game, we had a pretty good outing from our lefty [Nathan Young], but we just didn’t hit enough. Today, we got on top and played good defense.”
Moments earlier, Fantozzi smiled as he talked with pitching coach Jonathan Kountis about Nichols' outing, which included 46 strikes and 12 balls. Copley’s win came after it upset previously undefeated Norton 6-3 in a regular-season game Saturday.
“Isaiah had no walks, hit one batter and allowed four hits,” Fantozzi said. “That is outstanding.”
Nichols said: “I was pounding the strike zone and didn’t throw many balls. I didn’t walk anybody or strike anybody out.”
Copley seniors Adam Nedolast and Charlie Drumm each hit a single and scored a run in the top of the first inning after Barberton made errant throws.
In the fifth, Nedolast smacked a double that scored junior Andrew Wachs and sophomore Joe Reho hit a single that scored Nedolast. The Indians' final run came in the sixth when a squeeze bunt by Wachs scored senior Daniel Brennan.
“Today, we were actually hitting the ball,” said Nedolast, who celebrated his 18th birthday Tuesday. “I was hitting the ball up the middle and I felt good. The last two games against them we didn’t really hit well and I didn’t hit well.”
Senior Max Taylor had two hits for Barberton.
“A couple of things went their way in the first inning and then after that we pressed a little bit,” Barberton coach Steve Fasig said. “... When we did hit the ball hard, we hit the ball hard at people. Unfortunately, that is the game of baseball.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.