Keys get started with 9-3 triumph over Indians


FREDERICK -- Rocky Coppinger and the Frederick Keys had an impressive 1995 debut here last night.

Coppinger overcame a shaky start to pitch five scoreless innings and the Keys used their speed and the home run to register a 9-3 win over the Kinston Indians before 3,022 at Harry M. Grove Stadium. It was the opening game in the Single-A Carolina League for both teams.

"This is going to be a fun team," said Keys manager Mike O'Berry. "I'm really looking forward to this season.

"We've got a bunch of kids up from rookie ball [Bluefield] and Jesse Garcia, who didn't play at all last year [because of injury]. They were all excited just to be playing a game."

And nobody was more excited than Coppinger, who walked three of the first five batters he faced.

"He has a tendency to try and throw too hard," said O'Berry. "He doesn't have to do that. He throws plenty hard enough."

Once he settled down, Coppinger dominated the Indians. He struck out seven, allowed just one hit and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.

Third baseman Tommy Davis, the Orioles' first selection in last year's draft (in the second round), hit his first home run of the year, a towering two-run shot in the sixth.

Tony Runion, who allowed six hits and six runs in the five innings he pitched, was the losing pitcher. Tim Daigle, who allowed all three Kinston runs (two of them unearned) and Ron Kitchen each pitched two innings in relief of Coppinger.

Both starting pitchers struggled with their control in the early innings, with the difference being Coppinger's ability to deliver the strikeout pitch when needed. The 6-foot-5 right-hander walked four in the first two innings, when Kinston stranded four runners in scoring position.

The Keys were more fortunate, scoring two runs in the first on David Lamb's bases-loaded grounder. Indians shortstop Enrique Wilson bobbled the ball, eliminating the possibility of an inning-ending double play, and Garcia was able to score from second.

Two innings later, Davis scored from second while Lamb was striking out on a wild pitch. The Keys then broke open the game by scoring six times in the fourth through sixth innings, with Davis' home run over the left-field fence capping the scoring.

"Our base running probably accounted for five or six of our runs," said O'Berry. "It was a very good game for these kids. We made some mistakes, but overall it was a very good start."

The Keys and Indians play here again tonight, then conclude the four-game series with afternoon games tomorrow and Sunday.

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