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Carmichaels beats Bud Murphy's in semifinal opener

A series between Carmichaels and Bud Murphy's is becoming something of a tradition in the Fayette County Baseball League. The teams have faced off in the playoffs several times in recent years, and each series has been a down-to-the-wire battle.

This time around, the Copperheads struck first, posting a 6-2 victory over Bud Murphy's in Game 1 of the best-of-5 semifinal series at the Carmichaels High School field.

"It was a good effort all the way around," Carmichaels manager Dick Krause said. "I'm very pleased. I think the key for us was we dodged some early trouble."

Krause said starting pitcher Ron Nopwasky got off to a bit of a slow beginning, but with the help of the Carmichaels' defense, he managed to steer clear of much damage.

Conversely, Bud Murphy's manager Tom Sankovich had hoped the Cokers could cause Nopwasky a little more trouble. Bud's had the bases loaded in each of the first two innings but mustered just one run, when Bubba Fox walked and scored on Kevin Hiles' sacrifice fly in the second.

"We did not get a hit in the first two innings," Sankovich said. "The key to the game was to get ahead (early), and then for a couple innings, we didn't make any plays."

Bud Murphy's starter Dale Eutsey held his own despite the lack of offense, but the Copperheads still managed to answer Fox's run with a pair of their own in the bottom of the second. Charlie Humes and Brad Baker each singled and scored in the inning, and Chris Buncic added a run in the third to make it 3-1.

Fox walked and scored again in the top of the fourth, this time heading home when Ryan Miscik hit into a fielder's choice. But the Cokers couldn't pull even, as Buncic and Josh Pratt used the bottom of the inning to put Carmichaels up, 5-2.

Eutsey left in the fifth, and reliever Wes Hughes limited the Copperheads to one hit in that inning, but Carmichaels broke through to cap their victory in the sixth when Joe Leonard singled and scored on a triple from Humes.

Bud Murphy's had tried to battle back earlier in the sixth. Fox singled to left with one out, but reliever Dan Burkintas fanned the next two. He also shut down the offense in the seventh to seal the win.

"He's been one of our best pitchers down the stretch," Krause said, noting that the save was Burkintas' third of the season.

The Cokers will try to even the series at 5:45 p.m. today at Breakneck Field.

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