BOWIE -- The rehabilitation of Rocky Coppinger took a decided turn for the better last night at Prince George's Stadium.
Rust was less evident, his velocity was good and Coppinger extended to 92 pitches while making his second start for the Bowie Baysox of the Double-A Eastern League.
In five innings, he struck out nine Binghamton Mets and walked only one while allowing two runs on bases-empty homers by Preston Wilson (ex-major leaguer Mookie Wilson's stepson) and Fletcher Bates.
Coppinger left with a 4-2 lead, entrusting his hoped-for victory to the Bowie bullpen. The Baysox hung on to win, 4-3.
"I got a little tired toward the end," said the erstwhile fifth Orioles starter. "I guess I threw enough for it to be six innings instead of five.
"My pitches were up a little higher sometimes than I'd like, but I think I'm satisfied. I felt a lot better."
Orioles director of player development Syd Thrift said Coppinger will start again for the Baysox Sunday in Harrisburg, Pa.
"He's made very good progress. He was throwing 90, 91 miles an hour," said Thrift. "And we don't want to break up the combination of him and Larry McCall [Baysox pitching coach], so he'll stay with Bowie."
Coppinger used only 14 pitches to strike out the side in the first inning. His count rose with each succeeding inning, but Baysox manager Joe Ferguson allowed him to continue after two runners reached with one out in the fifth. He had already surpassed his approximate limit of 80 pitches.
"I think maybe Joe just came out to give me a breather," said Coppinger. "But I still had a couple left to work with."
The Baysox (52-50) staked him to a 4-0 lead against Scott Sauerbeck, a left-hander who had beaten them twice previously without allowing an earned run.
Jim Foster singled home the first run, Bryan Bogle accounted for the second with a sacrifice fly and Melvin Rosario followed with a two-run homer.
Avalanche 12, Keys 1: Mike Kusiewicz pitched eight shutout innings and allowed only three hits to lead Salem to victory over Frederick in a Single-A Carolina League game at Harry Grove Stadium.
Shorebirds-Suns ppd.: Delmarva's Single-A South Atlantic League game with Hagerstown was suspended due to rain and has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Aug. 13. Game time for the first game is 6 p.m.
Pub Date: 7/23/97