(bisons.com) - Scott Copeland took the spotlight on Monday.
In the righty's Triple-A debut since being added to the team on Monday, Copeland pitched seven shutout frames for the Herd, leading to his first Triple-A win when Buffalo took down the Norfolk Tides 5-0 at Coca-Cola Field.
"I felt good about it. I'm excited right now," Copeland said. "I just wanted to go out attack the hitters, get ground balls and bring it to the next guy."
Copeland becomes the second starting pitcher in two days to make their Triple-A Debut. He led the Double-A FisherCats in innings pitched (133.2), strikeouts (86) and led all pitchers in the Eastern League with 17 double plays. In his seven-shutout frames of work, Copeland allowed six hits, walked one and fanned four Tide batters, including striking out the side in the seventh.
Copeland struck out only one before the seventh, instead the righty did what he's been doing in New Hampshire all season, forcing double plays. Norfolk had baserunners aboard in the first, second and fourth innings, but Copeland forced the Tides into three double plays in all three of those innings to end any threat the Tides had in mind.
"We've got a number of quality starts from our Double-A guy, especially with them being their first time out," manager Gary Allenson said postgame. "A lot of double play balls are a pitchers best friend."
"I knew I could compete at this level," said Copeland. "Defense is very important for me because I'm not a big strikeout or fly ball pitcher. I need my infielders to do some work."
Copeland is now the third pitcher for the Bisons this season to win his Double-A debut. He joins Deck McGuire and Brad Mills in that category.
"When you go around and talk to some of the guys you know, you get a good comfort level. It's a lot better than not knowing anybody," Copeland said.
Steve Delabar relieved Copeland and pitched a scoreless eighth. Mike Zagurski pitched a scoreless ninth to get the Herd's second shutout in its last three games.
Norfolk's Tyler Wilson looked sharp at times, but the Herd was too much for the righty to handle. In his 5.2 innings, Wilson struck out five, but walked three and gave up three earned on a Kevin Pillar Homer.
Pillar kept his hitting streak going in the third when he tattooed one over the leftfield wall. Jonathan Diaz got the inning started with a routine single to center and Darin Mastroianni followed up with a walk. Pillar then connected on a high 0-1 fastball that lined over the wall to put the Herd on the board and advance Pillar's hitting streak to 18 games for the second time this season.
Mastroianni did something you rarely ever see, in the fifth. Stationed at third, Mastroianni bolted towards the plate on a 3-0 pitch and stole home sliding head first to put the Herd ahead by four. The Bisons have had three runners steal home in the past three seasons (Corey Wimberly 2012, Anthony Gose 2013, Mastroianni 2014).
The two teams will clash tomorrow with Edwin Encaracion coming into to town to rehab with the Herd. First pitch is at 7:05pm with Kendall Graveman on the mound going up against Norfolk's Miguel Rodriguez.