Pierce Coppola shines in elimination game

OMAHA, Neb. – Pierce Coppola was a highly sought-after prospect as a New Jersey prep left-handed pitcher, ultimately reaching Florida’s campus after going undrafted in the 2021 MLB draft.

Coppola’s first two years at Florida didn’t go as planned. He made just one start his freshman year and missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury. However, on Wednesday, Coppola showcased the talent that made him a premier recruit three years ago.

In an elimination game at Charles Schwab Field, Coppola delivered a strong performance, setting a collegiate career high of five innings pitched. He effectively limited Kentucky’s offense, helping the Gators secure a victory over Kentucky, 15-4.

“I mean, it means a lot,” said Coppola on his success against Kentucky. “(Assistant coach David Kopp) told me, ‘What took you so long to get your first win?’ It’s been a long journey.”

Coppola didn’t have an ideal start to the contest. He walked Kentucky leadoff hitter Ryan Waldschmidt on five pitches and then allowed a two-out base hit to score Waldschmidt.

The first inning didn’t faze Coppola, though. He responded nicely, especially after sitting in the dugout for 45 minutes as Florida’s offense scored seven runs.

Coppola pitched a clean second inning, striking out two batters, and was mostly effective in the ensuing innings.

Coppola allowed two singles, which led to a run in the fourth inning. He then left a pitch over the middle of the plate that Emilien Pitre sent over the right-center field wall for a two-run home run with two outs in the fifth.

Besides a few bad pitches, the 6-foot-8 lefty was sharp and attacked the strike zone, mixing his fastball and slider to keep the Kentucky hitters off-balanced.

“Today my fastball felt good off the hand,” Coppola said. “I was able to go in and out with it and just be able to draw my slider in whenever I needed to. It’s hard to hit when you’ve got a couple of pitches working. I just kept going with that.”

Coppola pitched five innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out nine batters. He threw 98 pitches, the most he’s thrown at Florida.

“I thought this is the best Pierce has thrown all year long,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “His stuff looked really crisp. Maybe him not throwing in the Supers, giving him a little time off, probably helped.”

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for nine years. He has interviewed 518 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski IIIhttp://BaseballProspectJournal.com
Dan Zielinski III is the creator of the Baseball Prospect Journal and has covered the MLB draft since 2015. His draft work originally appeared on The3rdManIn.com, a sports website he started in December 2011. He also covered the Milwaukee Brewers as a member of the credentialed media for four years. Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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