Everett’s Connor Kopach savors 1st professional homer

The 25th-round pick from Southern Illinois has played well for the AquaSox in his pro debut.

EVERETT — Connor Kopach learned early in his baseball career not to watch where the ball went after he made contact.

As a freshman in high school he watched a long fly ball he thought was a home run hit the fence. He was thrown out at second base.

As a result of that learning experience he did not see his first professional home run clear the right-center field fence Sunday at Everett Memorial Stadium.

“I wasn’t sure if it was actually going to get over or not,” Kopach said. “Once I saw the ump wave his hand around I was relieved and I was happy I got my first career home run, my first career hit and my first career RBI and everything. It was a great feeling.”

The hit came in Kopach’s second at-bat leading off the bottom of the third inning. He struck out leading off the ballgame, but finished 3-for-5 in his professional debut with a bunt single and an infield single. Kopach represented the tying run when he was stranded at second base in the bottom of the ninth inning. Everett stranded 10 runners in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Hillsboro.

“It had been a while since I had seen live pitching,” Kopach said. “I was just trying to put the ball in play and see fastballs early in the count and try to put my best swing on the ball, try to get the barrel and just try to get on base as much as possible.”

Kopach, who played in college at Southern Illinois, was the 25th-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in this year’s draft. He hit six home runs as a redshirt senior and 13 in his career for the Salukis, who were eliminated from the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on May 25.

“It was a little different seeing 93, 92 (miles per hour) after not seeing a ball thrown that hard since the conference tourney,” Kopach said.

After sitting the first two games of the Hillsboro series Kopach started at shortstop on Sunday. He was back in the lineup Monday at second base.

The AquaSox currently have eight infielders on the active roster, so players figure to bounce around between several positions for the first few weeks until manager Jose Moreno settles on an everyday lineup – something he anticipates happening in the second half of the season.

“It’s been fun – I can’t ask for much more,” Kopach said. “I don’t have to work a job that I don’t want to work. I’m playing a game that I love, for money, and trying to win games with guys that are doing the same exact thing.”

The AquaSox entered Monday’s game still in search of their first win of the young season. That includes a 5-2 loss on opening night and a 12-6 defeat in the second game.

Everett surrendered all dozen runs in the first inning of Game 2, but Moreno was pleased with the way the bullpen responded.

“It was a tough first inning but after that we played eight good innings and the bullpen did a really good job,” Moreno said.

The AquaSox also got a strong start from Orlando Razo in Sunday’s 3-2 loss. Razo struck out five and allowed two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Nevertheless Everett remained the one winless NWL team prior to Monday’s game.

The Frogs and the Hops conclude their season-opening five-game series Tuesday. Everett visits the Vancouver Canadians for three games beginning Wednesday before returning home Saturday to begin a three-game series against the Tri-City Dust Devils.

For the latest AquaSox news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.

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