Pill tough for Power to swallow

Kenny Kemp
Five-year-old Max Wilcox of Charleston gets a baseball signed by Pittsburgh Pirates great Dave Parker during the Charlies Reunion on Friday at Appalachian Power Park. Left of Parker is one of his Pirate teammates, Kent Tekulve.
Watching from the dugout at Appalachian Power Park the past few nights taught Savannah right-hander Tyler Pill a few things about Charleston's new ballpark.From a pitcher's perspective, at least, he didn't particularly like what he saw."It's a band box,'' said Pill. "The dimensions are small.''In light of what he deemed hitter-friendly conditions, Pill had good reason to feel uncomfortable in the sixth inning Friday night.The Power loaded the bases with none out and threatened to erase a two-run deficit but Pill, pitching with the efficiency that has set him apart this season, minimized the damage in helping the Sand Gants to a 6-2 victory over the Power. A paid crowd of 3,147 attended.Pill, who pitched for Cal State-Fullerton in the 2009 College World Series, yielded singles to Greg Polanco, Jose Osuna and Dan Gamache to load the bases in the sixth and allowed one run — on Chris Lashmet's infield out — but escaped trouble with a strikeout and a caught stealing. The inning ended with the Sand Gants leading 3-2.A little luck helped, he admitted."I made some good pitches and got away with some,'' said Pill. "They fouled some pitches off that maybe weren't the best. Ultimately I made some good pitches, and the defense got me out of it.''Through it all, he paid no mind to the hitter-friendly conditions.
"As a pitcher,'' he said, "you can't really worry about it. Either way, it's going to take a pretty good approach by a hitter to hit one out.''The 21-year-old Pill, who entered the game with a 1.76 earned run average, surrendered two runs and eight hits in six innings and impressed Power manager Rick Sofield."He threw some breaking balls to young kids when there should have been a fastball,'' said Sofield. "He had a nice little bite. He busted you in with a nice slider.''The Power collected eight hits and drew three walks but not enough clutch hits."We had some RBI opportunities and didn't get it done,'' said Sofield. "They got a hit when they needed it, and we didn't. We hit some hard balls in some spots and didn't get anything to show for it. We were one swing away. They hit a couple quails.''POWER POINTS: The Power, who split a four-game series with Savannah, will face Greensboro at 7:05 tonight in the first of a three-game series. ... Power outfielder Josh Bell underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee Friday and will be out for several weeks. Bell was injured while running the bases in a game on Tuesday. Bell was hitting .274 with one homer and 11 RBI in 15 games. ...
Despite a recent seven-game losing streak, Sofield sees rays of hope. "We played very well in Charleston [S.C.]. We split this series. Things are getting better here,'' he said. "Our pitching has improved tenfold. We're finding ourselves a little bit. It took awhile.'' ...It was Charlies Reunion Night, and former Charlies Cal Bailey, Danny Godby, Gary Kolb, Steve Blass, Kent Tekulve and Dave Parker attended.Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhiteford@wvgazette.com.
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