As the West Virginia Power thanked line workers Saturday night for their recent work in restoring electricity in the area after last week's storms, the team found its own surge of electricity on the field.Big play after big play found its way in the Power's favor, leading West Virginia past the Lakewood BlueClaws 8-1 in front of 1,308 at Appalachian Power Park. The Power used the combination of strong pitching, timely hitting and great defensive plays when needed.Power starter Robby Rowland let his presence by known early by retiring the first seven batters he faced. Rowland (5-2) allowed six hits, walked one and fanned three in six shutout innings."I'm a sinker guy and we have to rely on a lot of defense," said Rowland. "We had a great defense behind me tonight and that gives a pitcher a lot of confidence. Plus the offense putting up runs early was a comfort factor for me."That's one thing the offense has been doing for me here lately is putting up runs when I'm on the mound. I'm grateful for that and the defense that I got.""Rowland gave us a quality start," said Power manager Rick Sofield. "He had command of the game from the get-go. When he's on the mound, our team knows we have a chance to win the game. He pitched his butt off against a team that's swinging the bats pretty good."Even when faced with trouble, Rowland either worked his way out of it or got by with help from his teammates. Rowland gave a lot of credit in his performance to his catcher Elias Diaz."Elias behind the plate did a hell of a job tonight," said Rowland. "We were always on the same page with him calling the pitches."Sofield echoed the sentiments of his starting pitcher in Diaz's praise.
"That's the relationship between pitchers and catchers," said Sofield. "They're bedfellows on a nightly basis. [Diaz] had a great night with [Rowland] tonight."The play that stood out in the defensive support of Rowland came in the third inning, when Lakewood's Josh Ludy was thrown out a home by Power center fielder Gregory Polanco to Diaz.The Power (9-8) got on the board with two runs in the first inning and a solo homer by Jose Osuna in the second. Polanco added a two-run double in the fifth to give West Virginia a 5-0 lead.Lakewood starter Ramon Oviedo (1-7) surrendered five runs on seven hits in five innings. Moises Rivas pitched two scoreless innings, while Blake Mascarello was tagged for three runs in the eighth.Rinku Singh allowed one run on two hits in two innings for the Power, while Nathan Kilcrease gave up one hit in the ninth.The BlueClaws (9-9) scored their only run in the seventh inning on a solo home run by Gauntlett Eldemire.
The Power and the BlueClaws conclude their five-game set at 2:05 p.m. today. Ryan Hafner (0-6, 6.80 ERA) is scheduled to start for West Virginia against Lakewood's Colin Kleven (4-6, 4.41).Reach Dave Miller at 304-348-1749 or firstname.lastname@example.org