West Virginia kept pace in the race for the South Atlantic League Northern Division pennant Wednesday, beating visiting Greensboro 7-6 at Appalachian Power Park.The win, combined with Hagerstown's loss to Hickory, moves the Power (29-23) back into first place by a half game over the Suns. Hickory sits one game behind West Virginia in third place with Greensboro (26-26) in fourth.West Virginia jumped out to an early lead with a five-run second inning. Francisco Aponte got the Power started with a two-run triple, followed by an Elias Diaz sacrifice fly to score Aponte.Alen Hason walked and later scored on a Taylor Lewis double. Lewis scored on a Jose Osuna triple. After a third-inning run from Greensboro, the Power extended its lead back to five runs with another hit and run scored by Aponte in the fourth.
Greensboro flipped a switch at the plate in the fourth and fifth innings and got to West Virginia starting pitcher Mike Jefferson. With the bases loaded, Mike Smith leveled the score for the Grasshoppers with a three-run double. Smith was the last batter Jefferson faced as Joan Montero came in to finish the inning for the Power.The Power bullpen was able to keep Greensboro off the scoreboard from that point with Montero, Robbie Kilcrease and Nathan Kilcrease combining to finish the game for West Virginia."Lately we've been throwing the ball well," Power manager Rick Sofield said. "Montero had a great outing, he's the star of the game to me. He comes in and throws three innings of pretty good baseball to make this possible. The Kilcreases have been outstanding for us all summer so once we give the ball to them we feel very confident."
The Power took the lead for good in the seventh inning when Hanson beat a throw and reached on an infield single that brought Junior Sosa in to score. Sofield said it was typical of what Hanson has done for West Virginia this season."Speed does that," he said. "With his power and speed you pick your poison. I like guys that can run and he can sure do that."Montero was credited with the win to move to 3-0 on the season. Nathan Kilcrease got the save for the Power, his 12th of the year.The Power now hits the road for four games at Kannapolis before returning home Monday to start a seven-day stand at Appalachian Power Park. With just 18 games remaining on the schedule and the standings in the SAL Northern Division tight, the race for the pennant could come down to the last few games.The Power finished the first half of the season in last place and only won 23 games. That seems like a lifetime ago to Sofield and his team, who are in position to qualify for the SAL playoffs for the first time since 2007."We're professionals and we're competitors. We've been doing this since we were 6," Sofield said. "We've been trying to win a game in any league we've ever been in so winning is part of the scenario."POWER POINTS: Hanson and teammate Greg Polanco were each selected near the top of Wednesday's Dominican Winter League reserve draft. Hanson was the second overall selection, going to Estrellas Orientales, while Polanco was taken with the fourth overall pick by Leones Del Escogido. Two other Power players, Emmanuel De Leon (13th round) and Montero (17th round) were selected in the draft. Minnesota Twins prospect Miguel Sano was the first player taken.