Power walk off winners on Wood's ninth-inning blast
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On a night when most of the West Virginia batters were puzzled at the plate, third baseman Eric Wood stepped up and made the most of his opportunities.
Wood accounted for three of the Power's eight hits, with none of them more important than his three-run blast over the seats in left-center field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give West Virginia a 6-3 win against visiting Greensboro (N.C.).
West Virginia entered the ninth trailing the Grasshoppers 3-2 and evened the score when Walker Gourley scored on a Dilson Herrera single. Stetson Allie singled to advance Herrera to second with two outs before Wood put a ball over the old seats from Watt Powell Park to end the game.
"Fastball. It was just up. Right down the middle," Wood said of Blake Logan's final pitch of the game just before receiving a towel full of shaving cream from his teammates in the clubhouse. "We had some tough at-bats. They pitched us tough with runners on base today. We just kept at it and it worked out."
The win came in what was Joely Rodriguez's best start at Appalachian Power Park this season. Rodriguez pitched six decent innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Left-hander Josh Smith took over for Rodriguez in the seventh and also pitched the eighth before Jason Creasy took the mound for the ninth and got the win.
"One thing I've noticed is what [Rodriguez] is doing in between starts," Power manager Michael Ryan said. "He had a really good start last time out in Charleston and the work he's putting in in-between starts is really showing, and for him to have results in the game with the way he's preparing is key for him."
The Power (11-15) took the lead in the first when Barrett Barnes came in from third on a failed attempt by Greensboro to end the inning on a double play, but squandered a chance to do more damage in the inning after loading the bases with no outs. Allie hit an infield fly, Josh Bell was put out at second on the failed double play attempt that allowed Barnes to score, and Herrera was called out at home to end the inning. Grasshoppers starting pitcher Mason Hope settled down from there and finished having allowed just two hits in 42/3 innings of work.
"We only scored one when we had them on the ropes," Ryan said. "Credit Hope for getting out of it. It seemed he had to momentum after that."
Greensboro (11-15) answered in the third when Yeison Hernandez reached on an error by West Virginia shortstop Max Moroff and scored one batter later when Juancito Martinez launched a ball over Barnes' head in center for a standup triple. The Grasshoppers were at it again in the fifth with Matt Juengel scoring on a groundout by Tony Caldwell. Juengel also tripled and would later score in the seventh inning.
The teams will meet again today at 7:05 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park.
Barnes left the game in the seventh inning after hustling to reach base on what turned out to be an error by Grasshoppers third baseman Juengel. Barnes was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the 2012 supplemental draft and is regarded as one of the better prospects in the club's minor league system. Ryan said it was a hamstring injury and that the team would know more about how much time Barnes would miss today.
"We don't know the extent of it yet," Ryan said. "[Barnes] will not be playing tomorrow. We'll see how it reacts as far as the length of time he'll be out with soreness and bruising and stuff like that."
Barnes has appeared in nine games for the Power this season and had yet to heat up. He had nine hits in 38 at-bats with no home runs, three RBIs and eight strikeouts.
Reach Tom Bragg at email@example.com.