West Virginia Power's Josh Bell slides home safely ahead of the tag of Greenville catcher Jordan Weems in the first game of the twin bill.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The first game of Wednesday's South Atlantic League doubleheader at Appalachian Power Park set up as a kids' day.However, it was Mother Nature in charge. Her, and West Virginia Power players Josh Bell and Francisco Diaz.After a rainy morning game that was first delayed then, at times, played through mist, the host Power muddled past Greenville by a 7-3 count before a sparse crowd."It was a long one," said Power manager Michael Ryan. "Tough conditions."In the nightcap, the Power completed the sweep, holding on for a 7-6 win, evening its record at 16-16 and knocking the Drive (10-22) deeper into the cellar in the SAL South.The Power claimed the first game behind a pitching trio of Clay Holmes, Thomas Harlan and closer Kyle Haynes. Harlan was credited with his first victory in two scoreless innings. Holmes, the starter, surrendered six hits, three runs and three walks. He's been named by Baseball America as the Pittsburgh Pirates' 10th-best prospect."He did a nice job in the conditions," Ryan said. "He didn't have his location, but he did a nice job."So did Bell, one of the most celebrated Power players, rated as the Pirates sixth-best prospect. He went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and a pair of RBIs. In the sixth inning, Bell, a lefty, crushed a Yunior Ortega pitch over the right field wall."It was a fastball in," Bell said.
Bell, 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, said he's fully recovered from meniscus surgery performed last season. The second-round pick also has benefited from his place in the lineup - in front of cleanup hitter Stetson Allie, who entered the game second in the SAL in homers and slugging percentage."It's awesome to have [Allie] there," Bell said. "He's probably the best batter in the league. I'm seeing a lot of pitches."Diaz, the team catcher, sparked a four-run third inning that propelled the Power. After one run was walked in, Diaz produced a bloop to short right with the bases loaded. Bell hustled home behind Allie. Diaz finished the game 2 for 2 with three RBIs."The thing about Frankie is when he's in the lineup, he always helps," Ryan said. "He takes it serious. He's just a baseball player."
Greenville scored a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to cut the Power lead to 4-3, but West Virginia added one in the bottom of the frame and two more in the sixth on Bell's homer.The game included 14 bases on balls in the seven innings. Cody Kukuk (2-3) took the loss for Greenville after surrendering four runs and six of those walks.
Aneury Tavarez (2 for 4) was the only Drive player to collect multiple hits.In the second game, the Power was cruising, holding a 7-0 lead going into the seventh and final inning behind the mound work of Joely Rodriguez (2-2), who held the Drive to no runs on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Then things started to unravel for West Virginia.Josh Smith was called on to wrap things up, and the Power reliever seemed to do just that, striking out Greenville's Kevin Mager with one runner on base for what should have been the final out of a shutout win.But the third strike got past Power catcher Wyatt Mathisen, allowing Mager to reach safely on what was ruled a wild pitch. That opened the floodgates for Greenville, which followed with an RBI single, a two-run double and another run-scoring single, cutting the Power's lead to 7-4.Then, after a stolen base and a walk, both Greenville runners advance on defensive indifference. Cody Corback's single to right scored both runners, and the Power's lead was down to a single run, 7-6.
It ended there, though, when Bryton Trepagnier replaced Smith and retired Drew Turocy on a grounder.The Power scored its runs in bunches, getting four in the second inning and three in the fifth. D.J. Crumlich had hits in both big innings for West Virginia.The doubleheader sweep gave the Power a 6-1 record on the just-completed homestand. The team has a four-game series starting tonight at Lexington, followed by three at Hickory before returning home to face Lexington in the first of four games against the Legends on May 16.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.