Dilson Herrera (right) is congratulated by Power teammate Josh Bell after smashing a solo home run in the first inning.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston has been celebrating the state's 150th birthday all week, and on Friday night West Virginia outfielder Barrett Barnes gave baseball fans in the city even more celebration material.The highly touted prospect erupted in his 20th game with the team, hitting his first two home runs of the season in back-to-back at-bats in back-to-back innings while driving in six runs as West Virginia slugged its way to a 11-7 comeback win over Lakewood in front of 2,870 fans at Appalachian Power Park.Barnes has dealt with injury problems all season, straining an oblique in spring training and pulling a hamstring just a few games after his return to West Virginia.With his six RBIs, Barnes more than doubled his total for the season from 5 to 11 and raised his batting average from .234 to .256.
"Today was a good day," Barnes said. "I've been on and off the field with injuries and I haven't been able to compile a lot of at-bats or have a lot of games or get my timing down, but I'm back on the field now and I feel up to par and on time. I'm just starting to play baseball again."The Power trailed 5-3 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but Barnes' two-run blast to left field tied it and his three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth punctuated a six-run outburst that put West Virginia (1-1) ahead for good.Barnes' exploits came as part of a 10-hit effort that provided the Power with more than enough offense to avenge a 9-4 loss in the second-half opener on Thursday.Also deserving credit is Power reliever Bryton Trepagnier (2-2), who entered in the top of the fourth and sat down all nine Lakewood hitters he faced over three innings, picking up the win and a strikeout in the process. The Power is trying to avoid a slow start after such a beginning buried the team in the first half and not even a strong middle and end to the season could make up for it.West Virginia is also dealing with the loss of three of its best players from the first half in first baseman Stetson Allie and starting pitchers Joely Rodriguez and Orlando Castro.Even though Barnes wasn't with the team during its early struggles, he said the squad is poised and ready for big things."It's a good group of guys in here," Barnes said. "Big kudos to Stetson Allie, Joely Rodriguez and Castro getting called up to high-A. That was a big part of our puzzle. We're happy for those guys but we're going to try to step up, come together as a team and make up for what we lost with those three guys."It's a big family in here. It's just fun to play and it's easy to play here."All the offense and Trepagnier's effort masked a rough night for Power starter John Kuchno, who lasted just three innings, yielding five earned runs on six hits, two walks and two hit batsmen while striking out two.Lakewood reliever Geoff Broussard (2-2) was responsible for the backbreaking fifth inning, yielding all six earned runs on five hits in taking the loss.
The Power also scored in the fifth on an RBI double for D.J. Crumlich and a two-run single for Walker Gourley.Newcomer Jordan Steranka went 2 for 5 with an RBI after an 0-for-5 performance on Thursday while Josh Bell had a pair of hits and runs scored. Dilson Herrera started the scoring for West Virginia in the first with a solo blast to left field, his seventh homer of the year.West Virginia catcher Kawika Emsley-Pai walked three times and scored after each of them.Willie Carmona had two hits with a double and two RBIs to lead Lakewood (1-1).The teams will continue the four-game set at 7:05 tonight. The Power will send right-hander Tyler Glasnow (3-1, 2.83 ERA) to the mound. Lakewood will counter with lefty Yoel Antonio Mecias (4-2, 3.71).POWER POINTS: Right-hander Jason Creasy will assume the role of the Power's fifth starter and will pitch Monday against Hagerstown. He's 2-0 with a 3.92 ERA and three saves in 432/3 innings for West Virginia this season.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.