Josh Bell of the Power dives back to first base as Asheville's David Bergin mishandles the throw.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Power's playoff push took a hit Tuesday.The Power lost starting infielder Dilson Herrera, a South Atlantic League all-star this season, in a trade, but the players rallied around each other just as they have all year in claiming a 4-2 victory over Asheville. A paid crowd of 1,912 attended the South Atlantic League matchup at Appalachian Power Park.Jordan Steranka's two-run single in the bottom of the first sparked a three-run frame that gave the Power the lead for good and starting pitcher Jason Creasy and two relievers made it stand up."We responded really well,'' said Steranka. "It was kind of crushing news [losing Hererra]. He's a great player. The next guy has to step up and we've been doing that all summer.''
The Power moved one game ahead of Hagerstown for first place in the Northern Division with six games left in the season's second half. The Suns lost 6-5 at home to Lakewood.West Virginia will earn an automatic bid into the postseason if it wins the division. If Hagerstown takes the Northern Division title, there will be a wild-card spot available since the Suns also won the first-half championship.The wild card would go to the second-place team with the best overall record. West Virginia (77-57) holds a four-game edge over Hickory (73-61). The Crawdads lost 9-5 Tuesday at Greensboro. If the Power and Crawdads finish with identical regular-season records, Hickory owns the tiebreaker based on winning the season series 4-3 against the Power.The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Herrera and a player to be named later to the New York Mets on Tuesday in exchange for outfielder Marlon Byrd, catcher John Buck and cash considerations. Herrera hit .265 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs for the Power.
"It was a tough day for us, but a good response,'' said Power manager Michael Ryan. "We know he's going on to some good things and we're nothing but happy for him."We'll rotate some guys [in the infield]. We'll just try to fill in as best as we can. When a guy's banged up or not here someone needs to step up. They thrive on that. We'll be just fine.'' The Power started Tuesday's game with four straight singles and took a 3-0 lead. Steranka hit a grounder with the bases loaded that took a bad hop on Asheville second baseman Zach Osborne and plated two runners, and Raul Fortunato added a run-scoring groundout for a 3-0 lead.The Tourists closed to 3-2 on Dillon Thomas' RBI in the second and Jason Stolz's run-scoring single in the fourth. Creasy and relievers Ryan Hafner and Jhondaniel Medina blanked Asheville over the final five innings.Jimmy Rider, West Virginia's No. 9 hitter who went 2 for 3, added a one-out, run-scoring single in the seventh and Walker Gourley hooked a leadoff solo home run just inside the left-field foul pole to close out the scoring in the eighth.Creasy (5-4) earned the win, surrendering just two earned runs on six hits in seven innings with two strikeouts and no walks. Hafner fired one scoreless inning while Medina earned his 12th save, fanning the final batter after putting runners on first and second with a single and hit batsman.The Power's final homestand continues at 7:05 tonight against Asheville.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.