By DEREK REDD
DAILY MAIL SPORTSWRITER
With one out in the top of the eighth inning, the Lexington Legends had pounded out 10 hits, yet had nothing to show for them. Their 11th changed all that.
Fred Ford launched a two-run home run over the left field wall at Appalachian Power Park on Thursday night, giving the Legends a 2-0 win over the Power and spoiling West Virginia’s home opener.
The two teams split a four-game series last week in Lexington.
It was the first time that West Virginia had been held scoreless this season. The Power had scored at least two runs in each of its first seven games.
“I think we hit some balls hard,” Power manager Michael Ryan said. “They pitched well. You have to tip your hat to them. They have such a good pitching team with timely offense. (Luis) Rico and (Andrew) Edwards did an unbelievable job of locating their fastball and mixing off-speed.
“They limited us from getting the big hit,” he added. “We had some guys on and just couldn’t get anything across.”
Ford’s bomb, his second of the young season, off right-handed reliever Justin Topa also scored right fielder Elier Hernandez. The Power (3-5) couldn’t match the Legends (4-4) in volume of hits or runs. Lexington starter Rico and reliever Edwards combined to pitch a five-hit shutout.
Ford said the early innings were frustrating, as the Legends couldn’t put a runner across the plate. The wait, he added, was worth it.
“We couldn’t catch a break early,” Ford said, “but it’s a persistent group.”
The Power had a chance to answer in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases on Edwards. But with two outs, designated hitter Wyatt Mathisen hit a grounder back to Edwards, that out keeping West Virginia off the board. The Power stranded 10 base-runners Thursday night, and went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
The Legends also stranded 10 and went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Both Rico and West Virginia starter Buddy Borden had short, but solid outings. Borden, who gave up three runs in four innings in a no-decision Saturday in Lexington, pitched five scoreless innings Thursday, giving up six hits while striking out four and walking one.
“He did phenomenal,” Ryan said of Borden. “In-out, mixing in his off-speed, he controlled the game. When there were some defensive lapses behind him, it didn’t bother him. He just made the next pitch and got our defense involved.”
West Virginia committed three errors Thursday night.
Rico, touched for six runs, five earned, in three innings last Friday versus the Power, went four innings Thursday. He fanned two and walked three while giving up four hits. Edwards (1-0) picked up the win for Lexington, with Topa (0-1) tagged for the loss.
Both teams had their chances to put runs on the board early.
West Virginia loaded the bases in the second inning with two outs. Erich Weiss doubled down third-base line. After a ground out by first baseman Edwin Espinal, Rico walked center fielder Justin Maffei, a passed ball moved Maffei to second and Rico then walked Candon Myles.
Third baseman Adam Landecker ripped a shot to right-center field, but second baseman Ramon Torres plucked it out of the air to end the inning.
The Legends loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth, thanks to consecutive singles by Hernandez, Ford and catcher Chad Johnson.
But Hernandez was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice and center fielder Alfredo Escalera grounded into a double play to end the threat.
The two teams face off again tonight at 7:05. Cody Dickson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Power against Matt Tenuta (0-1, 1.50 ERA).
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.