Power drops home opener 2-0

By By Mike Whiteford
For the Gazette
KENNY KEMP | Gazette Power second baseman Erich Weiss looks to the umpire for the call after tagging out Lexington's Elier Hernandez at second.

The Power players’ most invigorating offering of the night was their double play that ended the sixth inning and allowed them to escape a bases-loaded, no-out mess.

It kept the scoreless duel intact and sent them scurrying to the dugout where they exchanged high-fives all around.

On offense, however, the Power accomplished little and the Lexington Legends, after stranding far too many runners, used Fred Ford’s two-run homer onto Smith Street in the eighth inning for a 2-0 victory Thursday night at Appalachian Power Park.

It was the ballpark’s 10th home opener and drew a crowd of 3,659 on a 70-degree night.

Ford, the Legends’ 6-foot-5 left fielder who’s familiar with Appalachian Power Park, enjoyed not only the game-winning blast but the lively surroundings.

“You had a great showing out here. The fans are interactive, so it’s a good place to play,’’ said Ford, who played for the Legends last year. “I get heckled a lot, but it’s a great atmosphere.’’

Likewise, Power manager Michael Ryan enjoyed atmosphere, if not the result.

“I loved it,’’ he said. “I wish the result could have been different to keep our fans coming out.’’

The Power totaled just five hits, including two in the infield, and committed three errors. The game ended on Adam Landecker’s fly to the right-field warning track with Justin Maffei on third.

“We just weren’t able to get the big hit. That’s all,’’ said Ryan.

The Legends stranded 10 runners through the first six innings, including their botched opportunity in the sixth when they loaded the bases on three straight singles. But when the Legends’ Ramon Torres stroked a line drive back to the mound, it bounced off Justin Topa’s leg. Toba recovered and threw home for a forceout. The Legends’ Alfredo Escalera then grounded to shortstop JaCoby Jones, who initiated a 6-4-3 double play.

The double play provided the Power with a brief psychological lift.

“It gave the whole team momentum,’’ said second baseman Erich Weiss. “It had us all going.’’

Said Ford, “We just couldn’t get that two-out knock we needed.

“We couldn’t catch a break early, but we’re a persistent group.’’

Weiss, a former University of Texas player who remembers West Virginia’s football victory over the Longhorns, sees a good season ahead for the Power.

“We play together,’’ he said. “Once we get rolling, it’s going to be hard to stop this team. This is a great team. There’s a bunch of games to be played, and this team is just going to get better.’’

Power starter Buddy Borden, a seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, continually escaped trouble through five innings, in which he allowed six hits and was the victim of two Power errors.

“We didn’t make some plays behind him,’’ said Ryan, “and that could have hurt. If he loses focus and doesn’t concentrate on the next pitch, it could have been a very ugly game. He pitched out of traffic all night.’’

POWER POINTS: The Power and Legends will play at 7:05 tonight and at 2:05 Saturday and Sunday afternoons. ... This is the Power’s sixth season as a Pirates club. The Charleston Wheelers spent nine years as a Reds club from 1990 through 1998. The city has also worked with the Cubs, Royals, Blue Jays and Brewers in its 28 seasons in the South Atlantic League. ... Wheeler Bob was on the job again, roaming the grandstand selling programs and souvenirs and telling jokes. He’s been doing it since 1974 with the Charlies, Wheelers, Alley Cats and Power.

Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhiteford@wvgazette.com.

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