After getting swept at home in a three-game series against Kannapolis, the West Virginia Power welcomed the Hagerstown Suns to town, hoping to end their losing skid.
That didn’t happen, though, as Hagerstown continued the recent woes of the Power, earning a 7-5 South Atlantic League victory at Appalachian Power Park Thursday evening.
Hagerstown (15-5) jumped on the Power (7-12) right away, plating two runs in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter, Isaac Ballou, a 2013 Marshall graduate, singled to start things off for the Suns.
Also, an error on the play by Power left fielder Candon Myles allowed Ballou to get to second base, and with one out, Drew Ward singled in the game’s first runner.
Defense didn’t do Power starting pitcher Cody Dickson any favors, committing two more errors in the first inning for a total of three, giving the Suns a 2-0 early lead.
Ballou, a 24-year old outfielder, was happy to back at Appalachian Power Park, where Marshall played a majority of its home games.
“It is definitely fun and brought back some memories for sure,” Ballou said. “I played here for four years at Marshall. It is a little different being on the third base side instead of first base. Other than that, it was pretty cool. I liked it.”
It wasn’t the first time Ballou played at Appalachian Power Park against the Power. He joined the Suns late in the season last year, playing six regular season games. Hagerstown beat the Power in a playoff game.
“We played the Power in the first game of the playoffs, and beat them here,” Ballou said. “I hit like .111 in the regular season and then the playoffs I did pretty well. I got a taste of it.
“For me personally, I just want to compete and bring it every single day, and don’t get caught up in my stats.”
This season, Ballou has played in 18 games, and is hitting .282. He has 22 hits, including two against the Power on Thursday night.
Ballou had three doubles, three triples, a home run, and 11 RBI.
Leading 3-1, the Suns were able to tack on three runs in the fourth inning to seize control. The first three Hagerstown batters (Willie Medina, Bautista, and Ballou) singled to get things going.
With one out, Drew Ward singled in two runs and another run scored on a wild pitch, giving Hagerstown a commanding 6-1 lead, signaling the end of the day for Dickson.
“It is awesome,” Ballou said. “Obviously you don’t want to be behind.
“You want to set the tone pretty early. In baseball, momentum swings pretty quickly. If you can score first, sometimes it picks up and carries on.”
The Suns tacked on a run in the fifth inning on another solo home run, this time by Craig Manuel, and looked like they might be on cruise control, but the Power tried to mount a comeback.
The Power got four runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning to cut the Hagerstown deficit to 7-5. Jacoby Jones led off with a double, Erich Weiss singled, and Edwin Espinal doubled in the first run of the inning.
Reese McGuire followed with a sacrifice fly, and with two outs, Danny Collins doubled in a run, and Francisco Diaz added a RBI single to all of a sudden cut the Suns lead down to two.
The score remained 7-5 in favor of Hagerstown when the Power had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Espinal led off with a single, and then an error on the shortstop allowed McGuire to reach.
With runners on first and second with nobody out, Wyatt Mathisen attempted a sacrifice bunt but couldn’t get it down, striking out.
Collins grounded out to third base, setting up runners on second and third with two outs, but the Power couldn’t get the clutch hit to possibly tie the game when Diaz grounded out to third for the third out of the inning.
Jacoby Jones led the way with three hits for the Power.
Game 2 of the four game series between the two teams in Friday night, where Ballou will hope for more moments like in Hagerstown’s win on Thursday.
“It was awesome,” Ballou said. “I even had some WVU fans say good job. That was pretty cool. It is very special to come back here and play, and it is something I will always cherish.”