It’s never as bad as it seems, especially at the end of April.
This time last year the West Virginia Power was scuffling, and how did that turn out? When all was said and done the Power won the division in the second half and qualified for the postseason.
The Hagerstown Suns scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning Friday night to hand the Power its fifth straight loss, a 7-5 setback. A paid crowd of 1,167 attended the South Atlantic League matchup at Appalachian Power Park.
The Power (7-13) had plenty of fight, but just couldn’t seem to get the clutch hit or play it needed.
West Virginia tied the game at 4-all in the bottom of the sixth on Reese McGuire’s run-scoring single that dropped just inside the left-field line between the Suns third baseman, left fielder and center fielder.
Hagerstown (16-5), though, took the lead for good in the top of the ninth, plating a run with two outs for a 5-4 edge on Power shortstop JaCoby Jones’ error. Jones stopped the grounder but couldn’t get a grasp on the ball and never made a throw. Hagerstown’s Drew Ward then laced a two-run single for a 7-4 cushion.
The Power again showed resistance in the bottom of the ninth, pulling within 7-5 on Candon Myles’ RBI single off the right-field wall. West Virginia eventually loaded the bases with one out, but Jones and Weiss each struck out to end the threat.
“It’s not as bad as what everybody thinks,’’ said Power manager Michael Ryan. “We’re playing good baseball, we’re just getting beat. The only thing we have to do is execute and we’ll be fine.
“We were bad this time last year too so there’s no concern. We’re competing with the best club in the league and we’re hanging in there. We know we can play. It’s just a matter of doing the little things. It’s coming. No question, we’re close.’’
The Power grabbed a 3-1 lead after the first inning on Edwin Espinal’s two-run double and McGuire’s run-producing ground out. The Suns went up 1-0 in the top of the first. Hagerstown knotted it up at 3-3 on Craig Manuel’s two-out, two-run home run in the fourth, then went ahead in the sixth on Ward’s solo round-tripper.
Jones, Weiss, Myles and Wyatt Mathisen banged out two hits apiece as the Power finished with a dozen hits.
Power points: The Power will square off with the Suns again at 7:05 tonight. Right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas (2-0, 3.00 ERA) will take the mound for West Virginia while Hagerstown will counter with righty Nick Pivetta (2-5, 5.40). ... The first 1,000 fans will receive a replica of the Pirates 1979 World Series Championship ring. ... Omar Moreno and Watt Powell will be inducted into the Wall of Fame, with Moreno making a guest appearance.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.