A five-run ninth inning by the Hickory Crawdads closed to the door on a late Power rally, as West Virginia fell 11-6 Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park. A crowd of 1,026 attended.
The Power’s JaCoby Jones connected for a three-run blast in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 6, but Hickory’s Ronald Guzman and Evan Van Hoosier each drove in a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to hand West Virginia its third consecutive loss.
“The momentum was on our side. Once they put up five runs in the top of the ninth, all momentum shifted back to their side,” said Power left fielder Jeff Roy. “It’s kind of a downer, but tomorrow is another day and we have two more games against them.”
Hickory (11-2) came into the game leading the South Atlantic League North Division.
The Crawdads’ Ryan Cordell and Kellin Deglan both homered off Power starter Luis Heredia in the fifth to help their team to a 5-2 lead through five innings, but the Power kept chipping away. A run in the sixth (after single tallies in the fourth and fifth) cut it back to 5-3.
The Crawdads were able to put up another run in the seventh after Hickory’s Lewis Brinson walked and later scored on single by Jairo Beras, giving Hickory a 6-3 advantage.
After Power reliever Andy Otamendi was able to retire the side in the top of the eighth, West Virginia (8-5) started to generate some momentum. Edwin Espinal and Erich Weiss recorded back-to-back singles before Jones took an 0-1 pitch over the left-center wall to tie the game at 6.
“The momentum shifted after we got two big knocks by Espinal and Weiss and JaCoby coming up and putting a good swing on the ball brought us back into the game,” said Roy.
The Power’s Henry Hirsch took the hill in the top of the ninth, but immediately found himself in trouble.
Hickory’s Joe Jackson singled to lead off the inning and Hirsch walked Cordell and Brinson to load the bases. After striking out Deglan, Hirsch walked Beras to score Jackson and give the Crawdads’ a one-run lead. Guzman then singled up the middle to bring in Cordell and Brinson, and Van Hoosier tripled to deep center field to bring around Beras and Guzman, sealing the victory.
“It was one of those nights where our hitting was there, our pitching was there in the beginning, but we couldn’t get out of that ninth inning,” said Roy. “But you just gotta stay positive. We have a lot of games left, we’re still over .500 in the second half. It’s not always about results, but how you respond to it.”
Hickory reliever Josh McElwee (2-0) picked up the win, while Hirsch (1-4) took the loss for the Power. The two teams continue their series tonight at APP starting at 7:05. Taking the mound for the Power will be Buddy Borden (3-5, 3.71 ERA).
West Virginia’s Harold Ramirez finished 2 for 4, extending his hitting-streak to 23 games, breaking Asheville’s Pat Valaika’s South Atlantic League season-best of 22 games.