The Power has been searching for a spark to right its second-half malaise and nearly got it Thursday night, winding up one strike short.
Cody Dickson worked 4 2/3 strong innings and the Power ripped seven hits in four innings off Greensboro starter Ryan Newell to take a 3-0 lead before the South Atlantic League game was suspended by rain in the top of the fifth at Appalachian Power Park.
The game is set to resume at 6:05 p.m. today, and the teams will play a seven-inning game after that.
Actually, West Virginia was just one strike shy of grabbing a win.
Dickson had a 3-2 count on No. 9 hitter Coco Johnson with a runner at first and two out when the rains intensified as the Grasshoppers batted in the top of the fifth. Another strike or out would have meant an official game, with the home team leading after 4 1/2 innings.
“Dickson was pitching real good,’’ said Power infielder JaCoby Jones. “He had a great start for us, and we were putting up some runs and good hits against them. But that’s what happens.’’
If not for a couple bad breaks, the Power might have wrapped up the win on Thursday.
Just before the rains picked up, time was called as both Dickson and catcher Reese McGuire appeared to be stretching out pulled muscles. (The teams played in a light rain starting in the top of the fourth.) After about three or four minutes of checking by trainers, they got the go-ahead to resume. Then the big rains hit.
Once the umpires signaled for a delay, the grounds crew experienced a snag in rolling out the tarp about halfway through the process and had to retreat and start over. By the time they got the infield covered, a lot of water had pooled on the diamond.
Following a 26-minute delay, the umpires and managers met and decided to suspend the game.
The rains came at a bad time for the Power (10-11), which was humming along Thursday despite having lost nine of its last 11.
Dickson (4-8, 4.59 ERA) allowed just three singles in his stint, with three strikeouts and two walks. He held Chad Wallach (.347) and Avery Romero (.333) — two of the league’s top four hitters — to a combined 0 of 4.
Meanwhile, Power hitters were ripping the offerings of Newell (8-6, 3.24).
Michael Fransoso smoked a leadoff homer over the right-field wall in the first. Jones and Edwin Espinal stroked RBI singles in the third. Jones had two hits and a stolen base in two at-bats.
In the field, the Power had no errors, turned a 6-4-3 double play to close out the second and McGuire cut down a runner trying to steal second.
Jones said even though the Power missed a chance to rack up a “W” on Thursday, the team might use the sharp effort as a springboard.
“I think we’ve been playing well the second half,’’ he said, “and that’s helped a lot. Dickson has been pitching real well for us the second half — all of our pitchers have.
“I feel we’re a different team than we were in the first half, and we can carry this momentum on to each and every game. I think it’s helping.’’
Greensboro (14-7), the first-half champion in the Northern Division, also entered the game tied for the second-half lead. The Grasshoppers have won nine of their last 12 and own a 19-8 mark against the Power over the past two seasons.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.