Three West Virginia Power pitchers sent 20 Rome Braves back to the dugout on strikes Sunday afternoon, but they couldn’t prevent their team from falling to 0-4.
The Braves capitalized on multiple wild pitches in the third inning and Anthony Concepcion singled in the 11th inning for a 2-1 victory to finish the season-opening sweep.
A crowd of 1,728 watched on a sun-splashed day at Appalachian Power Park.
Power starter Luis Escobar struck out 12 in just five innings, allowing only one hit, a walk and a hit batsman. Matt Frawley and Dylan Prohoroff combined to fan eight, allow five hits and walk none.
The 20 strikeouts were announced as a Power record, stretching back to the 2005 season. Records for the first 18 years of Charleston’s 31-year-old Class A era, when the team was known as the Charleston Wheelers or Alley Cats, generally are not kept.
The Power’s problems Sunday were twofold: Escobar threw in the dirt too much in the third and the home team struck out 17 times and left 10 on base.
Escobar’s problems began when his third strike bounced to the backstop, allowing Marcus Mooney to reach first base. Mooney took second on a passed ball by catcher Chris Harvey and two more wild pitches. All told, Escobar threw four wild pitches in the inning.
After all that, he struck out the next six. The odd stat: Of his 12 strikeouts, eight hit the dirt, forcing Harvey to clean up the outs.
“If we could just take care of the baseball in the third inning, they don’t even score and we win 1-0,” said manager Wyatt Toregas. “We scored a run in the first inning and that was the only run we got. I thought our pitchers did an excellent job today.”
The Power took its 1-0 lead by the third batter, as Albert Baur singled to left off 18-year-old Braves starter Ian Anderson. Victor Fernandez, who was hit by pitch and stole second, crossed the plate.
The Power had other chances, loading the bases in the second, but it did so with two outs. A simple fielder’s choice ended that inning.
The same thing happened in the sixth, but Rome reliever Tucker Davidson fanned Trae Albert to end the inning. The Power’s last, best chance came in the eighth, but Harvey lined into a double play with runners on first and second with one out.
“Don’t get me wrong. We had guys on base, but it was with two outs, so we’re asking for those big hits,” Toregas said. “What I would like to see more is getting something going from the start of the inning and not getting something started at the end of the inning.”
Rome finally took the lead off Prohoroff (0-1) with a simple one-run inning: Anfernee Seymour hit his second double, advanced on Derian Cruz’s single to the second and scored on Concepcion’s low liner between the first and second basemen. All that was left was for Jon Kennedy (1-0) to allow a two-out single in the bottom of the 10th and nothing more.
The Power stays at home in quest for its first victory, taking on the Asheville Tourists the next three nights. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.