The West Virginia Power scored seven of their eight runs with two outs Thursday night, and needed every last one of them.
Yovan Gonzalez hit a two-out grand slam to give the Power the lead for good in the sixth inning, Alberto Callaspo delivered a two-out, two-run single in the seventh and Dominic Bethancourt homered with two out in the eighth to lead the Power to an 8-7 win over the Lexington Legends at Appalachian Power Park, ending the team’s three-game losing streak, all at the hands of the Legends over the weekend.
The two-out lightning evened the Power’s record at 5-5 and made a winner of Arik Sikula (2-1), who won his second consecutive start after allowing three runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in six innings.
With Sikula on the hook for the loss and the Power trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Lexington starter Mike Hauschild struck out the first two batters before West Virginia rallied. A walk to Callaspo, Elmer Reyes’ double to left and another walk to Marcus Knetch loaded the bases for Gonzalez, who drove an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right-center to give the Power a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit lately, trying to get my rhythm back, so I was just looking for a pitch I could drive,” the Power catcher said of his first home run of the season.
“I was thinking of going oppo [to the opposite field] right there, and it worked out.”
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Power pinch-hitter Dante Peretti walked and moved to third on Jimmy Paredes’ double to left, setting up Callaspo’s two-out, two-run single up the middle to give West Virginia a 7-3 lead.
Lexington (7-4) was kept in the game by the long-ball exploits of Courtney Hawkins, who had a triple and a home run off Sikula and added a second round-tripper in the eighth inning off Power reliever Diego Moreno.
Bethancourt’s home run in the bottom of the eighth extended the Power’s lead to 8-4, but the Legends weren’t done. DJ Peterson’s three-run home run off reliever Hunter Cervenka cut the deficit to 8-7, but Cervenka closed out the win with a strikeout of cleanup hitter Keon Barnum, retiring Hawkins on a foul popup and getting the final out in a line drive to right fielder Knetch.
Power manager Mark Minicozzi said Jean Machi, who’s been the Power’s closer early this season (three saves), was unavailable due to soreness.
After Peterson’s home run, Minicozzi got Mike Broadway up in the bullpen but stuck with Cervenka.
“We had Broadway getting hot, but when [Cervenka] struck out Barnum, I felt confident that he could get the job done.”
Sikula was sharp early, striking out five of the first 12 batters he faced, yielding two runs in the fifth and Hawkins’ first home run in the sixth. He threw 107 pitches.
“I wasn’t as sharp the last couple of innings,” said Sikula, the former South Charleston and Hurricane standout. “I had a little blister forming on my foot, but I still battled and kept us in the game.”
Former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata started in right field and delivered an RBI double to give the Power a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, scoring Teodoro Martinez, who led off the inning with a double. But Tabata was removed from the game after the second inning.
“He’s been going through oblique problems,” Minicozzi said of Tabata. “He said he felt good during [batting practice], but when he got to third after his double, he said it felt a little tight, so we’ll shut him down for a couple of days.”
POWER POINTS: The Power and Legends play the middle game of their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. David Kubiak (0-0, 1.80 ERA) is the Power’s scheduled starter. ... The 6:05 p.m. start time will be the standard this season for the Power’s Tuesday home games, when the team dons Charleston Charlies uniforms. ... The announced attendance was 978.