Normally, when the calendar hits mid-September and the temperatures start to cool, the minor-league baseball season in Charleston is usually finished.
For the West Virginia Power, the 2021 season is just heating up. An Atlantic League playoff berth is very much there for the taking, starting Tuesday with a doubleheader to kick off a four-game series against the High Point Rockers at Appalachian Power Park.
High Point sits in first place in the Atlantic League’s South Division second-half standings with a 22-13 record, just one game ahead of the Power (21-14). Tuesday’s doubleheader, with two seven-inning games starting at 5:05 p.m., could go a long way toward determining which team will face first-half winner Lexington in the best-of-three South Division playoffs.
That’ll be followed by single games Wednesday and Thursday, with both starting at 7:05 p.m.
During the Power’s previous membership in the Major League Baseball-affiliated Class A South Atlantic League, the 140-game regular season would start in early April and wrap up in early September.
In this the Power’s inaugural season in the independent Atlantic League, the start of the season was pushed back to May 28, and the schedule — normally 140 games — was reduced to 120 games. Still, to fulfill that condensed schedule, the league’s regular season won’t conclude until Oct. 10, with the playoffs to follow.
High Point holds the upper hand on West Virginia in 2021, posting an 11-6 record against the Power, including a 6-3 mark during the second half of the schedule.
In addition to the battle for first place, the Power also has two players involved in a fight for the league batting title. The team’s two top hitters, Teodoro Martinez and Alberto Callaspo, have been engaged in a summer-long battle for the top spot.
Heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader, Martinez is hitting a league-leading .363 (120 for 331) in 85 games while Callaspo is right behind him in second place at .358 (92 for 257) in 76 games.
Martinez, the Power’s left-fielder and leadoff hitter, has turned it up a notch in September. He’s 22 for 49 (.449) for the month and is 14 for 28 (.500) during his current six-game hitting streak.
Callaspo, who plays third base and bats second in the Power lineup, is 16 for 47 (.340) in September.
High Point’s leading hitter is first baseman Jerry Downs, who’s hitting .319 with team highs of 17 home runs and 66 RBIs. Rocker third baseman Michael Russell is hitting .363, same as Martinez, but in only 52 games and does not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the league-leader boards.
After this week’s four-game series, the Power has just one more crack at the Rockers — a three-game series set for Sept. 24-26 at High Point, North Carolina.