The West Virginia Power was back in first place -- for a few hours, anyway.
After defeating High Point 7-6 in the first game of a doubleheader, the Power dropped the second to the Rockers 7-3 Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park, leaving West Virginia a game behind High Point in the South Atlantic League North Division second-half standings.
High Point's Michael Russell drove in nine runs in the two games, going 3 for 4 with a single, double and triple with five RBIs in the opener and pairing that with another 3-for-4 performance in the nightcap with a double, two home runs and four RBIs.
The battle for first place continues when the Power hosts High Point in single games Wednesday and Thursday, both scheduled for 7:05 p.m. starts at Appalachian Power Park.
High Point takes a 23-13 record into Wednesday's game, while the Power sits at 22-14.
Game 1 -- Power 7, Rockers 6: A five-run fourth inning catapulted West Virginia to a win that pulled the Power even with High Point.
The five runs in the bottom of the fourth erased High Point’s 5-2 lead and made a winner of Power starter Joe Testa (3-3), who threw five innings and allowed five runs on five hits but settled down after a shaky first two innings.
The Rockers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI double by Russell, but the Power answered in the bottom of the frame with two runs, driven in by Jimmy Paredes’ single and Olmo Rosario’s double.
High Point reclaimed the lead with four runs in the top of the second, with the major blow being Russell’s bases-loaded triple. But after the rocky start, Testa kept the Rockers off the board over the next three innings.
The Power’s fourth-inning explosion came off High Point starter Bryce Hensley (6-9). With one out, West Virginia’s Elmer Reyes got the rally started with a single and moved to third on a double by Yovan Gonzalez. Connor Kopach’s sacrifice fly scored Reyes, and Gonzalez came home on a double by Teodoro Martinez that cut High Point’s lead to 5-4.
After an intentional walk to Alberto Callaspo, Paredes hit an RBI double to score Martinez and tie the game at 5. Rymer Liriano followed with another two-bagger, scoring Callaspo and Paredes to give the Power a 7-5 advantage.
High Point made it a one-run game again in the top of the sixth. With two outs and runners on second and third against Power reliever Luis Guzman, Russell drove in his fifth run of the game with a single to center to make it 7-6, but Power center fielder Nate Easley’s throw home to catcher Gonzalez was in time to nail High Point’s Johnny Field, who was attempting to score the tying run.
After the Power went down in the bottom of the sixth, Mike Broadway recorded his team-best eighth save for the Power, but not without some difficulty.
A single and a walk put two High Point runners on base with one out, but the Rockers’ James McOwen lined out to Power shortstop Kopach, who flipped to Reyes at shortstop for a game-ending double play.
Game 2 -- Rockers 7, Power 3: High Point jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the nightcap and cruised to the win.
Russell homered in the top of the first for the game's first run and added a two-run shot in the fourth to make it 7-0.
All the Power's runs came on Kopach's three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth.
Neil Uskali (2-1) got the win for High Point while West Virginia starter Junior Figueroa (2-6) took the loss.
Batting race update: West Virginia's Callaspo supplanted Power teammate Martinez atop the Atlantic League's list of batting leaders.
Callaspo went 1 for 3 in the first game and 2 for 4 in the second to finish the night at .360 on the season. Martinez was 1 for 4 in game one and 0 for 2 in game two and checks in at .359.
Russell's big night for High Point upped his batting average to .379 but he still remains short of the necessary plate appearances to qualify for the league leadership.