CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest and worship for Christians, who typically attend church services in the morning and evening.
But that can be difficult for Victor Black and other minor league baseball players, who usually are traveling, practicing or playing on the Lord's Day.
"I look at it like this: God has given me baseball as a blessing," said Black, a 22-year-old pitching prospect who spent three years at Dallas Baptist University before the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him last summer.
"This is how He made me. This is who He made me to be. In a sense, if I can't make it to church, this is my way of worshipping Him on another stage that I have."
Black made his South Atlantic League debut Sunday afternoon, allowing three runs on two hits in four innings to help the West Virginia Power open its four-game home stand with an 8-4 win over the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds.
A larger-than-normal Appalachian Power Park crowd of 3,589 watched the 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander strike out seven batters, walk two and hit one.
"It was a blast," said Black, who is from Amarillo, Texas. "The fans ... it blew me away. I wasn't ready for it. There were quite a few of them. They seemed right at home with me.
"I was walking off the field after the start and four or five people called me by my name and told me good job. It was awesome. It definitely made me feel at home."
Black allowed only two hits, but one of them was a three-run homer by Tyler Kolodny that gave the Shorebirds (17-19) a short-lived 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
Aaron Baker delivered a two-run single in the home half of the same frame to keep Black from losing his inaugural performance with the Pirates' low Class A affiliate.
Rogelio Noris followed with a three-run homer, which capped a five-run inning for the Power (16-20).
Black made the mistake of throwing a changeup - his third-best pitch - to Kolodny.
"It isn't my best pitch, and I shouldn't have done it," said Black, whose fastball ranges between 92 and 96 mph and whose slider ranges between 82 and 84 mph. "Other than that, it was good. The run support was awesome, especially in the five-run inning."
Black didn't figure in the decision.