Singer, Power earn win over BlueClaws
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Alen Hanson singled to lead off the fifth inning and two batters later Gregory Polanco brought him in with another single for what proved to be the game-winning run in West Virginia's 4-3 Memorial Day win against the visiting Lakewood BlueClaws on Monday.
"(Hanson and Polanco are) tremendous offensive players," Power Manager Rick Sofield said. "When the game is on the line or good things are happening everybody is excited around here when Hanson or Polanco are on base or at the dish."
Lakewood (19-31) opened the scoring in the second. Harold Martinez started the inning by getting hit by a pitch, followed by West Virginia starting pitcher Zach Dodson surrendering a walk to Maikel Franco. Dodson retired Kyrell Hudson before walking Brian Pointer and allowing Bob Stumpo to collect an RBI with a sacrifice fly. Hudson got an RBI of his own in the third when he singled in Alejandro Villalobos for the game's second run.
The Power (16-35) got on the scoreboard in the fourth when Kirk Singer took a two-out, two-strike pitch to the outfield to score Jose Osuna and Dan Gamache. Later in the inning Francisco Diaz hit a sacrifice fly to score Junior Sosa to give West Virginia a 3-2 lead.
"Singer got a big hit with two outs and two strikes," Sofield said. "He's a hard worker and he's got a plan when he comes to the dish. He doesn't panic and tries to stay within himself. He is solid with guys in scoring position because he doesn't try to do too much."
Dodson (1-4) lasted 42/3 innings and did not factor in the decision, striking out four and allowing the two runs (one earned) while walking three. Sofield said he liked Dodson's stuff but would like it even more if he were able to work ahead in the count more often.
"He was behind in the count a lot and used up his pitches early," Sofield said. "He started getting in to a rhythm but with his pitch count he had to come out of the game. Hopefully he learns to economize (his pitches) early and can stay in longer. His stuff's good enough to keep guys at bay for a long time."
Vincent Payne relieved Dodson with two outs in the fifth inning and promptly struck out Lakewood's Brian Pointer to end the inning. Dodson, who got the win for West Virginia, struck out three in two and one-third innings of work.
The one hit her surrendered was a home run to the BlueClaw's Aaron Altherr deep over the left field fence to make it a one-run game.
"Giving up a home run sucks, but a solo one is better than giving one up after two walks and a booted ground ball," Sofield said.
Robert Kilcrease took the ball when Payne's evening on the mound was finished and held the BlueClaw bats at bay for the final two innings. Kilcrease allowed one hit and walked one batter in addition to striking out two. He also got some help from his defense in the ninth inning.
Villalobos led off the final frame for Lakewood and smacked what looked to be a sure foul ball deep down the third base line. Sosa, the Power's left fielder, broke on the ball and had to stretch, flipping over the wall part of the way in to the stands, to record the first out of the inning. Kilcrease got the final two Lakewood batters to ground out to end the game and secured West Virginia's third win in its last 11 games.
"We're a young club that's trying to figure this out," Sofield said. "A lot of guys are trying to do too much when it comes their turn and it just ruins the recipe. Sosa makes a very good catch to get one that sometimes we don't get and helps Kilcrease go back (for the final two outs)."
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IF THE POWER hopes to participate in the South Atlantic League playoffs this season, it will have to come by winning the Northern Division in the second half of the season. West Virginia's 16-35 record has the team trailing first-place Greensboro (36-14) by 20.5 games in the standings.
West Virginia only has 19 games remaining before the mid-June All-Star break, meaning that if the Power won all of its remaining games and Greensboro were to lose all 20 of its remaining game then West Virginia would have a record of 35-35 while Greensboro would be 36-34 and still ahead of the Power in the standings.
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THE BLUECLAWS and Power play the second of their three-game series at Appalachian Power Park today with the first pitch schedule for 7:05 p.m. The teams finish the series on Wednesday before the Power hits the road to make room for this week's State Tournament that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.