W.Va. Power shut out on opening night
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Opening day for the West Virginia Power at Appalachian Power Park had just about everything the fans could ask for Thursday night.
Fans looking for freebies were treated to a free Power magnet schedule giveaway for the first 2,500 through the gate. The fact it came on a popular Thirsty Thursday satisfied those fans looking for specials on beer prices and a special fireworks display was scheduled.
And then there was baseball, and weather issues.
For the first time in seven months, fans were able to watch the team but there wasn't much to see as the Power was shutout 3-0 by Asheville in a game played through a driving rain storm.
A crowd of 2,693 was announced but only a couple hundred stayed throughout, as temperatures dropped 15 degrees and the rain never stopped.
"It was a tough night," Power Manager Michael Ryan said. "We appreciate our fans for sticking through it. It's tough to watch on a night like that with the rain and cold. I wish we could have played a better game for them but we will bounce back (today)."
The Power bats were stymied all night, as four different Asheville pitchers held West Virginia to just two hits. The Tourists struck out 14 on the night.
"It was tough conditions but you have to credit the Asheville pitching," Ryan said. "They pounded the strike zone and we chased a little bit and got out of our hitting zone. You have to tip your cap to them. They pitched a great game and outplayed us."
Asheville starter Eddie Butler did the most damage to the Power, allowing one hit in 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Roberto Padilla, Rayan Gonzalez and Raul Fernandez combined to finish the shutout.
"You have to tip your hat to (Butler)," Ryan said. "He is very difficult to hit and has a bright future. I was very impressed by him. He had a very tight slider mixed and matched with his off-speed and his fastball. It was tough conditions and that guy is tough to hit off on any night."
Butler was proud of his accomplishments and the rest of the Tourists pitchers.
"It's a good feeling," Butler said. "I had some fun out there tonight. I pounded the strike zone, got some ground balls, and got some good plays behind me. I'm not much of a strikeout guy. I usually get a lot of groundballs."
Butler, a Chesapeake, Va. native who went to Radford University, didn't seem bothered by the sloppy conditions and felt at home.
"I am kind of used it," Butler said. "In Radford, it is cold, chilly and windy. It doesn't feel good to a batter. It helped out. I had a home field advantage feel to it. It worked out well."
After several opportunities were squandered by both teams in the early going, Asheville was finally able to put the first runs of the game and season on the board in the fifth inning.
After Power starter Joely Rodriguez struck out the first two batters, Jason Stolz walked and Juan Ciriaco doubled. A wild pitch gave Asheville a 1-0 lead and a run-scoring single by Kyle Von Tungeln gave the Tourists a 2-0 advantage.
Julian Yan added an insurance run in the sixth to give Asheville a 3-0 lead and its lead was never threatened.
The only hits of the game for the Power came from designated hitter Walker Gourley in the third inning and another single by Josh Bell in the sixth. Cleanup hitter Stetson Allie struck out all four times he batted.
Contact sportswriter Chris Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1735.