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West Virginia Power: Holmes sharp, but team falls 3-0

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Memorial Day crowd of 2,458 was on hand on a beautiful early evening on Monday at Appalachian Power Park to root on the West Virginia Power.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much to cheer for the Power faithful.

The Power bats were silenced, while several crucial fielding errors doomed the team as well. It all added up to a Greensboro (21-28) 3-0 shutout victory.

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Power (28-23) and assured the team would not be able to earn its third consecutive series sweep.

Power Manager Michael Ryan was displeased with the effort, or lack thereof, of the team.

"It was just our effort. It was poor all day," Ryan said. "When you are going well, you are going to get a great effort from the opposing team, and you have to match it.

"Greensboro did a great job with their energy and did the things the right way. They did everything little that they were supposed to do to win this game, and we couldn't match their energy level. We just couldn't do it."

Power starting pitcher Clay Holmes deserved a better fate, as one of the top prospects in the Pirates organization threw one of his better games of the season.

Holmes, a ninth-round draft pick in the 2011 draft, came into the game with a 1-3 record and a 6.08 ERA, and was coming off a start on May 22 at Kannapolis when he pitched just four innings and surrendered five earned runs on eight hits.

Against Greensboro on Monday however, Holmes went five strong innings, only allowed three hits and one earned run. Power right fielder Josh Bell committed a two-base error, allowing a second unearned run to cross the plate for the Grasshoppers.

Holmes was pleased with his performance and said he hopes to build off it the next start he makes.

"It was one of my better outings," Holmes said. "I think I made some improvements today and I'll move on. There are some good and I just hope to bring it again next time. I'm on a pitch count so I hope to get my five innings and hopefully give my team a chance to win."

Holmes did just that, but didn't get any help from the Power bats, who had been tearing the cover off the ball during the team's winning streak. In five of those wins, the Power scored at least eight runs.

Monday, the Power could only muster three hits, a double from Bell in the fourth inning as well as an infield single from Max Moroff and a single from Bell in the eighth.

Power pitching coach Jim Johnson liked what he saw out of Holmes on Monday.

"I saw a big improvement," Johnson said. "In the past, we have made some adjustments and I thought we were on the right track, but the game sped him up. I could see him try to bring those to the game today. He did really good."

Johnson, along with Holmes, have been putting in the extra time, to try and get the standout pitcher back to the level he needs to reach.

"He's not afraid but at times he gets a little fast," Johnson said. "Today was a big improvement in that regard. He kept his tempo good. When he did have at bats that didn't go his way, he was able to regroup. In the beginning, he was trying to do too many things. We have simplified things."

Johnson is hoping Holmes' solid start Monday is a sign of things to come.

 "Today is definitely a day we needed to get him going," Johnson said. "He has seen it work now. There's some confidence involved, which helps. He will be really good in the second half for us. I think we are in a good spot."




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