CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The last thing the West Virginia Power wanted to do in its series finale against the Greensboro Grasshoppers was to turn it into an impromptu home run derby.
But that's what happened Wednesday morning, as the Grasshoppers launched four homers in the first three innings and five overall to sweep the three-game series with a 12-5 win at Appalachian Power Park.
Now the Power (28-25) heads back on the road for a four-game series with Lakewood trying to reclaim its mojo. That series sweep was West Virginia's first three-game losing streak since dropping three in Savannah on April 26-28.
"Just flip the page," Power Manager Mike Ryan said. "We ran into a team that was hot, just like Lakewood did with us. They just have to understand that, when you're doing well, you're going to get every team's best shot. You have to understand you have to do everything correctly to compete with a team that's giving you their 'A' game every night."
The problems began in the first inning, when Power starter Jake Burnette gave up a Yordy Cabrera grand slam over the left field-fence. That hit, with no outs in the first, came after a 12-pitch at-bat and gave the Grasshoppers (23-28) a 5-0 lead.
Ryan replaced Burnette with John Kuchno with one out in the first after Burnette gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits with two walks and a strikeout. It was the second time in four starts that Burnette was chased in the first. He was replaced with two down in that inning against Lexington on May 19 after he gave up six earned runs.
Kuchno was able to get the Power out of the first, but he was unable to keep the ball in the park in the third. The right-hander gave up three solo home runs in four at-bats - to Matt Juengel, Cameron Flynn and Michael Vaughn - in that inning to stretch Greensboro's lead to 8-0.
The Power got a run back on a Dilson Herrera RBI double in the bottom of the third, but Kuchno gave up an RBI double to Cody Keefer and an RBI single to Alfredo Lopez to make it 10-1. By the time West Virginia's bats came alive late in the game, including Josh Bell's seventh home run of the season in the seventh inning, the game was in Greensboro's hands. The Grasshoppers added a two-run homer from Jesus Solorzano off of Power lefty Thomas Harlan in the ninth.
After solid pitching through its seven-game winning streak, the Power gave up a total of 25 runs over three games versus the Grasshoppers. Power pitchers gave up seven home runs in those three games.
"We're not doing what we did when we were having success," Ryan said. "We weren't getting guys off the plate, mixing in our off-speed. We weren't getting ahead and that's a recipe for disaster, falling behind, especially against a team swinging the bat so well."
The Power have a pretty good shot at regaining momentum starting today with its four-game series at the Lakewood BlueClaws. West Virginia swept Lakewood in four games as part of that seven-game winning streak. Bell said the Power can get back on track by taking the lessons learned from the Greensboro series and remaining a tenacious group.
"We really want to be the team that other organizations hate to play," he said. "That's our way of doing it, just not ever giving up. Hopefully, we can keep doing that."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.