Power extends streak with win
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kannapolis hasn't lived up to its nickname of the Intimidators against the West Virginia Power this season
The Power had won all seven of their meetings this season against the Intimidators entering its contest Sunday afternoon, and extend its winning streak.
Despite a tough battle, the Power did just that, continuing its dominance of Kannapolis, with a walkoff 5-4 victory at Appalachian Power Park in front of a crowd of 1,052.
In a tie game in the ninth inning, the Power loaded the bases with no outs and cleanup hitter Josh Bell lifted a 2-2 offering from Intimidator pitcher Ryan Bollinger into deep right-center field. Kannapolis right fielder Juan Ramirez dropped the ball for an error, but the fly ball would have been deep enough to score winning run Max Moroff from third base anyway.
"It's a really awesome feeling to win games like that," Bell said. "I was just trying to see a ball up in the zone. I wanted to get underneath it and hit it somewhere hard in the outfield."
The Bell walk-off set up a post-game celebration from the Power dugout, one the prized second-round Pirates draft pick in 2011 won't soon forget.
"I'm pretty sure it's my first professional walk-off," Bell said. "It was a lot of fun. After I hit the ball, and saw how deep it was going to go, it was awesome seeing my teammates run out of the dugout like that. I haven't been in a dog pile like that since high school. It's a lot of fun."
Moroff led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk in a driving rainstorm that started earlier in the top half, and Bollinger threw a wild pitch. Dilson Herrera tried to lay down a sacrifice, but his bunt was perfectly executed down the third base line for an infield single.
Kannapolis manager Tommy Thompson sent out catcher Brent Tanner after the bunt and then walked out to the mound himself. The teams continued playing through the rain and Barrett Barnes was intentionally walked, leading to Bell's heroics.
"He (Bell) had a good game today and came up big for us in the last inning," Power hitting Coach Orlando Merced said. "It is good to see him going down the right path. He's been really consistent."
Bell and Moroff both had huge games for the Power offense. Moroff reached base all five times up, including two singles, three walks, and three runs scored. Bell connected on a three-run homer in the first inning, his ninth of the year, and was at the plate on a wild pitch that scored Moroff as well.
The Power had the opportunity to deliver the walk-off because of left fielder Luis Urena, who likely saved the game for the Power in the top half of the ninth inning.
Tied at four, Kannapolis had the bases loaded when Mike Marjama hit a shot to left field but Urena raced back to the wall, leaped, and brought back a grand slam home run, catching the ball for the third out instead.
"It was huge and absolutely saved the game," Bell said. "He was the player of the game tonight. That was textbook outfield right there. It was awesome to see. Our center fielder Barrett Barnes said he brought it back. It's spectacular."
The Power bullpen continued its mastery of late as relievers Lance Breedlove and Ryan Hafner combined to pitch four scoreless innings, running their consecutive streak to 17 1/3 innings of work without allowing a single run.
"I wish you wouldn't have said that," said Power pitching Coach Jeff Johnson, when asked about the impressive streak. "I didn't even know that. They have done well all year. We have some guys in place and they have been great. It's really been awesome."
Both Kannapolis starting pitcher Kyle Hansen (leg injury) and home plate umpire Ryan Benson (hand injury) both had to leave the game after a play at the plate in the fourth inning after a wild pitch allowed a Power run to score.
With the bases loaded and one out with Bell batting, Hansen delivered a wild pitch. Tanner retrieved the ball and threw home, but Moroff and Hansen collided. The ball hit Benson, causing him to leave the game with Jordan Albarado coming in to call balls and strikes and ump the entire field.