Power's ninth-inning burst leads to another home victory
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In sports, the objective is to win the majority of home games and hold your own on the road.
The West Virginia Power has more than met expectations at home, winning eight consecutive games at Appalachian Power Park.
The home winning streak looked to be in serious trouble as the Power offense looked anemic through the first eight innings vs. Delmarva.
However, the home magic returned in the ninth, as the Power erupted for four runs out of nowhere, earning a wild 4-3 come from behind victory over the Shorebirds at Appalachian Power Park.
With the win, the Power (24-14 in the second half and 61-47 overall) remain in first place by 11/2 games over Hagerstown, a 4-2 winner in extra innings at Lakewood on Wednesday afternoon.
"There is something special going on here," Power Manager Michael Ryan said. "We go off of our fans. There have been some great nights and we want to play well for them so they keep coming out.
"I've never met anyone who doesn't want to play in front of big crowds. We try and feed off their energy. Our fan base has been tremendous. We want to keep winning. They deserve to see it."
The first four Power batters reached base as Josh Bell started off the ninth with a walk, and Jordan Steranka followed with a double. Eric Wood delivered a RBI infield single to put the Power on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to 3-1.
Luis Urena struck out, but Kawika Emsley-Pai - the team's No. 8 hitter - drew a four-pitch walk, loading the bases with just out.
With No. 9 hitter Chris Diaz up at the plate, Delmarva pitcher Casey Upperman threw his first two pitches for balls, and on the next pitch, the Power shortstop hit a liner just inside the third base bag, scoring Wood and Fortunato with the tying and winning runs.
Emsley-Pai and Diaz combined to go 0-6 before their heroics of drawing the walk before Diaz' clutch double that won the game for the Power and set off a mob scene all the way to the outfield behind second base.
"It was an amazing feeling," Diaz said. "We weren't having a good game from the beginning. To end it that way, it was great. That was my first walk off here. It was fun and an awesome feeling."
Diaz was proud of the way the Power hung in there until the late heroics.
"I was looking for one pitch and one pitch only," Diaz said. "I got it and took a hack at it. It was a fastball in. We had some good at bats in the ninth. This team is resilient, never gives up, and always battles."
Ryan was equally impressed with the late comeback from his team.
"It's great fight," Ryan said. "These guys don't give up. That's what they do every night.
"They believe they are in every game. This is a win that can carry you for a long time. They are starting to get hungry into the possibility at the end."
Delmarva struck first, plating a run in their first at-bat. With one out, Lucas Herbst singled, Creede Simpson was hit by a pitch, and Wynston Sawyer delivered a big two-out single down the left field line for the Shorebirds.
Sawyer was the man of the night for Delmarva, delivering another clutch two-out hit in the fifth inning as well. With his team clinging to their one run lead, the Shorebird catcher doubled to score a pair of runs and put the Power a 3-0 deficit.