W.Va. Power win again, could clinch playoff spot tonight
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With the West Virginia Power one game away from clinching a playoff berth, having all hands on deck would be ideal.
However, in Minor League baseball, teams never fully know what the roster will look like, especially at the end of the season with players getting called up, sent down, injured, or as in the case of now former Power second baseman Dilson Herrera, traded.
When Herrera, a South Atlantic League All-Star selection this season, was dealt to the New York Mets organization on Tuesday, it left a gaping hole in the Power lineup with postseason right around the corner.
With Herrera gone, Jimmy Rider is one player who is going to get more of an opportunity, and he has certainly stepped up in his new role, delivering again in the Power's 7-1 victory over Asheville Wednesday at Appalachian Power Park.
With the win, the first-place Power improved to 78-57 overall and remained one game up on Hagerstown for the second half crown with a 41-24 record.
However, even if the Suns overtake West Virginia, Hagerstown won the first half and has already qualified for the playoffs. In that scenario, the wild card spot would go to the team with the next best overall record.
The Power leads Hickory by five games with just five games to play, leaving its magic number to clinch its first playoff spot since 2009 to just one game.
"It's tremendous and I'm super proud of these guys," Power Manager Michael Ryan said. "We still have one game to go and we aren't going to take anything lightly. We want to get one more and go from there. They deserve to be in the situation they are in right now."
Rider got the Power on the scoreboard first, driving in two runs on a double in the second inning, and it was more than enough on the night with the West Virginia pitchers in complete control.
A 26th-round draft pick out of Kent State University, Rider is batting .286 in nine games with the Power after being called up from short season Jamestown on July 4th and making his debut on July 10th.
Rider has been very effective of late, going 4-for-6 in the last series on the road at Savannah, including a game-winning three-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Power a 4-3 victory.
Last night, Rider went 2-for-3, including a key RBI late in the game.
Ryan couldn't be much more happier with the way Rider has played for the Power.
"I'm very proud," he said. "Jimmy has come in, fit it, and the guys have accepted him. He has been busting his tail on the field and deserves everything that is happening to him. He has been in the some big spots where he has gotten big hits.
"He doesn't try to do too much, and just lets the game come to him," Ryan said. "When that happens, good things for him happen."
West Virginia hopes to clinch a playoff spot when it plays Asheville in its final regular season home game tonight at 7:05.