Chuck McGill: Glasnow, Power on a trip
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Power is in the postseason for the first time since 2008, which might be the last time Tyler Glasnow allowed a hit.
OK, so that's not true. Glasnow has allowed a baserunner here and there this season, but after his birthday on Aug. 23, he is no longer a teenager dominating the South Atlantic League.
He's getting better in his 20s.
The 6-foot-7, 195-pound, 20-year-old strikeout machine will get the ball tonight when West Virginia hosts Hagerstown in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.
First pitch at Appalachian Power Park is 7:05.
Glasnow brings an 11-inning hitless streak into the series, which will conclude either Friday or Saturday in Hagerstown, depending how these first two games go.
There was a buzz in the Power clubhouse Wednesday as the second-half champs in the Sally League's Northern Division prepared for a workout.
Having the club's "1" going in Game 1 helps.
"It set up nice for us," first-year Power Manager Mike Ryan said. "But we know it's going to be a challenge for him."
Pfft. Not much has been a challenge for Glasnow in his first year of full-season professional baseball, except for a tad too many walks.
The Power may be offering free tickets to tonight's playoff opener, but Glasnow needs to keep the free passes at a minimum. He walked 10 in 12 2/3 innings against Hagerstown this season. Of course, he allowed only six hits, three earned runs and struck out 16 in three meetings with the Suns.
Overall, the 2011 fifth-round draft pick is 9-3 with a 2.18 earned-run average and a club-record 164 strikeouts in 111 1/3 innings. He's allowed either zero or one hit in five of his last six outings and has a scoreless streak of 18 innings.
In that 18-inning scoreless stretch - which dates back to an Aug. 7 game against Delmarva - Glasnow has 33 strikeouts and 10 walks. The opposition has managed just three hits against him since a four-run first inning by the Shorebirds.
"I'm itching to go out there and throw," Glasnow said. "It was hard to sleep last night. I'm extremely pumped to pitch and really glad I get to throw the first one and we'll see where it goes from there."
It could've gone a lot of ways for the Power this season, but the team persevered. The team makeup has been altered by promotions (Stetson Allie) and trades (Dilson Herrera), but West Virginia put together an impressive second half to finish with 82 wins - tied for the most since the Power moved to its East End ballpark for the 2005 season.
"We've learned off of our major league team," Ryan said of the parent club and potentially playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates. "We've learned what our organization as a whole has preached. One of their mottos is 'next man up' and that's our motto here. We've carried that with us.
"Losing Stetson was huge, we lost Dilson in a trade, but it's next man up."
Now West Virginia is one of four South Atlantic League teams vying for a championship. The winner of the Power-Suns series gets Savannah or Augusta in a five-game series next week.
Charleston last witnessed a professional baseball title in 1990, when the Wheelers put together a strong second half to win it all. The Wheelers went 47-25 in that second half. The Power went 45-25 in this season's second half.
The club is hot at the right time. Five games stands between the Power and a playoff title and the team is on a five-game winning streak, which started with Glasnow's last regular season start on Aug. 30.
West Virginia General Manager Tim Mueller isn't ready to talk titles yet. In the twilight of the regular season, he noticed an envelope in his mailbox outside his office at Power Park. He recognized the name on the front and knew it was information from Jostens about championship rings.
Mueller hasn't touched it.
"It's still sitting there," he said. "I didn't want to jinx it. I looked underneath it and on top of it to make sure there was nothing pressing, but it's still sitting there."
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at email@example.com or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.