Power drops first game of SAL playoff series
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The South Atlantic League playoffs could not have started much worse for the West Virginia Power on Wednesday.
Power starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, the staff ace, was hit around early and the West Virginia bats were mostly silent as Hagerstown took Game 1 of the SAL Northern Division series 6-1 at Appalachian Power Park.
After walking the first batter, Glasnow settled down to strike out the next three. After a quiet second inning, Hagerstown jumped on the Power in its half of the third inning.
The Suns started the inning with singles from catcher Pedro Severino and shortstop Stephen Perez - the first two hits allowed by Glasnow in his previous 13 innings. Former Marshall outfielder Isaac Ballou, drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 15th round of this year's draft and now playing center field for the Suns, had a bunt attempt pop up to Power catcher Francisco Diaz.
Glasnow walked the next two batters, which brought in the first run of the game, before a wild pitch scored Hagerstown's second run. Designated hitter Wander Ramos followed that with a double to the left-center field gap that drove in two more Suns' runs.
"They waited him out and made him throw a lot of pitches. They wanted to get his pitch count up. They stuck to their game plan and they did it," Power manager Michael Ryan said. "That's a great team over there. We know what we've got to do to try and beat them, but they did what they were supposed to do."
Relief pitcher Kyle Haynes entered the game after Glasnow struck out Hagerstown's Bryan Lippincott for the second out of the inning. Estarlin Martinez grounded into a fielder's choice to close the inning after nine batters had been to the plate.
Hagerstown was not finished scoring, however. The Suns added a run in the sixth inning when Severino scored on a fielder's choice and another in the seventh when Martinez drove Lippincott in with a line drive to left field.
West Virginia threatened to make a game of it in the sixth inning. Right fielder Josh Bell walked and was brought around to score by center fielder Raul Fortunato. The Power had the bases loaded with two outs before second baseman Jimmy Rider looked at a called third strike to end the threat.
"The innings that we put pressure on them, the innings that we had the bases loaded, we took walks and we worked the count. We just lacked the big hit," Ryan said. "We've been getting the big hit all year and it was just one of those games where we didn't."
For Glasnow, it was a rare bad outing. Since late June he had allowed four runs just once and had only allowed three runs once during that span. He finished the game having allowed four runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in 22/3 innings.
Hagerstown starting pitcher Austin Voth fared well in his third SAL start this season.
The former Washington Huskies player, drafted in the fifth round by the Washington Nationals earlier this year, struck out five, issued two walks and gave up three hits in five innings to get the win.
"I thought he did an excellent job," Hagerstown manager Tripp Keister said. "That's only the third time I've seen him pitch and I thought he really answered the call today in a great environment.I thought he controlled his emotions well. He made pitches when he had to."
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THE SERIES takes today off before moving to Hagerstown for Game 2 on Friday and Game 3 on Saturday. John Kuchno (9-5) will start for West Virginia against Hagerstown's Pedro Encarnacion (10-9). Game 1 of the SAL championship series is scheduled to start Monday at the home stadium of the Northern Division winner.
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POWER BROADCASTER Adam Marco confirmed Wednesday's game was a sellout, aided by corporate sponsors that bought 4,500 tickets which were given away. Fans also received a free shirt upon entering the game.
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BALLOU WAS NOT the only former Marshall player in uniform for Hagerstown. Former Hurricane and Thundering Herd slugger Thor Meeks is a catcher in the Nationals' minor league system and serves as the bullpen catcher for the Suns.
"Yesterday we were here and we've got a bunch of new players we wanted to get acclimated to the ballpark," Keister said. "I was kind of on Isaac a little bit and told him, "Hey man make sure you know your surroundings." He was like, "Hey man, I've played here a bunch." He's played here more than we have so it was actually kind of funny."
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.