South Atlantic League: Kuchno earns first win as Power tops Drive
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Power pitcher John Kuchno finally reaped the rewards of his solid run on the mound.
The right-hander, after looking good in three straight no decisions, picked up his first win in the Power's 6-3 victory Sunday evening over the Greenville Drive.
It was West Virginia's (13-16) fourth win in its last five games.
Kuchno's start Sunday was the next step in recovering from a rough first two starts of his season. In those two starts, he allowed 10 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. Since then, he's given up just three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking eight.
On Sunday, Kuchno gave up four hits and one earned run over a season-high six innings, striking out one and walking one. His ERA has plummeted from a high of 12.27 on April 12 to 4.33 after Sunday's game.
Kuchno said his command of his fastball allowed him to get batters out in early counts on Sunday. He added that working with Power pitching coach Jeff Johnson to adjust to a lower arm slot has assisted in his turnaround.
"We started working on it after my second start," he said. "It's been helpful. It's been kind of tough to adjust to it, but it's been good. It makes me much more effective down in the zone and consistent down in the zone."
Power Manager Mike Ryan said it's been tough to watch the 6-foot-5, 213-pound Kuchno improve as much as he has and remain winless, so it was quite satisfying to watch the former Ohio State pitcher get his first victory in a Power uniform.
"It was a great effort on his part," Ryan said. "He kept us in the game both offensively and defensively, getting us back into the dugout to try to score some runs and kept our defense on its toes. It was a tremendous outing by him."
The Power got its first run - and almost its second run - of the game in Jonathan Schwind's first at bat. In the bottom of the second, Schwind cracked a pitch into centerfield that bounced off the top of the wall and allowed D.J. Crumlich to score. Greenville's outfielders were calling for a ground-rule double, but the umpires were slow to make the call, so Schwind sprinted around the bases for what looked like an inside-the-park home run.
Yet once Schwind scored, the umpires conferred, finally decided it first bounced off the warning track, called it a ground-rule double and put Schwind back on second. He came home, and so did Raul Fortunato, after Max Moroff belted a no-doubt home run over the right field fence to give West Virginia a 4-0 lead. The two-out homer was Moroff's third of the year.
Josh Bell added a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, his fourth of the season.
The Drive suffered through another low-scoring game that has been the norm for the team this season. Greenville entered Sunday's game next to last in the South Atlantic League in batting average (.219) and last in the league in hits (109) and runs scored (100).
The two teams return to the field 7:05 p.m. today. Right hander Tyler Glasnow (1-0, 1.80) is scheduled to start for the Power against Greenville's righty Pat Light (1-1, 4.91)
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.