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Power walk off with a win

Kenny Kemp
West Virginia's Eric Wood (15) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run Sunday against Asheville.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The early four-run deficit hinted ominously that the Power's season-opening losing streak would extend to a fourth day.

But the team's hitters chipped away, the relievers kept it close and, after the Power executed an unusual double play to escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth, the momentum seemed to shift in the home team's favor.

"When Asheville had the bases loaded, and we turned two,'' said Power first baseman Stetson Allie, "that's when I knew we were going to win.''

And so they did. Allie, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound second-round draft pick, strode to the plate with two outs in the 11th inning and rocketed an opposite-field home run onto Morris Street to give the Power a 6-5 victory over the Tourists Sunday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park and prompt a celebration at home plate. A noisy crowd of 1,039 attended.

It was an uplifting victory for a team that had lost its first three games, failing to score in the season opener on Thursday and picking just one run Saturday night.

"This is definitely a way to get a run going,'' said right fielder Walker Gourley, who contributed three hits and two RBIs. "It was good to come out here and get the monkey off our back, and now we can relax and concentrate on what we do good.''

The Power's prospects looked bleak when it fell behind 4-0 in the second and trailed 5-2 entering the sixth. And though the Power scored twice in the sixth and tied it with a run in the seventh, the situation again looked grim in the ninth when the Tourists loaded the bases with none out.

Power manager Michael Ryan then beckoned to the bullpen for Pat Ludwig and brought the infield in. Ludwig then induced a ground ball to third baseman Eric Wood, who initiated a home-to-first twin killing.

Ludwig then ended the inning by fanning Matt Wessinger, who homered twice on Friday.

"I was excited,'' said Allie. "Our team needed this win. I was just so pumped.''

Said Ryan: "We talked this morning about team cohesion, pulling for one another, developing a relationship with each other so we can become closer as a team. Teams that have success are usually a close-knit bunch, and that's what we're trying to instill in these guys here. We had guys pulling for each other. We had guys hugging, slapping each other on the butts and really pulling for each other and wanting everyone to succeed. It's an individual game played by a team. Some guys develop that into a selfish nature. We're going to stay away from that. I'm not saying we are that, but we want to avoid that.''

In its comeback, the Power scored twice on Gourley's two-run double in the third, two more in the sixth on Wood's solo homer to left and Ashley Ponce's infield single that brought Raul Fortunato all the way home from second and the tying run in the seventh on Allie's single that scored Gourley, who had doubled.

And though the Power committed four errors, right fielder Gourley caught a fly ball in the fourth and threw home to nail a runner who tagged at third. Diaz picked the ball out of the dirt on a short hop and made a diving tag. In the 11th, Diaz threw from his knees to gun down a potential base stealer.

"Frankie Diaz by far had one of the better played games I've seen, throwing guys out, calling a great game. He got down a sacrifice bunt and had great at-bats,'' said Ryan. "He wanted that game so bad. You could tell by his conviction and the emotions he was showing. I'm very proud of him.''

Ludwig blanked the Tourists over the final three innings, allowing just one hit, to earn the victory. Jason Creasy and David Jagoditsh pitched shutout relief over the previous 42/3 innings.

"We're making steady improvement and getting back to the team we know we are,'' said Gourley, a Goldsboro, N.C., native. "It really showed tonight. We played good defense and pitched well and had some timely hits, which is something we haven't had the past few nights.''

POWER POINTS: The Power will play host to the Charleston RiverDogs in a three-game series beginning at 7:05 tonight. ... Sunday's Marshall-Houston game, which began at 10 a.m. at APP, lasted three hours, 44 minutes, pushing back the start of the Power-Tourists game to 3 p.m. Making matters worse, it was travel day for the Tourists, not to mention the inconvenience to fans who arrived at the park expecting a 2:05 p.m. start. ... Jameson Taillon, a Power pitcher in 2011, pitched five shutout innings for the Class AA Altoona curve on Saturday.

Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhiteford@wvgazette.com.


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