Power fritters away early lead in 9-4 loss
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It really seemed as if the West Virginia Power relievers had taken a step forward.
After five of six inherited runners had scored over the team's first three games, the Power stared down six more with the game on the line Sunday and each time kept Asheville off the board.
But if Sunday was a step forward, Monday was a large step back.
The Power built an early 4-0 lead and starter Tyler Glasnow was solid in his first outing of the year, but after his five innings West Virginia's bullpen couldn't hold onto the lead as Charleston (S.C.) scored nine runs in the final three innings en route to a 9-4 win in the first game of a three-game series at Appalachian Power Park. A crowd of 1,479 attended.
Charleston catcher Peter O'Brien had a go-ahead, two-run blast in the top of the eighth that clanged off the scoreboard and catapulted the RiverDogs to victory.
"It felt great," O'Brien said. "I was just looking for something up in that situation and I got the pitch. The team was great. Even though we were down in the beginning, we've got a great team and a great group of hitters, a great group of pitchers and we stuck in there and that's how baseball is played."
Dante Bichette Jr. added a punctuating blast with a two-out, opposite-field grand slam in the ninth inning.
Both bombs were launched off Power reliever Bryton Trepagnier, who was hit with the loss after giving up seven runs in just 12/3 innings on five hits and two walks. Fellow reliever Josh Smith wasn't much better over the prior two innings, as he yielded a pair of earned runs on three hits and a walk.
O'Brien couldn't place his finger on anything in particular about the difference between the Power's starter and relievers, even after homering and doubling in the late innings.
"It's still early in the season, so we've still got things we're all trying to work on and fix," O'Brien said. "That's the name of the game - little by little, just keep working."
It was all going so well early for the home team.
The Power's Stetson Allie closed down West Virginia's first win of the season with a walk-off homer in the 11th inning Sunday and on Monday he didn't wait long for an encore.
The designated hitter tattooed the first pitch in the bottom of the second over the left-field wall, sparking an early flurry that Josh Bell continued in the third with a three-run double.
That 4-0 cushion provided by the offense allowed Glasnow to settle in and the righty was sharp in his five innings, yielding just four hits and no walks while striking out six.
It was the opposite story for the RiverDogs (3-2) as starter Vicente Campos yielded four runs on four hits and a walk while striking out three in just three innings, but was bailed out by some late offensive fireworks and solid bullpen work.
In fact, RiverDogs relievers Evan Rutckyj and Charlie Short combined on six scoreless innings to finish the game. Rutckyj pitched five of them and picked up the win.
"We've got a great pitching staff and their biggest thing is going right after guys," O'Brien said. "They all have good stuff, so basically if they're in the zone and they get ahead early, they're pretty hard to beat."
Leftfielder Raul Fortunato had a three-hit night, including a triple in the sixth, and Dilson Herrera went 2 for 5 for West Virginia (1-4). Robert Refsnyder was 3 for 3 with a pair of runs and RBIs for Charleston.
The teams continue their series at 7:05 tonight as West Virginia tries to bounce back. Right-hander Clay Holmes (0-0, 9.82 ERA) will get the nod for the Power while Charleston will counter with righty Cesar Vargas.
West Virginia's two errors brought the team's total to 14. Twelve in the first four games ranked worst in the South Atlantic League. The Power committed a Sally League-high 188 errors in 2012.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.