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Kuchno shakes off rust in Power win

Lawrence Pierce
Power second baseman Ashley Ponce turns a double play over Delmarva's Connor Narron.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia built an early lead and was able to hang on at the end as the Power opened its six-game homestand with a 7-5 win against Delmarva Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park.

The Power (32-26) got a good, but not great, start from pitcher John Kuchno. The right-hander allowed seven hits in five-plus innings but only gave up two runs with five strikeouts and no walks.

Kuchno had not started a game since May 18 and had been used in long relief by West Virginia manager Michael Ryan in recent weeks, but he found himself back on the mound to start the game Tuesday.

"[Kuchno was] very good, especially for not making a start in a little while," Ryan said. "I thought he was good and kept the ball down. He fell behind some guys but that was expected. He went deep into a game and that shows you how well he pitched."

Delmarva (24-32) opened the scoring in the first inning when Nik Balog's ground ball to Power first baseman Stetson Allie allowed Lucas Herbst to score from third.

The Power bats were quiet, for the most part, but West Virginia found ways to score.

Kawika Emsley-Pai and Ashley Ponce walked to start the third inning and both scored on a throwing error on a Junior Sosa ground ball. Right fielder Josh Bell was up next and crushed a ball to the opposite field and out of Appalachian Power Park to give the Power a 4-1 lead.

D.J. Crumlich started the fourth inning with a single and West Virginia extended its lead one batter later on a Raul Fortunato double that scored Crumlich. Ponce would drive Fortunato in later in the inning.

The Shorebirds out-hit West Virginia 13-6 but were hampered by three errors (with two in the third inning) that made it difficult to mount a comeback.

"Good timely hits," Ryan said. "We made a lot of productive outs. We made some outs but drove in some runs. Overall it was a pretty good night."

Delmarva did make things interesting in the late innings, however. A Gregory Lorenzo double scored Adrian Marin in the fifth inning while the Shorebirds plated two runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth.

Power relief pitcher Kyle Haynes put a stop to that with an emphatic strikeout against Balog to end the game and help West Virginia keep pace in the race for the South Atlantic League Northern Division first-half title.

The Power is one game behind division-leading Hagerstown, tied with Hickory. West Virginia has 12 games remaining before the All-Star break, including three with Hagerstown this weekend.

"We just worry about what we can do and what we can control," Ryan said. "We can control how we play that night. These guys believe they're in every game no matter what the score and before the game starts they know they have a chance to play a good game and win. If we think that way the rest will take care of itself."

Reach Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@wvgazette.com.

 


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