Power wastes early lead, falls 12-5
The West Virginia Power absorbed a few body blows in keeping Hagerstown off the board early, but in the late going, the Suns used a couple of jab-jab-jab-haymaker combinations that finally sent the home team to the mat.
Hagerstown's seven-run top of the sixth inning turned a deficit into a 7-3 lead and by the time Wes Schill's grand slam landed over the left field wall in the ninth, the Suns rolled to a 12-5 win at Appalachian Power Park in the first game of a three-game set on Monday evening. A healthy crowd of 3,593 was on hand.
Trailing 3-0 in the sixth, the Suns loaded the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch to lead off the inning.
After Matt Foat and Schill registered back-to-back RBI singles, Pedro Severino landed the big blow, a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left-field line, to put the Suns ahead for good.
Hagerstown tacked on a couple more in the frame for good measure, sending 11 batters to the plate.
Schill continued the onslaught late with his first home run of the year, which came in the four-run variety after the bases were loaded on a single and two walks.
The Suns (4-1) won the South Atlantic League Northern Division in the first half and are off to a hot start again in the second.
"You can't do that against good teams," Power manager Mike Ryan said of the walks. "It's fun playing these guys, in my opinion, because you've got to play almost a perfect game to beat them. That makes us become better players. We know we can't make mistakes and it keeps us in the game for nine innings. It's fun."
Hagerstown did all its damage against the Power bullpen after starter Jason Creasy was able to keep the Suns off the board over his 42/3 innings.
Creasy was far from flawless but managed his way around two walks and four hits, striking out three along the way. Most importantly, he was able to wiggle out of jams, something the Power was ineffective in doing the rest of the game.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' eighth-round selection in 2011, Creasy made two spot starts in the first half and now finds himself a permanent member of the rotation, taking Joely Rodriguez's spot after the latter was promoted after the all-star break.
Monday's effort lowered Creasy's ERA to 3.54.
"Creasy did an excellent job," Ryan said. "He did a tremendous job preparing for the start as far as what he did in between this start and his last one. He prepared well and for him to see results like that - he was outstanding."
Stuck in a two-out, two-on jam in the fifth, Creasy exited in favor of reliever Clario Perez.
Perez (0-2) got the last out, but was tagged for five earned runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batsman and was pulled before recording an out in the sixth and was tagged with the loss.
"He just didn't get ahead and threw a lot of pitches," Ryan said. "[Hagerstown's Shawn] Pleffner battled for a leadoff walk and I think that at-bat fatigued him a little bit to where he left a few pitches up.
"They jumped on our bullpen, which good teams do, made good adjustments, and beat us."
Cleanup hitter and designated hitter Jordan Steranka drove in Dilson Herrera in the bottom of the first inning to start the scoring and give the Power an early lead.
Herrera reached on a double, extending his hit streak to 10 games.
Leadoff hitter Barrett Barnes added RBI singles in the second and fourth to give West Virginia (3-2) its short-lived 3-0 cushion.
Hagerstown starter Dixon Anderson (5-4) held on long enough to pick up the win, going five innings and giving up a trio of earned runs on five hits and six walks while striking out four.
Leadoff hitter Tony Renda led Hagerstown, going 4 for 6 with a double and an RBI. Narciso Mesa had two hits and scored twice out of the No. 9 spot for the Suns.
Steranka and Kawika Emsley-Pai joined Barnes with multi-hit efforts for West Virginia.
The teams continue the three-game set at 7:05 tonight. Right-hander Clay Holmes (2-5, 5.26) will attempt to improve on a poor outing in the second-half opener as he takes the mound for the Power.
The Suns counter with lefty Brett Mooneyham (3-1, 2.05 ERA).
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.