CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's a method to West Virginia Power manager Michael Ryan's madness in batting Walker Gourley in the No. 9 position.
Gourley surely isn't hitting like he belongs at the bottom of the order. With his 3-for-3 performance Tuesday in the Power's 6-1 win over the Hagerstown Suns, he is hitting a team-high .342 with 29 RBIs.
In his last 11 games, he is hitting .385; in his last six it goes up to .571. In nine games against the Suns, that number "falls" to .536, with a home run and six RBIs.
So why is Ryan batting him ninth?
"The reason why I hit him nine is I love what he does on the bases, in the nine hole," Ryan said. "I looked at some numbers - the most at-bats with runners in scoring position are from the nine hole. With our best situational hitter, I figured that would be a good spot for him."
He held up his end of the deal Tuesday. He walked to lead off a two-run third, singled in a run in the three-run fourth and singled in the final run in the sixth. He also singled in the eighth, but was doubled off in a forgettable base-running goof.
But that was a footnote in an excellent game for Gourley, as well as the Power.
"I'm seeing the ball pretty good, taking care of situations," said Gourley, a 13th-round pick in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. "It's a thing where your teammates put you in those situations, and I got the job done and helped the team win."
In this game, Gourley served as designated hitter. He has played first base, left field and right field for the Power, and grew up playing shortstop and even some catcher.
Whatever gets him in the lineup, he figures.
"I like right field, that's fine," Gourley said. "First base is kind of a lighter workload, I guess you can say. But I enjoy the outfield a lot."