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12th-inning rally keeps Power in first

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Power sure had its work cut out Wednesday night.

Not only did West Virginia have to come from behind three times against Hagerstown, but it also had to beat an approaching storm ready to dump all over Appalachian Power Park on getaway day.

All in all, not a bad night's work.

Max Moroff's single to right scored Jordan Steranka with none out in the bottom of the 12th inning to cap a wild 7-6 victory, keeping the Power in a share of first place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division.

"I think that was actually the first time I ever had a walk-off hit,'' Moroff said. "It's definitely a big boost for me in confidence.''

The Power (5-2 in the second half) trailed 6-5 entering the bottom of the 12th, just having given up an unearned run in the top of the inning on third baseman D.J. Crumlich's throwing error with two out.

However, West Virginia never made an out in piecing together its final comeback of the night.

Walker Gourley led off the 12th with a single and Steranka drew a walk from reliever Cody Davis, the fourth pitcher for Hagerstown. Raul Fortunato dropped down a sacrifice bunt that drew a crowd in front of the plate, with Davis, catcher Pedro Severino and first baseman Shawn Pleffner all converging on the ball.

Severino picked it up and the other two had to duck quickly, but their presence might have distracted Severino, who threw wildly to first, scoring Gourley and putting runners at first and third.

Moroff followed with his game-winner to end the 3-hour, 35-minute marathon and give the Power some pep in its step as it heads to Lakewood (N.J.) for a game tonight.

"Honestly, I was just looking for a good pitch over the plate,'' Moroff said, "and trying to put it in play and get the runner from third in. It definitely brings an energy boost coming into tomorrow. We have a 12-hour bus ride, so we've got to be ready to go tomorrow.''

The win allowed the Power a bit of revenge against the Suns (4-3), the first-half winners of the Northern Division, who had beaten West Virginia five times out of nine previously this season and outscored them 59-40.

"That's what's special about this group of guys, to be honest with you,'' said Power manager Mike Ryan. "They don't think they're out of any game - no matter the score, no matter how late it is or how early it is, anything. They're going to fight and battle 'til the end, until that last out.''

It didn't appear as if the teams were going to make the game official with the way a thunderstorm was approaching from the west. Devilish winds kicked up after the game went into extra innings.

They went into extras because the Power's Barrett Barnes socked a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth, tying the game at 5.

Earlier, Hagerstown had jumped out to a 2-0 lead against West Virginia starter John Kuchno in the top of the first, but the Power responded with four tallies in the bottom of the first, including a two-run double by Moroff.

"I think this is something that can get [Moroff] going,'' Ryan said. "This is a win that can carry you for a long time. This is a win that if there was any doubt of not being in a game in any situation, this proved to yourself that you can fight back and win, especially against a great team like that. This is just a special group of guys with a special win.''

Hagerstown got three RBIs from Brandon Miller - a two-run double in the first and an RBI single in the fifth. A few moments after the latter, however, Miller was cut down at the plate on a fine throw from Gourley in right. Miller was trying to score from second on a single by Will Piwnica-Worms.

Power left fielder Jonathan Schwind also made a nice running catch to end the top of the fourth and Barnes ended the sixth with a catch of a deep fly ball with two runners aboard.

Pat Ludwig, the Power's fourth pitcher, got the win with three innings of work.

The Power's Dilson Herrera saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0 for 5 night. Gourley's 12-game streak remains the team's longest this season. The Power won despite going 0 of 7 with runners in scoring position between the second and 11th.

Suns manager Tripp Keister was ejected in the bottom of the second inning for arguing a call at second base when the Power's Schwind took second on a wild pitch.

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.

 


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