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Rome hammers Power 10-4

By By Mike Whiteford
For the Gazette
KENNY KEMP | Gazette West Virginia third baseman Chris Diaz (3) runs down and tags out Rome's Conner Lien after he was picked off second base during Sunday's game.

A .258 batting average and minimal power hardly suggest a big-league future for a 25-year-old in low-A ball.

And though the odds may be long, the dream perseveres, especially in a sport where unpredictability reigns and late-bloomers often come out of nowhere.

Rome first baseman Ross Wilson, who will turn 26 in November, still believes.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,’’ Wilson said Sunday.

Wilson hit a game-tying two-run homer to left in the sixth inning and wore a big smile as he touched home and made his way to the dugout.

And in the eighth, he led off with a double and again scored the tying run, setting things up for a six-run ninth, which included Carlos Franco’s grand slam, as the Braves rallied to defeat the Power 10-4 Sunday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park. A paid crowd of 1,038 attended.

Wilson, a former University of Alabama player, has played professionally since 2010, spending four seasons and playing on three different teams in the South Atlantic League, and has bounced from the White Sox and Marlins organizations to the Braves. Earlier this season, he played three games at Jacksonville, the Marlins’ club in the Class AA Southern League. Shortly thereafter, the Braves picked him up.

“These guys gave me an opportunity,’’ he said. “If you don’t take it, you may regret it for the rest of your life, so I said I’ll take it.’’

His Rome numbers — .258, four homers, 23 RBIs in 43 games — have been unspectacular, but he’s making contributions in other ways.

“He’s been huge for our team,’’ said Rome manager Jonathan Schuerholz. “You hate to use the term veteran presence, but he’s been around the league a time or two. And he does more stuff off the field than on the field. We have a young club, and he helps them on how to be a pro, what to do and all that kind of stuff. And just his presence — he’s a very even keel young man, doesn’t get too high or too low when things are going well or when things are going bad. It’s a good example he sets in the clubhouse for those guys on what it means to be a professional. He doesn’t call team meetings or anything like that, but we’ve got some young players, and every now and again he just talks to them and says, ‘You should have done this instead of that.’’’

It’s much too early, Schuerholz said, to think of anything other than fulfilling a big-league dream.

“He wants to make it to the big leagues, and he’s doing everything to improve and get better, and he’s really helping us out along the way,’’ said the manager.

POWER POINTS: The Power, 14-17 in the second half, will close out the home stand against the Braves beginning at 7:05 tonight. ...When the Power won Friday’s game with a bases-loaded walk, it was the team’s first walk-off victory of the season. The Power, meanwhile, has suffered 10 walk-off losses. The last year, the team was 8-6 in walk-off games. ... Power center fielder Austin Meadows made an appearance on MLB Radio Sunday morning as part of a program highlighting the game’s top prospects. ... Power lead-off hitter Michael Fransoso hit an inside-the-park homer in the third on Sunday. In addition to his grand slam, Rome’s Franco also had a solo homer that landed on Morris Street. ... The Power, which averaged 2,331 fans a game last year, entered Sunday’s play with an average of 2,111 for 44 openings.

Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhiteford@wvgazette.com.


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