Power Swept Again Despite Stratton Going the Distance
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - Hunter Stratton tossed his first career complete game, but Kannapolis used a pair of sixth-inning runs to take both games of Thursday's twin bill, claiming game one, 3-2, and game two, 2-1, at Intimidators Stadium. West Virginia has now dropped seven straight games, and eight consecutive on the road, their longest stretches of the season.
The Power had not been swept in a four-game series since April 7-9, 2017, against the Rome Braves at Appalachian Power Park. West Virginia finished its road trip through Lexington, Kentucky, and Kannapolis, North Carolina, 0-7.
GAME ONE: Kannapolis 3, West Virginia 2 (F/7)
Jesse Medrano put the Power (13-18, 50-47) on the board in the opening frame. After Oneil Cruz worked a four-pitch walk to begin the game against Kannapolis starter Parker Rigler, Calvin Mitchell singled him over to third base. Medrano then lofted a fly ball to deep right field that scored Cruz and gave West Virginia a 1-0 lead.
Stratton (4-4) breezed through the first three innings, allowing just two singles, but struggled in the fourth frame. He retired the first batter, Nick Madrigal, on a line out to first, but then issued a walk to Craig Dedelow. The next batter, Tate Blackman, mashed a double to deep center field that plated Dedelow and tied the game at one. Tyler Frost followed Blackman's knock with a run-scoring two-bagger of his own, vaulting Kannapolis (17-15, 56-43) in front, 2-1.
West Virginia responded with some two-out magic in its next offensive frame. Robbie Glendinning and Fabricio Macias were retired in order to start the inning, but Kyle Watson managed to work a two-out walk. The next batter, Cruz, ripped a double over the head of the right fielder, Frost, that allowed Watson to rumble all the way around from first and knot the game at two.
The Intimidators pulled ahead in the sixth without the use of a hit. Madrigal ignited the inning by reaching on a missed catch error by Watson and moved to second quickly on a sacrifice bunt from Dedelow. With Blackman at the plate, Stratton uncorked a wild pitch that sent Madrigal to third. On the play, Rafelin Lorenzo tried to gun down Madrigal on his advancement to third, but his throw sailed over the head of Medrano and into left field, letting Madrigal trot in and tally the go-ahead run for Kannapolis.
Luis Ledo (6-1) secured the win for the Intimidators after tossing the final two frames, ceding just one hit.
Despite the loss, Stratton spun his first career complete game, and the first for West Virginia in 2018. The Walters State Community College product worked six innings for the second time in his professional tenure, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts while recording his second career quality start.
GAME TWO: Kannapolis 2, West Virginia 1 (F/7)
Ike Schlabach turned in another solid start in game two, spinning 5.1 innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out five, but another late-inning tally guided Kannapolis to its second straight doubleheader sweep.
The difference came in the bottom of the sixth. With one out and runners at the corners, Madrigal hit a pop fly to shallow right that Rodolfo Castro reeled in, but Ian Dawkins was able to tag and score on Castro's wild throw home to give Kannapolis a 2-1 edge.
After Schlabach (6-3) set down five of the first six batters he faced, Frost broke the scoreless tie with a solo homer to right-center in the second inning, pushing the Intimidators in front 1-0.
West Virginia would answer right back in the top of the third. After Lolo Sanchez drew a two-out walk, Cruz blistered a double to right to even the score.
The Power bats were shut down by a tandem of Jake Elliot and Kevin Escorcia (1-2). Elliot tossed four innings in a spot start and ceded just one unearned run. Escorcia relieved him and silenced the Power with three scoreless innings to earn the win.
West Virginia heads back home to begin a three-game series against the Asheville Tourists Friday evening at Appalachian Power Park, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. The Power has yet to announce their starter for Friday's opener, while the Tourists are sending RHP Garrett Schilling (4-3, 3.62 ERA) to the slab. Pregame coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on The Jock 1300 and 1340 AM, as well as online at www.wvpower.com and via the TuneIn Radio App and MiLB First Pitch App.
The final homestand of July begins Friday evening with Faith and Family Night, presented by Mako Medical Laboratories, featuring a postgame fireworks show, presented by TransCanada and Electric 102.7, as well as pregame concerts from The Jason Lovins Band and the New Life 94.5 2018 Power Factor competition winner, The Sycomores. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for Friday's series opener against the Asheville Tourists. For tickets and more information, call the Power at 304-344-2287 or visit www.wvpower.com.
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