West Virginia Power: Game Notes (august 12)
West Virginia continues its four-game series with the Rome Braves this afternoon, with first pitch from State Mutual Stadium set for 2 p.m. RHP Sergio Cubilete (3-5, 5.48 ERA) takes the mound for the Power.
STAFFORD, STRATTON CARRY POWER TO 8-2 WIN: Deon Stafford recorded a career-high six RBI over the final two innings while Hunter Stratton spun his third quality start of the season to lead West Virginia to an 8-2 victory over the Rome Braves Saturday night at State Mutual Stadium, evening the game at one apiece. Stafford tallied all six RBI on two swings as he ripped a two-run double in the eighth to vault West Virginia in front, 3-1, before lofting a grand slam to right in the ninth against Rome's closer, Kelvin Rodriguez, to blow the game wide open. Meanwhile, Stratton took care of the Braves' offense for seven frames, the longest start of his career, scattering six hits and allowing just two runs while striking out three and walking three. He left with two runners on and nobody out in the eighth, but Beau Sulser came in and induced a double play on the second he pitch he threw to minimize the damage. Sulser finished out the game with two scoreless innings, ceding just one hit and striking out two to pick up his sixth save.
STAFFORD'S BIG NIGHT: Stafford went 3-for-5 with a grand slam, a double, six RBI and a run scored. The grand slam was the first of his career, and the second for West Virginia this season (Dylan Busby, May 10 at Hagerstown), while the six RBI was a career-high for Stafford. The Philadelphia native became the first Power batter to record six RBI in a single game since former West Virginia infielder Chase Simpson accomplished the feat August 5, 2015 against Greenville. Stafford also slammed his eighth home run of the season, tied with Calvin Mitchell for third-most on the squad (Rodolfo Castro, 9; Oneil Cruz, 14). Stafford has now doubled his home run output from a year ago, when he earned New York-Penn League All-Star honors in his rookie season in Morgantown with the West Virginia Black Bears. Since coming off the disabled list August 4, the backstop is averaging .346 (9-for-26) over those seven games with three home runs and 10 RBI. This surge comes after posting a .159 July clip, his worst statistical month of the year.
FINDING HIS GROOVE: Stratton continued his recent run of consistency by turning in the best start of his career Saturday night, tossing a career-high seven innings and giving up just two runs on six hits while fanning three batters. The Walters State Community College product turned in the third quality start of his career (all this season) and completed the fifth inning for his fifth straight start. Over those last five starts, Stratton has posted a 2.57 ERA (8 ER/28 IP) while striking out 13 batters. His season ERA has shrunk from 5.25 to 4.57, a difference of 68 points.
SHUTDOWN SULSER: Since a tough outing July 25 in Kannapolis, Sulser has regained his dominance and claimed the role of West Virginia's primary closer after Matt Seelinger was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays. In five appearances since that walk-off loss, Sulser has ceded one run on five hits over 9.2 innings (0.93 ERA) and registered 18 strikeouts. The Dartmouth product has only allowed one of his 15 inherited runners to score this season. He also registered his sixth save of the season, second-most to Seelinger's seven that he accrued before the trade. West Virginia now has 29 saves as a team, which is eighth-highest in the South Atlantic League. Lakewood leads the way with 42 saves.
HAMMERIN' HERNANDEZ: Raul Hernandez has mashed since coming off the shelf in early July, boasting a .390 (30-for-77) clip with a home run and 15 RBI in 22 second-half contests. In the month of August, Hernandez is riding a ridiculous .533 (16-for-30) stroke with three doubles, four RBI and four runs scored over nine games. His .533 average in the month leads all South Atlantic League sluggers. He has also been a force as the designated hitter for the Power this season. In seven starts as the DH, the backstop is averaging .609 (14-for-23) with two doubles and four RBI.
MULTI-HIT MITCHELL: Mitchell went 2-for-5 with a run scored Saturday night, notching his 26th multi-hit game of the season, second on the team to Cruz (30). The 2018 Mid-Season SAL All-Star has seen a bit of a drop off in his second-half production, only holding a .220 average as opposed to his .316 first-half clip that earned him those accolades.
BEEP BEEP!: Fabricio Macias has started to show off some of his speed that he displayed in the Triple-A unaffiliated Mexican League a season ago. He has now stolen a base in three straight games, upping his season total to five, tied with Castro for sixth-most on the Power. A year ago, he managed to take 18 bases in 25 tries with Saraperos de Saltillo.
POWER POINTS: Stafford recorded his 19th multi-hit game of the season, including his fourth three-hit effort, while Macias snagged his eighth multi-hit affair. Stafford also secured his seventh multi-RBI game... West Virginia is 21-0 when its offense tallies eight runs or more in a contest... The Power was 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position, stranding six men on base... Stafford's 16 doubles are tied for third-best on the team with Ryan Peurifoy... Hernandez swiped his second base of the year... West Virginia did not commit an error for the 37th time this season.
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