West Virginia Power: Game Notes (july 29)
The Power wraps up their three-game series with the Asheville Tourists Sunday afternoon at Appalachian Power Park, with first pitch set for 2:05 p.m. RHP Max Kranick (1-4, 4.44 ERA) is on the mound.
POWER EDGED OUT 4-3 BY TOURISTS: Calvin Mitchell's two-run single pushed the Power up by two in the third inning, but Asheville used a pair of home runs to eke past West Virginia, 4-3, in the middle match of their three-game series Saturday evening at Appalachian Power Park. The Tourists took a 1-0 lead in the first on a solo homer from Sean Bouchard to right off Travis MacGregor, but the Power battled back to tie things up in the second. Rodolfo Castro singled to lead off the inning before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt from Fabricio Macias. Two batters later, Rafelin Lorenzo drove in Castro with a base knock to the shortstop, Ryan Vilade. The Power took the lead in the third as Oneil Cruz worked a one-out walk before Lolo Sanchez slammed a ground-rule double into the left-field corner, setting the stage for Mitchell's two-run single. That lead would not last for long, however, as Todd Czinege stroked a three-run blast against MacGregor in the fourth to give Asheville a 4-3 lead that they would not relinquish. Frederis Parra earned the win after tossing seven quality innings for the Tourists, allowing three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts. MacGregor lasted five frames and ceded four runs on four hits with six strikeouts. Tommy Doyle secured the save after setting down the top of West Virginia's order without surrendering a base hit and fanning a pair.
YOU WISH THAT YOU HAD JESSE'S BAT: Jesse Medrano continued his hot hitting in July Saturday, going 1-for-4 with a single to left field in the fourth inning against Parra. Since hitting .182 over his first seven games with the Power, Medrano has boasted a .286 (18-for-63) stroke over his last 20 games with a home run and 11 RBI. He has relished playing at Appalachian Power Park too, posting a .359 clip in 12 home games versus a .174 road average.
MITCHELL AND CRUZ RETURNING TO FORM: After slumping for a majority of July, Mitchell has started to find his stroke again. The Pirates' 11th-best prospect per MLB.com has reached safely in each of his last 10 games, while recording a hit in six of his last seven. Over those last 10 games, Mitchell is averaging .313 (10-for-32) with three RBI. The Rancho Bernardo (CA) High School product posted his 10th multi-RBI game of the season Saturday night, second-best on the team to Cruz (14), who registered his 27th multi-hit game (team-high) yesterday with a 2-for-4 effort, his second multi-hit contest in his last five starts. Both Mitchell and Cruz are now hitting above .220 in July after holding clips under .200 for most of the month. Cruz leads the team overall in 2018 with a .291 average.
GETTING BACK "INTO THE GROOVE": West Virginia's bullpen has had some rough times in the second half, holding a 4.58 ERA (56 ER/110.1 IP). However, this series has been a solid showing for the Power's relief corps. On Friday night, the bullpen was unhittable through four innings, which is a great sign, especially for Beau Sulser, who rebounded nicely from a tough outing in Kannapolis where he did not record an out and faced only four batters. Matt Seelinger has also rebounded, tossing two scoreless innings over his last two appearances after taking eight days between outings. Yesterday, Oddy Nunez and Drew Fischer combined for four shutout frames in relief of MacGregor.
WELCOME BACK, ODDY: Nunez hurled three scoreless innings in his 2018 Power debut out of the bullpen Saturday night, surrendering just three hits and striking out one. Nunez was with West Virginia for the entirety of 2017, going 5-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) over 114 innings with 94 strikeouts to 32 walks. Nunez made just his fourth relief appearance over the last two seasons after appearing twice out of the Marauders' pen in 2018 and once last season with the Power, where he earned the win after tossing five innings and giving up two runs at Charleston, SC.
DON'T STOP BELIEVING: Despite the Power's 7-18 mark in July, history gives this team plenty of optimism. A year ago, West Virginia went 13-15 in July and still kept themselves in postseason contention by claiming 22 of their final 34 games, which included a 19-10 record in August. The Power currently have 35 games left in the 2018 regular season.
THE END OF THE TOUR: Sunday marks the final meeting between the Power and the Tourists in 2018. West Virginia has already clinched a winning record against Asheville this season with its 7-2 win Friday night. The Power and Tourists would only meet again this season if both teams reached the South Atlantic League Championship Series.
POWER POINTS: West Virginia is 14-18 (.438) in one-run games this season... Lorenzo has hit safely in each of his first three games since returning from the disabled list... The Power was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position Saturday night, stranding 10 men on base... Mitchell and Cruz each committed one error Saturday night, bringing West Virginia's season total to 131, fourth-highest in the South Atlantic League (Rome, 140; Greenville, 133; and Lexington 132). Cruz leads the league in errors with 31. The Power's .963 fielding percentage is still the lowest mark in the SAL.
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