CHARLESTON, S.C. – Colton Cain, Kevin Decker and Brooks Pounders retired 25 of the last 27 Charleston batters after the first inning, as the West Virginia Power defeated the RiverDogs, 5-1, in South Atlantic League action Tuesday night in front of a crowd of 2,054 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
West Virginia moved back to the .500 mark at 15-15 with its fourth consecutive win, while Charleston dropped its fourth in a row and 13th over the last 16 games to regress to 12-20.
Charleston manufactured a run in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead off Cain.
Slade Heathcott slashed an opposite field single and moved into scoring position, when Jose Mojica laid down a textbook sacrifice bunt. J.R. Murphy then continued his tear, grounding a single just inside the first-base bag to plate Heathcott for his team-leading 22nd RBI of the young campaign.
The RiverDogs’ Nik Turley (1-3) could not hold the lead in the top of the second, however, as the bottom of the Power order wreaked havoc to forge a 3-1 lead.
Jairo Marquez lashed a one-out double and crossed to third on an error to put runners on the corners for Rogelio Noris. Noris dumped a single into right in front of Kelvin De Leon to tie the score, 1-1. Eric Avila followed with a two-run single to left, plating Elias Diaz and Noris for the 3-1 advantage.
The middle of the Power order got to Turley in the top of third, as West Virginia extended the cushion to 4-1. Dan Grovatt roped a single to left, and Justin Howard powered a double to left-centerfield gap to place runners at second and third for Mel Rojas, Jr. Turley retired Rojas on a groundout, but it was enough to allow Grovatt to come down the line and tally the fourth run.
Turley cruised through his final four frames to log a career-high seven innings. Howard’s third inning double was the last hit the 6-6 southpaw allowed, as West Virginia mustered only two base runners from innings four through seven. Overall, Turley scattered six hits and a walk, fanning six along the way.
Danny Burawa came out of the Charleston bullpen to author a scoreless eighth, but West Virginia pushed across an insurance run in the ninth on the strength of two infield singles.
Marquez reached on a grounder deep into the hole at shortstop to start the rally, and was pinch run for with Gift Ngoepe. Ngoepe moved up to second a wild pitch, crossed to third on Avila’s infield single and scurried home to score for a 5-1 Power advantage on another wild pitch.
Cain (2-2) penned 5.0 solid innings, permitting only the one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out three. A Waxahachie High School graduate and eighth round draft pick by the Pirates, Cain dropped his season ERA to 3.62 in six starts with 22 strike outs to eight walks.
College of Charleston product Kevin Decker and Brooks Pounders ensured Cain would be the winner, allowing just one hit over the final four frames. Decker was particularly effective, racking up three perfect frames while striking out three.
Ennis’ Justin Howard was 1-for-4 in the game with a double in the clean-up spot in the order while Red Oak’s Matt Curry had the night off. Curry is batting .378 on the season with five home runs, 24 RBI and five stolen bases.
Right-hander Mikey O’Brien (1-2, 3.69 ERA) looks to collect a victory for the second straight start, as the RiverDogs and Power meet again today at 7:05 p.m. Zack Von Rosenberg (0-2, 6.31 ERA), the number nine prospect in the Pirates system, according to Baseball America, is expected to pitch for West Virginia.
Follow the Power all season at wvpower.com.