Gregory Polanco Stays Hot for West Virginia

Gregory Polanco continues to swing one of the hottest bats in the South Atlantic League for Class A West Virginia.

The 20-year old from the Dominican Republic went 4-for-4 with four RBI in a 9-1 Power win against Delmarva in a game that took two days to get in. Polanco started Friday’s game with single to score Alen Hanson in the first inning. He followed that up with another RBI single, this time bringing Taylor Lewis around as part of a five-run West Virginia second inning.

Rain forced the game to be put on hold until Saturday and resulted in its shortening to seven innings. When the Power pulled the tarp off Appalachian Power Park, Polanco went back to work.

Hanson reached on a fielder’s choice in the West Virginia half of the third and racked up two more stolen bases, taking second and third. After a Lewis strikeout, Polanco came to the dish and smacked a pitch back up the middle to score Hanson. His next at-bat came in the fifth with Lewis on first base after taking a walk. This time Polanco took Delmarva’s Zack Folwer hard down the left field line to score Lewis.

Polanco’s heroics have not been limited to just one game. In West Virginia’s last ten contests, the Power centerfielder is hitting .412 (14-for-34) with 14 RBI, nine stolen bases and has an OPS of .962.  For comparison’s sake, Alen Hanson is hitting just .216 with zero RBI and just one extra base hit during the same span.

In the SAL, Polanco ranks fourth in RBI (66), sixth in batting average (.322, which leaps Hanson’s .320 average for the team lead), second in hits (114, behind only Hanson’s 122), third in stolen bases (37) and sixth in runs (66).

***

Since hitting the road early last week, West Virginia has posted an 8-5 record to bump the overall record for the second half to 15-14 and sits a game and a half behind SAL Northern Division leaders Hickory and Lakewood.

Obviously offensive threats such as Polanco and Hanson play a big part of that, but those guys were putting up similar numbers in the first half when the Power crawled to a last place finish and set a dubious league record with just seven wins away from Appalachian Power Park .

The difference in the second half has been pitching. When the Power get good outings from the starting pitchers, good things tend to happen. Zack Dodson has been strong since the All-Star break in late June, posting a 3-1 record in six starts with 21 strikeouts and eight walks issued.

Robby Rowland has also been solid in the second half. The 20-year old from Cloverdale, Calif. is 3-2 with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks issued in the second half. Not coincidentally, however, Dodson and Rowland each had less than their best stuff in recent games against Delmarva. Rowland went seven complete innings in Saturday’s second game, allowing four runs (all earned) in a loss. Dodson lasted just five innings and allowed only three runs, but took the loss in Friday’s first game against the Shorebirds.

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Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

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    Thx Tom.

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