Zack Von Rosenberg’s up-and-down tenure in West Virginia was back up Wednesday. The 21-year old from Louisiana matched his season-high with six innings pitched and allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts to get the win as the Power trounced Lakewood 13-2 at Appalachian Power Park.
Von Rosenberg (2-2, 4.75 ERA) was not overpowering Wednesday but was able to get the BlueClaws to hit a lot of fly balls to the outfield and got (understatement alert) some help from his offense.
Power manager Rick Sofield said Von Rosenberg is starting to show some consistency on the mound after his not-so-consistent start to the year.
“(Von Rosenberg) has been working to throw strikes and relax,” Sofield said. “He makes a couple quality pitches and it works out and he builds on that. We make defensive plays behind him, and that’s who he is – he’s not a strikeout guy. We play defense for a little while and it helps him. We score some runs and it relaxes him. He can go ahead and go to contact and let that be his friend and it worked out for him.”
Von Rosenberg’s previous start was also a good one – going six complete innings without allowing a run and striking out six at Delmarva on June 29. Sofield said Von Rosenberg’s solid outing on Wednesday was something West Virginia needed after Ryan Hafner’s one-third of an inning start Tuesday in a loss to Delmarva.
“We needed it, we don’t get them around here very often,” Sofield said. “All the work he’s done is paying off. He deserves it. He’s been through a lot and at this particular point his skills are better than this league. Hopefully he continues to prove it. He was just what we needed.”
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It is the second time in the last week that the Power have scored more than 10 runs and surprisingly Alen Hanson did not have much to do with Wednesday’s offensive outburst.
Hanson, who leads the South Atlantic League in hits and doubles and is near the top in several other offensive categories, reached on an error in the third inning and would later score (more on this in a bit) but failed to record a hit, going 0-for-5 in the win for West Virginia.
The Power broke the game open in the previously mentioned third inning on one of the stranger plays of the season. Willy Garcia smacked a pitch in to center field with the bases loaded, easily scoring Francisco Diaz and Hanson.
Taylor Lewis rounded third and appeared to lose his footing as the ball was coming in to Lakewood catcher Josh Ludy. With Lewis on the ground Ludy fired a throw to third but missed, badly, allowing Lewis and Garcia to score. Technically it is not an inside the park grand slam because of the error, but you can still file that one under “things you will not see everyday at a baseball game”.
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Several players got in on the fireworks for West Virginia on Wednesday. Lewis finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. Eric Avila hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning (his only hit of the game) and Diaz also homered for the Power in the seventh inning. Every player that batted for West Virginia on Wednesday scored at least once (Diaz led the team with three runs scored).
Relief pitcher Clario Perez pitched three strong innings en route to getting the save. Perez allowed one hit and registered three strikeouts while only issuing one walk.
Perez earned back some of the faith he lost with Sofield after his disaster of an outing on July 1. At Delmarva on Sunday the 19-year old Dominican Republic native lasted only two-thirds of an inning and gave up four runs on two hits (including a home run) and walked a batter before getting the hook.
Sofield said he wanted to give Perez another chance to prove what happened in Delmarva was an exception rather than the norm.
“The last time I saw him he was not very good at all,” Sofield said. “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that he’s got a good fastball and is live and has some good depth to the breaking ball. He’s a big physical bull but he’s got to be more prepared when he comes out. He wasn’t that last time and he seemed like he was this time. That’s why we gave it to him.”
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The win moves West Virginia back to .500 in the South Atlantic League’s second half at 7-7. That puts the team four games back of SAL Northern Division leaders Hickory and one game back of Hagerstown and Lakewood.
The Power resume its five-game series with Lakewood today with a scheduled start time of 7:05 p.m. Nick Kingham (1-5, 5.50 ERA) is projected as the West Virginia starting pitcher.