Cruz's walk-off single lifts Power to series finale win

West Virginia avoids first series sweep with 10-inning thriller

Oneil Cruz's walk-off single lifted West Virginia to an 8-7 win Friday night. (Chad Foreman)

By Media Relations / West Virginia Power | July 6, 2018 4:27 PM

CHARLESTON, WV (July 6, 2018) - Oneil Cruz hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning to give West Virginia an 8-7 win in the series finale, helping the Power avoid their first series sweep of the season at the hands of the Lexington Legends Friday night at Appalachian Power Park.

SUSPENDED GAME FROM JULY 5: LEXINGTON 7, WEST VIRGINIA 6 (F/9)

Max Kranick was perfect through the first three innings for West Virginia, striking out six of the nine batters he faced. Meanwhile, Lexington starter Garrett Davila worked around two walks and a fielder's choice to hold the Power hitless through three frames as well.  

Brewer Hicklen was able to reach to start the fourth inning after Kranick hit him with his first pitch of the frame. The next batter, MJ Melendez, singled to center while Hicklen advanced to third before the game was suspended due to rain. 

Elvis Escobar took over for Kranick when play resumed Friday and allowed both of his inherited runners to score. The first batter he faced, Nick Pratto, blooped a base hit into right field that plated Hicklen to give Lexington a 1-0 lead. After striking out Dennicher Carrasco and inducing a fly out from Manny Olloque, Escobar walked Cal Jones and then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Melendez to score.

West Virginia responded in the home half of the fourth though, tallying three runs against new Legends hurler Holden Capps. Following a strikeout by Fabricio Macias to start the frame, Rodolfo Castro singled before moving to third on a double by Ben Bengtson. The next batter, Chris Sharpe, grounded out to short, which brought in Castro from third for the Power's first run. Raul Siri then roped a double to center that scored Bengtson and Ryan Peurifoy followed that up with an RBI single to right that gave West Virginia a 3-2 edge.

In the fifth, however, Lexington roared back to life against Sergio CubileteThe righty struck out the first batter he contended with in Ricky Aracena, but Matt Morales then clubbed a home run to deep right field that tied the game at three. The Legends would tack on two more in the sixth on an RBI single from Marten Gasparini to snag a 5-3 lead.

The Power fired back in the bottom of the inning, as Sharpe and Siri worked walks against Capps to start the sixth. Capps then retired the next two batters in order, but Jesse Medrano stroked a two-out, two-run double to right-center that tied the game at five.

After both teams scored a run in the seventh, the Legends were able to scratch another run across in the eighth on a balk by Beau Sulser (3-4) to take a 7-6 lead that they would not relinquish.

Danny Hrbek (3-0) earned the win with 1.2 innings of relief, while Jacob Condra-Bogan (S, 2) secured his second save of the season in three tries.

GAME TWO: WEST VIRGINIA 8, LEXINGTON 7 (F/10)

West Virginia claimed a back-and-forth, extra-innings affair, 8-7, behind two extra-inning RBI from Oneil Cruz Friday night at Appalachian Power Park.

With the Power (9-6, 46-35) trailing 7-6 in the 10th, Ben Bengtson started the inning at second base. After Chris Sharpe lined out to left, Bengtson came around to score from an RBI single from Raul Hernandez, his second in extra innings. Ryan Peurifoy then singled to move runners to first and second before Kyle Watson worked a walk to load the bases. Lolo Sanchez grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out of the frame, but Cruz stroked the game-winner to left to plate Peurifoy and give West Virginia the win.

Cruz finished the evening 3-for-6 with a pair of RBI singles and a double. He drove home his 49th and 50th RBI of the season, which is among the leaders in the South Atlantic League. Sal Biasi (3-3) took the loss for Lexington (6-9, 43-40) after spinning 1.2 innings and allowing three runs in extras.

Joel Cesar (2-1) was once again a workhorse in extra frames for the Power, tossing all three extra innings, and despite allowing all three placed on runners to score, he secured his second victory.

West Virginia came out hungry in the nightcap. Cruz doubled to right-center field to lead-off the game before Rodolfo Castro smashed a two-run homer to right off Lexington starter Charlie Neuweiler for his eighth home run of the season and an early 2-0 Power lead.

Later in the frame with two outs, Sharpe was hit by a pitch. Hernandez then moved him to third with a single in his first at-bat with West Virginia since returning from the disabled list. Sharpe then scored off a passed ball to give the Power a 3-0 edge..

The Legends would not go quietly though, tallying a run in the second on Cal Jones' RBI double to cut West Virginia's lead to 3-1.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Power answered the call. Sanchez hit a ground-rule double before Castro drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Calvin Mitchell then clocked a two-out RBI single between third and short to bring the Power's lead to 4-1.

However, Lexington rallied back. After tacking on a run in the third, Seuly Matias launched his SAL-leading 25th homer of the season off Hunter Stratton in the fifth to knot the game at four.

Stratton finished with a no-decision after hurling five innings and allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Samuel Reyes locked down the Legends for the following two innings, ceding just two hits and striking out a pair of batters.

In extra innings, Cal Jones started the scoring with a single to score the inherited run in the eighth inning as Manny Olloque, who started the inning at second, came home with two outs. The call was answered by Hernandez though, as he doubled in Bengtson with one out to knot the game at five and send it to the ninth.

The two teams again traded runs in the ninth. MJ Melendez hit a sacrifice fly to score Matt Morales before West Virginia tied it back up with a Cruz RBI knock that brought in Watson.

West Virginia continues its six-game homestand Saturday night with the opener of a three-game series against the Hagerstown Suns, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. from Appalachian Power Park. RHP Cody Bolton (3-1, 2.86 ERA) takes the mound for the Power, while Hagerstown counters with righty Jackson Tetreault (2-7, 4.73 ERA). Pregame coverage begins at 5:45 p.m. on The Jock 1300 and 1340 AM, as well as online at www.wvpower.com and via the TuneIn Radio App and MiLB First Pitch App.

Help the West Virginia Power strike out Pancreatic Cancer Saturday night. The Power will don their purple jerseys Saturday, with select jerseys available at auction to help benefit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Also, the first 1,000 fans in attendance for Saturday's game will receive a t-shirt, courtesy of Todd Judy Ford. Finally, before Saturday's game, come see Thomas Danley perform during Happy Hour at the Budweiser Dugout Bar from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., with $1.00 12-ounce drafts available for purchase. For tickets and more information, call the Power at 304-344-2287 or visit wvpower.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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