Last night, Cole White hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the West Virginia Power a 2-1 victory over the Lexington Legends.
“I could barely sleep,” White said about his homer. “I kept on replaying it in my head. It was the first time I’ve ever hit a walk off home run in my entire life.”
Tonight, for an encore, White came through in the eighth inning of a 3-3 tie game, hitting a two out double to the gap that brought in Justin Howard. The run was all West Virginia needed, with Porfirio Lopez coming on for the save in the ninth inning.
“Maybe only one time a season you get to be the clutch hitter, and two nights in a row, that was awesome,” White said.
Colton Cain took the mound for West Virginia tonight, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits in five innings. Cain didn’t have his best stuff tonight, throwing in the upper 80s, and leaving several balls up in the zone. That led to a few hard hit fly balls that stayed in the park, and three walks on the night.
“He was really, really good in the first,” West Virginia manager Gary Robinson said about Cain. “I think he might be a little tired. But he battled his fanny off. I’m really proud of the way that he battled. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he did a hell of a job pitching with the stuff that he had.”
Cain started off with an easy inning in the first, striking out the first batter he saw, and following that up with a ground out and a pop out. After getting two outs to start the second, he allowed a hard hit double, followed by a single, bringing in his first run, and only earned run, of the game.
The Power offense gave him some room to work with the inning before. Drew Maggi led off the bottom of the first inning with a single through the right side of the infield. With one out, Maggi stole second base, his 16th stolen base of the year. After a long at-bat by Mel Rojas Jr. ended up in a pop out, Justin Howard came to the plate. Howard took the first pitch he saw, sending it over the left-center field wall to put West Virginia up 2-0.
“Rojas had a great at-bat before me. Even though he ended up getting out, he saw a lot of pitches,” Howard said of his at-bat. “I’m sure the pitcher was mentally and physically a little tired from that, so he started going up for me, and I put a good swing on it.”
Colton Cain allowed the run in the top of the second, but settled down for the next two innings. In each inning, Cain got the first two batters, issued a two out walk, but escaped the inning with a fly out. Each of the two-out walks came with a lot of pitches that were high and out of the strike zone.
West Virginia added an insurance run in the fourth inning. With runners at first and second, and no outs, Kawika Emsley-Pai laid down a sacrifice bunt. The Lexington pitcher came up with it, and had a moment of indecision on where he would throw the ball. He decided to throw to first, but threw high, drawing the first baseman off the bag to put Emsley-Pai on. Kevin Mort hit a fly ball to the right-center gap in the next at-bat to bring in the only run of the inning, making it 3-1 West Virginia.
Colton Cain entered the fifth inning and put two on with one out, after a single and his third walk of the night. He almost got out of the jam with a ground ball to third baseman Eric Avila. Avila threw to Kevin Mort at second, who threw wild to first, not only allowing the runner to reach, but allowing a run to score. Cain was able to bounce back, getting his third strikeout of the night to end the inning.
Overall, Cain didn’t have his best stuff. He was working in the upper 80s, and I don’t think I saw him top 89. He was also leaving a few balls up in the zone, but managed to escape without any major damage. He did have some nice pitches, and wasn’t afraid to go inside, both with left handers and with right handers.
“I think it’s just a tired arm,” manager Gary Robinson said about Cain being up in the zone tonight. “Guys get them from time to time. They have to learn to pitch through them, which is exactly what he did tonight. He gave us a quality outing, without his best stuff.”
Casey Sadler came on for the sixth inning with a 3-2 lead, and quickly gave up a solo homer, tying the score at 3-3. That was the only hit allowed for Sadler, who stayed in for two more innings, lowering his ERA to 3.41 on the year.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the score tied 3-3, Justin Howard battled to get on base with a walk. That brought up Cole White. White saw a pitch on the outside, and took it the other way with a liner to the gap.
“He put a pretty good swing on a pretty good pitch too,” Robinson said about the hit. “Pitch was away, he stayed with it, and hit it where he was supposed to hit it.”
Justin Howard hustled around the bases, and was sent home with the throw coming in from the outfield. The relay was high to the catcher right as Howard slid on the back side of the plate with the go-ahead run, putting West Virginia up 4-3.
“I don’t think there was any doubt in anybody’s mind that we were going to try and score him,” Robinson said of Howard scoring from first on the play.
Porfirio Lopez, who was just demoted from Bradenton today, came on to pitch the ninth inning. Lopez had an easy outing, with the left hander working in the 88-91 MPH, and touching 92 on the final pitch of the game, a fly out to left field to give West Virginia the win.
The Power take on Lexington tomorrow at 7:05 PM in game three of this four game series. Jameson Taillon will take the mound for the first time since June 14th, when he allowed one run in 4.1 innings, with eight strikeouts. Taillon isn’t expected to go much more than three innings, and will probably be limited to 40-50 pitches, due to the long layoff. I’ll be covering the game, and providing reports of Taillon’s performance on the site and on Twitter.
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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.