CHARLESTON — After 20 months of dormancy, professional baseball returned to Appalachian Power Park Friday night as the West Virginia Power played its inaugural game in the independent Atlantic League.
From the start — heck, even before the start — it was not a pretty picture for the Power.
Day-long rain delayed the start of the game, and when it got underway, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs scored early and often, running away for a 12-3 win.
The Blue Crabs scored in every inning but the first and ninth, and a five-run seventh inning pretty much sealed the Power’s doom. Dario Pizzano led Southern Maryland’s 15-hit attack, going 4 for 5 with three runs and three RBI.
Arik Sikula, the former high school ace at South Charleston and Hurricane who also pitched at Marshall University, got the start for the Power and was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked just one, but allowed home runs to Pizzano and Josh McAdams.
The Blue Crabs scored one run in the second inning, two in the third, one each in the fourth, fifth and sixth before erupting for five in the seventh — extending their lead to 11-2 — and added one more in the ninth.
Southern Maryland’s Daryl Thompson, the reigning Atlantic League pitcher of the year, got the win after allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits in six innings. Thompson struck out eight and walked one
Former Pittsburgh Pirate Jose Tabata was the hitting star for the Power, going 3 for 3 with two doubles and a walk. Tabata, who played left field and batted sixth in the lineup, had a hand in two of the Power’s three runs, scoring in the third inning and driving in the Power’s second run in the sixth inning with his second double.
Leadoff batter Scott Kelly, No. 2 hitter Rubi Silva and No. 9 hitter Teodoro Martinez also had multi-hit games for the Power, each going 2 for 4. Silva drove in West Virginia’s final run in the seventh with an RBI single, scoring Martinez, who doubled with one out. The Power finished with 10 hits.
The Power trailed 6-2 after six before Southern Maryland pulled away with its five-run seventh.
Blue Claws shortstop Kent Blackstone — the nephew of Power Community Ambassador and “Toastman” Rod Blackstone — got the big inning started with a solo home run. David Harris added a two-run double and two Southern Maryland runs crossed the plate on a wild pitch and a throwing error.
Game two of the season-opening series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Aaron Blair, a first-round draft pick out of Marshall, will pitch for the Power.
POWER POINTS: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin followed up with a second first pitch. ... Other dignitaries on hand for the pregame ceremonies included Atlantic League President Rick White. Landau Eugene Murphy sang the national anthem.