NIAGARA FALLS — The Power are finally heating up.
The Niagara Power took their matchup with the Genesee Rapids on Tuesday, 11-1, at Sal Maglie Stadium, forcing the new New York Collegiate Baseball League mercy rule of being up 10 runs after the seventh inning. The win is the Power's third straight.
The game was decided by Adam Purdy's sacrifice fly, which sent Dennis Gagliardo home in the bottom of the seventh inning. Gagliardo was all over, going 1 for 3 with one RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored.
Falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the Power charged back with a seven-run second and bolstered their lead with three in the fourth. The Rapids shot themselves in the foot all night — Genesee had two errors in Niagara's big second and four overall.
Pitching duties for the Power were handled by Alex Friesen and Max Alers. Friesen (four strikeouts, two hits, one run) was credited for the win and Alers (zero hits, zero runs allowed) came in for relief at the top of the fifth.
Leading the offense was outfielder Eric Wentz, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Wentz has been hot to start and is now atop of the NYCBL with a .565 batting average.
Wentz, an Ohio native and Kent State baseball player, is enjoying his time in Western New York and being around his new team.
"It's been a blessing to play here. These guys are awesome, I love the atmosphere," Wentz said. "... It's a little early (but) I'm glad we're starting to get hot here. We've come together as a family. We're starting to mesh together, our chemistry's great and our hitting's starting to get hot. So it's awesome."
Head coach Arthur Stenberg acknowledged Niagara's defensive showing Tuesday — the Power didn't commit an error — and how well his infield played as a unit. He sees his team gelling well and said the pieces are falling into place even so early into the season.
"It's nice to see a little bit of pitching click, some hitters come around," Stenburg said. " ... We're putting things together. It's fun to watch. ... When we got here, it was four days of a lot of defensive work, a lot of swings trying to get them into the rhythm. It's taken a little while for these guys to get to know each other but they're coming around and they're having a good time. They're pulling for each other and we're playing as team."
The third straight win sets the Power at a 5-4-1 record on the season and drops the Rapids to 6-7. Currently in second place in the NYCBL's Western division, Niagara will get back in action on Wednesday when they travel to take on the Syracuse Spartans in a doubleheader. The teams will battle at Wallace Field, with the first game scheduled for 2:30 p.m.