6/14/05 – Daily News Record
By DUSTIN DOPIRAK Daily News-Record Bob Wease was disgusted when he saw the number seven in the error column for the Harrisonburg Turks after their 11-3 loss at Haymarket Sunday night. And as much as that hurt, the Turks manager knew the official scorer was letting his team off easy. "We actually made 11," Wease said Monday. "It was so ugly it was unbelievable." What makes it worse is that it’s part of a trend. The Turks made six errors in Saturday night’s 11-0 loss to Luray. They made just one in each of their wins over Front Royal Thursday and Friday, but made four in their 5-1 loss to Luray Wednesday and three in their 11-4 loss to Haymarket Tuesday. That’s one of the primary reasons why the Turks are struggling at 4-5 — it’s their worst start since 2000 when they started 4-7 — and are two games behind Covington in the Valley Baseball League’s South Division going into today’s 7:30 p.m. game against New Market (8-1) at Memorial Stadium. Even before Sunday night’s game, the errors had led to 14 unearned runs. "We just can’t seem to catch [the ball]," Wease said. "I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys." Beyond that, Wease says the Turks are also making mistakes on the basepaths, running themselves out of potential big innings. "We’re just not focused out there," he said. "We’re having guys getting picked off the bases. We had a play the other day where one of our guys was trying to go from second to third on a pitch that bounced in front of the catcher. He got caught in a rundown and then the runner on first got thrown out, so they got a double play on a wild pitch. You just can’t have mistakes like that." Help is on the way. Arizona pitchers Matt Baugh, Brad Mills and Sean Jarrett have still not arrived in Harrisonburg after the Wildcats lost to Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA tournament regional at Fullerton. Ohio State left-hander Jeff Carroll was also held up by the Buckeyes’ NCAA run, which ended after three games at the Corvallis, Ore., regional. Florida State second baseman Tony Thomas, Jr. and the Seminoles were just eliminated in the Super Regional by Florida on Saturday, so he has not yet arrived. Late addition Scott Cousins, an outfielder from the University of San Francisco, did not arrive in Harrisonburg until Monday night. Also, Indiana outfielder Zach Boswell has apparently wavered on his commitment to join the Turks. Boswell, who hit .359 with eight home runs and 53 RBIs this season for the Hoosiers, had not yet joined the team as of Monday. "We don’t know yet," Wease said. "He’s hanging out a little bit. I should know this week." Except for that situation, however, Wease knew what he was facing and still expected to be in better shape by this point. "We don’t have our right team," Wease said, "but I thought we had enough players to win." Because of those problems, the Turks have lost chances to take advantage of their strengths. Though they have struggled at the plate at times, hitting .235 as a team through Saturday, they have started to improve, rapping out 11 hits Sunday. Their pitching has been more than adequate. Going into Sunday’s game, they had a respectable team earned run average of 3.73 and held opponents to a batting average of .228. The starters have been especially effective. Left-hander Stephen Ochs, (Florida State) is 2-0 and has yet to allow an earned run in 12 innings while striking out 12 batters. Fellow lefty Shawn Benson (Yavapai Junior College) is also 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Right-hander Eric Fussel (St. Joseph’s) sports a barely existent 0.96 ERA, though a lack of run support (three runs in two starts) and spotty defense behind him (seven errors, five unearned runs) has given him an 0-2 record. "They’ve been great," third baseman Brett Munster (California) said of the starting pitchers. "They’ve been phenomenal. They’ve kept us in ball games." Said Wease: "The pitching’s been great. We’ve just gotta get these guys to stop making errors." That will happen, the Turks say, when they relax and stop trying to do too much. "We’re trying to do more than we’re physically capable of doing," catcher Matt Sluder (James Madison) said. "We’re trying to make plays that can not possibly be made. We’re throwing the ball when guys are almost all the way up the line, and that’s when the ball ends up sailing everywhere." Said outfielder Lucas DeLong (San Francisco): "Everybody’s just trying to make every play perfect. We just have to relax and do what we’ve been doing all of our careers. That’s the reason they brought us out here in the first place." The Turks aren’t in panic mode yet, however. With 44 games on the schedule, they have played just over one-fifth of their schedule. Plus, the last time the Turks had a start this bad in 2000, they went on to win the Valley League championship, which they haven’t done since. "We’re going to be OK," Wease said. "We’re going to be fine as wine when all of these guys settle in."