Turks Add Two More ‘Mooses’

6/13/2006 – Daily News Record

Daily News Record Written By Joe Lemire After slow start, Harrisonburg has won three straight. As one Woodstock fan quipped Sunday night, it appears the Harrisonburg Turks are assembling a team of linebackers rather than a club of baseball players. Turks coach Bob Wease has referred to the "mooses" on his squad so often that a few fans told him they ordered moose horns to blow during the sluggers’ at-bats. The team’s reputation grew, quite literally, on Monday with the addition of two behemoths from Troy University: Josh Dew and Clint Robinson. Both are 6-foot-5 and weigh at least 220 pounds, and for Robinson, who was a member of the Turks for two weeks last summer, hearing moose horns might be a better omen than what he heard immediately before he suffered a season-ending injury. "It was ironic," Robinson said. "It was the day I found out that I had gotten Player of the Week for the week before, and they announced it the inning before I got up to hit. I said, ‘Oh [shoot], something bad’s about to happen now.’" Sure enough, in that at-bat he took an inside pitch off his left hand, which broke a bone and abruptly put an end to Robinson’s summer in Harrisonburg and the NCAA-sanctioned Valley League. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for the then-hot Robinson, who during his award-winning week batted .545 with 12 hits, five doubles and 11 RBIs. Still, Robinson enjoyed his brief experience in the Shenandoah Valley and urged Dew to join him this summer. At first, Dew wasn’t sure he even wanted to be play summer ball after a bad experience the previous year playing in the M.I.N.K. League – a circuit for collegiate players spanning Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. But Dew decided to give it a shot after urging from Robinson and Troy assistant Mark Smartt, who formerly coached in the Valley League. "Bob’s going to love him," Robinson said of Dew. "He’s going to be happy with what he gets." All Dew did for the Trojans was hit .317 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs and use his mid-90 mph fastball to go 5-1 with seven saves and a 2.98 ERA as a relief pitcher. Along with Robinson (.343, 8 HR, 38 RBIs), he helped power Troy to a 47-16 record, the Sun Belt Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament regionals. Besides the fact that both players are of almost identical size, call Alabama home and star for the Trojans, the two also can stake claim to another key similarity: they’re both first basemen. At Troy, Robinson began the season at that position before a hamstring injury sidelined him and paved the way for Dew, who at the time was primarily a reserve. By the time Robinson recovered, the Trojans were in the midst of a 12-game winning streak – en route to 20 wins in 21 games – so Dew remained at first and Robinson shifted to be the designated hitter except when Dew was pitching. "We want to win baseball games, and [we’ll do] whatever it takes to do that," Robinson said. "As long as I’m in the lineup and he’s in the lineup, I’m happy." Despite vying for playing time at the same position, the two men said it never caused any friction. "We’re good friends, and it wasn’t anything real too competitive," said Dew, who played at L.B. Wallace Community College before transferring. To make matters even more complicated this summer, the Turks already have a giant first baseman in 6-foot-5, 245-pound David Dennis of San Diego City College, who is hitting .435 with five RBIs in his first 23 at-bats. As a result, Wease is going to get a little creative with his lineups by shifting Dew to third base and splitting time at first between Robinson and Dennis, with the other serving as the DH. Robinson also volunteered to learn the outfield, where he hasn’t played since high school. "We’ll have all three of them in the lineup some way, somehow," Wease said. Dew and Robinson are joining a Harrisonburg team that seems to have hit its stride with a three-game winning streak after starting the year with six straight losses. The Turks never scored more than three runs in any of their losses but have pounded out 11, seven and nine runs in their three wins – numbers sure to go up even more with the two Trojans’ bats in the lineup. The only cause for anxiety on Dew’s part was the idea of joining a team whose season is already in progress, especially since this is his first-ever trip to this part of the country. "It was weird. On the ride up here, my ears were popping in the mountains," Dew said. "My truck runs different because the air is thinner or something. I don’t know, that’s what my dad was saying. I’ve never really been up here. … Alabama South and this South is a little bit different." But if his production in Alabama matches his production in the Valley, he’ll fit right in real quick.


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