7/1/2006 – Daily News Record
Daily News Record Written by Joe Lemire Harrisonburg loses 7-3 Harrisonburg third baseman Kyle Spraker, right, runs down the Staunton Braves Ryan Engelhardt between second and third base in the second inning Friday night. Photo by Michael Reilly Staunton starter Casey Kebodeaux pitched fewer than 10 innings as a University of Alabama freshman. He never saw the mound at all this spring, taking a redshirt year. The Harrisonburg Turks probably wished that redshirt extended into summer ball. Kebodeaux spotted his fastball all over a wide strike zone at Memorial Stadium on Friday night, striking out 11 Turks in seven shutout innings as the Braves rolled to a 7-3 win, breaking a second-place tie between Staunton and Harrisonburg in the Valley Baseball League’s Southern Division. "He hid the ball a little bit," Turks manager Bob Wease said of Kebodeaux. "He was very sneaky. He was very deliberate and slow with his wind-up, but the ball just burst on you 10 feet away. He had a lot of tail." The last time the Turks (11-10) saw Kebodeaux – for one inning of relief on June 13 – the Mandeville, La., native allowed three runs and didn’t exhibit any of the command he featured Friday. With something to prove to the Crimson Tide pitching staff, Kebodeaux allowed four hits and three walks, but no Turk base runner reached third base. "That’s what I like doing is starting," Kebodeaux said. "I didn’t feel real comfortable in relief. I came up here to prove myself and get in the starting rotation." Harrisonburg’s Shawn Joy entered the contest as one of the team’s most reliable starters, but he had trouble in the early innings, allowing four hits and two runs to Staunton (12-9) in the second inning and three hits and two runs in the third. "I wasn’t throwing any of my offspeed pitches for strikes," Joy, a left-hander from Southern Illinois, said. "I don’t have overpowering stuff, so if I can’t get that over, I’m in a lot of trouble. They put a lot of balls in play and found some holes. I didn’t have my good stuff today." The Braves collected 13 hits – 12 of which were singles – and benefited from four costly Turks’ errors, which led to two unearned runs. Leadoff hitter Chris Wilkins didn’t fulfill his primary role of scoring runs but swung the bat very well and went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Staunton manager Lance Mauck’s decision to relieve Kebodeaux with Andy Svitak in the eighth inning was clearly a welcome sight for the Turks, who loaded the bases with two outs for Ryan Rachal. The centerfielder roped an inside fastball into deep right-center for a bases-clearing double, but those would be the only runs the Turks would get. "It’s summer ball and it’d be easy to give up, but we just kept on battling," Rachal of Oklahoma City University said. "I like that – it’s great to see in a team. … You’re playing here to get better and get better for your school where you’re going, so it’d be easy to give up, but these guys take it seriously." The top six hitters in Harrisonburg’s lineup accounted for all seven of its hits – only first baseman David Dennis had two – but, with the exception of the eighth inning, Staunton’s pitching scattered the hits and minimized the damage. "I think their middle guys are probably the best in the league, personally, and they’re tough outs," Mauck said. "We have a strategy to go against them – I can’t tell you what it is – but it’s worked for us." Staunton has now won four of its five meetings with Harrisonburg, though Wease has been encouraged by the games. "Every game we’ve played, with the exception of one, we’ve been right in the game," Wease said. "This could easily have been a 3-3 game going into the ninth, but we just didn’t seem to have the intensity." Staunton 022 001 020 — 7 13 0 Harrisonburg 000 000 030 — 3 7 4 Kebodeaux, Svitak (8), McGahey (9) and Engelhardt; Joy, Wells (8), Vallen (9) and Denker, Morales (9). W – Kebodeaux (1-0). L – Joy (1-4). HR – None.