6/23/2007 – Daily News Record
Carries Turks Over Luray, 6-1 Written By Mike Barber Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – Ashur Tolliver found the strike zone and he attacked it. Luray’s hitters? They struggled to find it and never protected it. Tolliver allowed just one run on three hits in eight innings as first-place Harrisonburg beat Luray 6-1 on Friday in a Valley League baseball game – the Turks fifth straight victory. "I was throwing a lot of strikes with my first pitch," Tolliver said. "That’s the key." Taking advantage of a generous strike zone – and a Luray lineup that never adjusted to it – Tolliver struck out 13 while walking just one in eight innings. He pounded the strike zone early, getting ahead in counts and then throwing a high strike that home plate umpire Travis Rose consistently called, much to the chagrin of the Luray hitters. "We can’t have at-bats and let the umpire dictate what’s going on," Luray manager Mike Bocock said. "Whether he’s right or wrong, we didn’t get aggressive. You can’t leave runners in scoring position standing there with the bat on your shoulder." Of Tolliver’s first 27 pitches, 20 were strikes. He threw 102 pitches in total before Garrett Parker relieved him and threw a perfect ninth inning. The game’s final batter, Brett Rossi, watched as Parker’s 2-2 pitch sailed into the catcher’s mitt for a called third strike. Befuddled by his team’s failure to get more aggressive at the plate, Bocock lingered in the third base coach’s box with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. "I wasn’t as unhappy with the umpire as I was at our approach of letting our at-bats be dictated by the umpire’s calls," Bocock said. "However big the strike zone is, you’ve got to make your adjustments and take your hacks as scheduled. If a guy’s calling it, you’ve got to start swinging at it." Standing in the Turks’ locker room after the game, Tolliver praised Rose’s strike zone as steady and said that once it was apparent he was calling high strikes, Tolliver went there for strikeouts. "I really thought he stayed consistent the whole game," Tolliver said. "When I threw it down, he didn’t call it down. When I threw it up, he called it up. He didn’t give a whole lot on the corner, but he did like it up and he stayed there the whole game, stayed consistent." Harrisonburg second baseman Travis Peep starred at the plate and in the field. Peep went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. In the second inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Peep hit what looked like a routine grounder to Rossi, Luray’s second baseman. Rossi let the ball scoot under his glove for an error, allowing two runs to score. "Their kid pitched an outstanding game," Bocock said. "I don’t want to overshadow that when I say our errors beat us. … You can’t win when one goes through the wickets with bases loaded. You make that play and it’s a 1-0 game. That’s what it should have been." The next inning, Peep made an outstanding defensive play. With a runner on first and no one out, Peep dove and caught a grounder hit back up the middle by Adam Severino. Peep flipped the ball out of his glove to shortstop Ryan Wood, who bare-handed it and nearly completed the double-play, but Severino beat the throw to first. "The guys are coming out to play – they really are," Harrisonburg manager/owner Bob Wease said. "Travis Peep made two or three major league plays tonight." Luray got on the board with an RBI triple by Tyler Kuhn in the top of the eighth inning. That run snapped the Turks’ streak of 31 consecutive scoreless innings. The last run a Harrisonburg pitcher allowed came in the third inning of a 5-1 win at Front Royal on June 18. In its half of the eighth, Harrisonburg (12-3) put the game away. The Turks scored three runs, the first on an RBI double by Peep. Former Turner Ashby High School star Justin Miller, now at Ohio State, went 1-for-3 for Luray (9-7). Luray starter Eli Villanueva was a hard-luck loser, pitching seven innings, surrendering three runs – just one of which was earned – while striking out seven and walking one. Luray 000 000 010 – 1 3 3 Harrisonburg 120 000 03x – 6 6 1 Villanueva, Roque and Miller; Tolliver, Parker (9) and Pericht. W- Tolliver (2-0). L- Villanueva (0-2).