7/19/2007 – Daily News Record
Turks End Mini-Skid, Beating Lumberjacks, 4-2 Written By Dustin Dopirak Daily News Record HARRISONBURG — For a moment in the first inning of Wednesday’s game, Ryan Ellison looked like he wanted to crawl back in the dugout. The Harrisonburg Turks’ right-hander had committed a gaffe that was both humiliating and costly. With a man on first base and no one out in the inning, Ellison slipped off the rubber and was called for a balk. The runner moved to second, then scored two batters later on a single by Covington designated hitter Kevin Thulin to give the Lumberjacks a 1-0 lead. "That’s what I was mad at myself for," said Ellison, a rising senior at Troy. "… The rubber was very slippery. I came up in my leg kick, my cleat slipped and I couldn’t throw the ball, so obviously I got a balk called and it ended up scoring a run." But there weren’t many slip-ups for Ellison after that. He struck out 11 batters while scattering five hits in a complete-game victory Wednesday night, leading the Turks to a 4-2 victory that snapped their three-game losing skid. After Thulin’s single, Ellison didn’t allow Covington (15-20) another hit until the sixth inning, and yielded just one between the first and the ninth. The Lumberjacks’ only other run came in the ninth, when Ellison left a fastball up in the zone to Covington’s Kevin Bishop (Kentucky), and Bishop blasted it over the left-field wall. In between, however, Ellison allowed just three runners to reach base. "Ryan just pitched a great ballgame," Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said. "He did a great job for us tonight. Anytime he’s on the mound, he’s going to give you everything he has." And the Turks (23-11) needed exactly that. After holding on to first place in the Valley League for much of the first half of the season, then seesawing with Waynesboro for a stretch, the Turks entered Wednesday’s contest three games back. They needed a big outing and they got it from Ellison. "It was really huge," designated hitter Andrew Franco (Appalachian State) said. "We hadn’t been playing that well and to have a guy go out there and just chew up innings, and it wasn’t even chewing them up, he was mowed guys down tonight. He did a great job. Big time." He did it by deftly mixing his overpowering fastball with a plummeting 12-6 curveball and a change-up that froze hitters that were looking for the other two. He was able to throw all three of those pitches in the zone, tossing 78 of his 125 pitches for strikes. "He could throw any pitch in any count for a strike," catcher John Murphy (Arizona) said. "I had no problem throwing down a 2-0, 2-1 curveball because I knew he’d throw it for a strike. He just rolled on through." The Turks also benefited from timely situational hitting, something they hadn’t seen much of in recent games. Franco scored their first run in the second inning after leading off with a double and moving to third on a passed ball. Murphy made sure the Turks didn’t waste the opportunity, hitting an 0-1 pitch to second for an RBI groundout. Left fielder Alex Lyons (Taft), the next batter, singled to center, then moved to third when center fielder Sammy Lee (Redlands CC) singled to right. Second baseman Travis Peep (Arizona) grounded to short, and Lyons scored the Turks’ second run. Harrisonburg got another run in the fifth when third baseman Brett Stewart (Appalachian State) drove in shortstop Ryan Wood (East Carolina) from third with a sacrifice fly. Peep capped the scoring in the fourth, coming home from third when first baseman David Dennis (Oklahoma City) grounded into a fielder’s choice at second base. "[Tuesday night] was the exact antithesis of what we did tonight," Franco said. "[Tuesday night] we’d have guys in scoring position and we didn’t come up with the ground ball we needed or we’d strike out or we wouldn’t hit the pop fly deep enough. Tonight, it just seemed like we played baseball the way we played the first 20 games of the season." Covington 100 000 001 — 2 5 0 Harrisonburg 020 010 10x — 4 9 0 Hirsch, Ellison (8) and Dombrowski; Ellison and Murphy. W-Ellison (3-1). L-Hirsch (1-2). HR-C-Bishop.