8/03/2007 – Daily News Record
After Post-Season Collapse, Many Harrisonburg Players Interested In Returning Written By Matthew Stoss Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – The day after the Harrisonburg Turks were eliminated from the Valley Baseball League playoffs was a busy one for Bob Wease. The organization’s owner and manager sat behind his desk at Wease Auto fingering through legal pads and spiral notebooks figuring out how the remaining players will get home. But if Wease, who said 10 have already left, finds himself sentimental or weepy at their sudden absence, he’s only got nine months before he sees most of them of again. "Everybody who could come back told me they wanted to," said Wease, who potentially may return all of his starting position players except first baseman David "Moose" Dennis. Dennis (Okalahoma City University) is out of eligibility. Wease said the Turks, who finished the regular season in second place behind the Waynesboro Generals with a record of 28-16, could bring back the highest number of players since he took over. "If I can return all those guys – and seven or eight of the pitchers – this team could be very good," he said. This year’s pitchers led the VBL with a team-low 2.37 ERA, with closer Garrett Parker posting a 0.00 mark until Wednesday’s matchup in Game 2 of the VBL quarterfinals with the Covington Lumberjacks. The right-hander, who’ll play at Oklahoma City next season, surrendered his first runs of the season in the Turks’ 4-1 loss. "That streak had to run out," Wease said. "Garrett did a heck of a job, but it was just a matter of time." But Parker, who finished the season with an 0.84 ERA, 28 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings and a team-high eight saves, wasn’t the only reason second-seeded Harrisonburg was upset in the first round of the playoffs. "We just couldn’t hit the last 10 days of the season," Wease said. Despite the second-highest team batting average in the league (.260), the Turks managed only three runs in their final three games – all losses to Covington, the last two coming in the playoffs. In Harrisonburg’s final game Wednesday, it’s lone run came when center fielder Jon Moore (Purdue) scored on a wild pitch. The Turks were also hurt by two errors in the seventh inning that scored two runs. The Lumberjacks scored two more runs on a single. "We didn’t execute," Dennis said after Wednesday’s loss. "All the around we didn’t execute. It just wasn’t one position." Wease’s theory on the late-season sputtering out dealt with fatigue. "I honestly think the guys got tired," he said. "These guys play 65 games in college and 45 here. That’s a big league schedule – and sometimes it’s worse with the rainouts." Among the players Wease said expressed interest returning were home run leader B.J. Wheeler (Oklahoma State), who hit six. While Dennis led the team in RBIs with 23, Wheeler and Brett Stewart (Appalachian State) could be the returning leaders with 21 each. Robert Taylor (Arkansas-Little Rock) – the team’s leading hitter who sat out Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle – hit .352 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. He is also eligible to come back. On the pitching end, Tim Wheeler (Troy), who said after Wednesday’s game that he’d be interested in returning to Harrisonburg for a third season, posted a 1.76 ERA and went 3-4. Wease said Ashur Tolliver (Arkansas-Little Rock), who went 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA also wanted to return. Other pitchers Wease mentioned, as possibilities for next season were Chris Chapman (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community), Jim Kennedy (Rider) and Chase Sonen (Saint Joseph). But after the last his 2007 Turks leave town, Wease gets return to what he’s neglected the past few months. "I get to get back into the car business," Wease said.