06/03/2008 – Daily News Record
Written By Dustin Dopirak Daily New Record Pericht Homers In 6-3 Win Over Rebs HARRISONBURG – Mike Pericht ripped a 1-2 inside fastball over the left field wall and the Harrisonburg Turks finally let out a collective deep breath. The goal for the college postseason tournament-ravaged Turks this first week was to simply keep their heads above water as they waited for reinforcements. However, losses in their first two games – by a frightening combined score of 23-5 – gave them reason to wonder if they weren’t going to drown before they had anything close to a full roster. But Pericht’s first-inning three-run homer and a strong outing by right-hander Greg Bartleski sparked the Turks to a 6-3 win over New Market on Monday night in a Valley Baseball League game, stemming the losing streak at two. "It’s just great," Turks owner/manager Bob Wease said. "My goal was to play .500 ball the first eight games. If we could play 4-4 the first eight, I’d just be tickled to death. We only have six pitchers, so if you could just stay 4-4, you’ve done something." The short pitching staff is only part of the dilemma. With players from Arizona, James Madison, Bethune-Cookman, Eastern Illinois, Rider, St. John’s, Oklahoma City University, and even Hagerstown Community College, all still out because of postseason tournaments, the Turks have just 16 players available with a 25-man roster. Two of those, Bridgewater College second baseman Aaron Read and Potomac State right-hander Jon Vallen, a Mount Jackson native and former Central star, were recently added because of the player shortage. But the Turks did just fine with a small team Monday night, especially once Pericht provided a lift. The sophomore catcher from Saint Joseph’s in Indiana came up with two on and two out in the first with the Turks down 1-0 and pounded New Market right-hander Steve Owens’ offering well over the left-field fence. "Actually, it was a pretty good pitch," Pericht said. "It was an inside fastball, I just tried to get my hands through get a piece of it an put it in play with two strikes. I ended up getting enough of it and was able to elevate it out of the park." The Turks then built on the lead in the third when right fielder Michael Precise, a junior from Troy, hit another homer to make it 4-1. "First pitch, he gave me a fastball down the middle," Precise said. "I was able to relax and let the hands go and let it carry on out of here. It was over the middle of the plate and I was able to center it up." New Market (1-2) cut the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the fourth, but Harrisonburg got insurance runs on an RBI single by Patrick Luehring (Saint Joseph’s) in the fifth and another by center fielder Chris Murphy (Southern Illinois) in the sixth. Meanwhile, Bartleski got over some early control problems and cruised. He allowed an RBI single to New Market first baseman Murray Watts (Arkansas State) in the first, then hit a runner and walked a runner, each with the bases loaded, to allow those two runs to score in the fourth. But at that point, he made an adjustment with his curveball at the behest of Turks pitching coach Jacob Cook, a former James Madison left-hander who spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays organization last year and was recently cut from an independent league stint. He cruised from the fifth through the eighth, allowing just two singles in that period and keeping a runner from reaching second base. He finished with four strikeouts in eight innings, allowing just five hits while walking four. "I didn’t have it the first few innings," said Bartleski, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound Charlottesville native who plays at the University of the South. "But I just had to settle down and find my curveball there in the later innings. … Coach Cook told me to start it up at the guy’s shoulder and it worked for me from there." Said Pericht: "Really, once we got into the fifth and the sixth, he really started clicking. He actually got pop on his ball, his curveball was moving well. He threw well. He battled for us until he got loose, and once he got loose, he was on." New Market 100 200 000 – 3 5 2 Harrisonburg 301 011 000 – 6 9 1 Owens, Seymour (5), Zappacosta (7) and Davis; Bartleski, Sloan (9) and Pericht. W – Bartleski (1-0). L – Owens (0-1). S – Sloan (1). HR – H: Pericht (NA), Precise (NA).