06/18/2008 – Daily News Record
Johnson’s Hit Nets 4-3 Victory Written By Marcus Helton Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – When he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning of his team’s Valley Baseball League game with Staunton Tuesday, all Harrisonburg center fielder Drew Johnson wanted to do was put the ball in play. He did that, and more. Johnson hit what amounted to a walk-off infield single to boost the Turks to a 4-3 win, as his comebacker to the mound bounced off the glove of Staunton pitcher Donald Howell to allow pinch-hitter Patrick Luehring to score the winning run. "When it kicked away from him, I knew we had it," Johnson said, "because I knew he didn’t have time to get the guy at home." The win was Harrisonburg’s fourth straight, and improved the Turks’ record to 6-9. Staunton fell to 6-7. "Maybe we’re living right," Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said. "Maybe things are starting to turn around for us a little bit. The first nine or ten games, we were getting no breaks whatsoever, and now we’re getting a few breaks." Harrisonburg grabbed a 2-0 lead on Appalachian State junior Brett Stewart’s two-run home run in the first inning, but Staunton battled back to take a 3-2 lead after eight, led by a two-run homer from Old Dominion’s Max Most. The Turks’ Landon Camp (Oklahoma City) led off the ninth inning with a solo homer to tie the game off of Howell (Bluefield), who was the sixth pitcher Staunton used. "It’s kind of hard seeing a different pitcher just about every inning," Camp said, "because you can never really get a feel for what’s going on. You can’t get a feel for a pitcher, but at the same time, it can be a really good thing, because if some guys really putting it you and they take him out, it can be a big-time rally-killer for them." That appeared to be the case in the ninth, when the Braves brought in Howell – one of the VBL’s reigning Pitchers of the Week – to replace Josh Squatrito (Towson), who had allowed just one hit while striking out four in 1 1/3 innings. After allowing Camp’s homer, Howell struck out B.J. Wheeler (Oklahoma State) and yielded a double to Luehring (Saint Joseph’s). Howell then walked former Turner Ashby High School catcher Josh Tutwiler (St. John’s) and Eastern Illinois’ Zach Skidmore to load the bases and bring Johnson up. "Our bullpen’s been good all year," Staunton coach Lance Mauck said. "That’s its first bad outing of the year, but it happens." Garrett Parker (Oklahoma City) pitched seven solid innings for the Turks, while Austin Sloan (Yavapai) picked up the win by throwing a hitless ninth. Staunton 010 000 200 – 3 5 1 Harrisonburg 200 000 001 – 4 9 1 Kale, Gillett (5), Oxley (6), Ferguson (7), Squatrito (7), Howell (9) and Stifler; Parker, Smith (8), Sloan (9) and Pericht, Tutwiler (8). W – Sloan (1-2). L- Howell (1-1). HR- S: Most (1). H: Stewart (1), Camp (3).