07/11/2008 – Daily News Record
Written By Mike Barber HARRISONBURG – Austin Markel put Luray up and Travis Smink held Harrisonburg down. Markel hit a pair of home runs, including a two-run shot in the second inning, and Smink stifled the Turks’ lineup for six innings as the Wranglers completed a season sweep of Harrisonburg with a 6-1 win Thursday night. ‘‘You’re playing one of the better ballclubs in the country,” Turks owner/manager Bob Wease said. ‘‘They’ve got good pitching. The infield’s good, the outfield’s good and they swing the bat a ton.” Facing the Turks for the third time this season, Smink – a left-hander from VMI – allowed one run on four hits while striking out five, taking advantage of an over-aggressive Harrisonburg batting order. Living off a fastball he spotted high in the strike zone, Smink recorded 10 of his first 15 outs off of fly balls to the outfield. ‘‘I usually work the counts and get a lot of ground balls,” Smink said after pushing his record to 5-0. ‘‘This is the third time I pitched against this team. They really like to chase the fastball up, so once I got ahead I just kept raising the ladder.” It was an impatient approach that has frustrated Wease all season. ‘‘You cannot win like that,” Wease said. ‘‘You’ve got to make these guys make plays." Markel, meanwhile, provided all the offense the red-hot Wranglers would need. The outfielder from West Virginia crushed a 1-0 pitch from Harrisonburg starter Eric Thomas to deep right field for a two-run home run in the second inning. Then, in the seventh, he capped the Luray scoring with a long home run to straightaway center on a 2-0 fastball from reliever Chase Sonen. ‘‘They were both fastballs,” Markel said. ‘‘I wasn’t sure about the second one off the bat, but the first one I knew it.” The Wranglers have now won five straight, a winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents 63-11. The win improved first-place Luray (22-8) to 4-0 against Harrisonburg (10-19) this season, a pleasing result for Wranglers manager Mike Bocock, a former Harrisonburg High School coach. ‘‘We beat ‘em tonight,” Bocock said, dismissing the notion that the win was special because of his Harrisonburg ties. ‘‘That doesn’t have anything to do with it.” But while Bocock downplayed the rivalry, his starting pitcher revealed that beating Harrisonburg does mean a bit extra to the Valley League’s winningest skipper. ‘‘He wants to beat this team more than anybody else in the league, I think,” Smink said. ‘‘He addressed that before the game.” And Smink and Markel addressed it during. Harrisonburg 000 001 000 – 1 7 3 Luray 020 021 10x – 6 8 0 Thomas, Sonen (6), Ruhle (8) and Pericht; Smink, Jordat (7), Kuronos (8), Cichy (9) and Johnson. W- Smink (5-0). L- Thomas (NA). HR- L: Markel 2.