07/25/2008 – Daily News Record
Written By Marcus Helton Daily Record Sports Desk Harrisonburg Still Alive In Playoff Race After 9-2 Win HARRISONBURG – In the middle of his lengthy seventh-inning at-bat against Waynesboro pitcher Jake Cowan, Harrisonburg Turks designated hitter Zach Castleberry looked down the third-base line to Turks manager Bob Wease for advice. "He just kept saying, ‘Come on, get a hit,’" Castleberry recalled with a laugh. ‘Come on!’" Castleberry obliged, crushing a belt-high fastball – the final pitch of a sequence that included five straight foul balls – for a two-run home run. Castleberry’s blast erased a 2-1 deficit and jumpstarted the Harrisonburg offense, which came alive late for a 9-2 victory over the Generals on Thursday in a Valley League Baseball game at Memorial Stadium. The win was crucial for the Turks (17-23), who are fighting for one of the Valley League’s final two playoff spots. Haymarket is 17-24, with Woodstock (14-26) and New Market (13-27) also in the hunt. Waynesboro (28-13) had already clinched the Southern Division title with an 8-4 win over Staunton on Wednesday. "I was just working to get something over the plate ’cause he was painting the corners pretty well," said Castleberry, a freshman from Yavapai College, "so I was just trying to foul everything off until I found something I could get a good piece of. He finally made a mistake." Until that point, neither pitcher had made very many. Bethune-Cookman junior Eric Thomas pitched seven innings, striking out 12 while walking four. He held the Generals to just five hits, two of which were solo homers. "My slider was definitely working," Thomas said. "That team’s fun, they started making adjustments on me, and they got two of them. That’s a good team, they’re fun to play." His counterpart Cowan – a sophomore from the University of Virginia – had allowed just one run until Casteberry’s homer. He struck out nine while allowing no walks. "It was a very well-pitched game both ways," Waynesboro manager Lawrence Nesselrodt said. "We just threw the wrong pitch to the wrong guy at the wrong time." The Turks – who came into the game with a league-worst .229 batting average – unloaded on Waynesboro’s bullpen, plating six runs in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. "We had five guys tonight with two hits each," Wease said. "We’re starting to hit a little bit, and hopefully, this will bring us up a little bit and give the guys some confidence and we’ll start hitting a little bit." Harrisonburg turned to two former Turner Ashby High School stars to preserve the victory. Justin Wood (James Madison) threw a hitless 1 2/3 innings while striking out three, and Tyler Milstead (Ferrum) notched a three-pitch strikeout to end the game. Waynesboro 010 000 100 – 2 5 2 Harrisonburg 000 001 26x – 9 13 0 Cowan, Sokolowski (8), Simpson (8) and Morgan; Thomas, Wood (8) Milstead (9) and Pericht. W – Thomas (3-2). L – Cowan (3-2). HR: W – Sizemore (7), Webb (6). H – Castleberry (1).