07/29/2008 – Daily News Record
Written By Matthew Stoss Daily News Record Sports Desk HARRISONBURG – What Bob Wease remembers most about the last regular-season game at Veterans Memorial Stadium probably isn’t what the crowd that half-filled the 61-year-old stadium will remember. Sitting at a worn poker table in the locker room behind the visiting dugout, Wease – the owner/manager of the Harrisonburg Turks – remembered who coached first base for an inning: his son. "That meant an awful lot for me, and I know it meant an awful lot to him," said Wease, whose first experience at Memorial Stadium came in 1955 when he played there as a kid. "We used to bring him over here as a baby and set up a playpen in a room off the concession stand. He’s been here his whole life." What was more obvious to those in attendance for the three-hour plus contest between the Turks and the Covington Lumberjacks were 11 errors, a confrontation between an assistant coach and an umpire and a 10-7 Harrisonburg win to clinch the seventh seed in the Valley Baseball League playoffs. "This game was more important to us," Turks left fielder Drew Johnson said. Covington was the sixth seed coming to Monday night’s regular-season finale no matter what. The Turks (19-25), though, needed to win to be the seventh seed. By doing that, they have earned a date at Luray, which lost to Waynesboro in extra innings, 8-7. The Wranglers (30-14) are the No. 2 seed, and the Generals (30-14) will have the top spot in the eight-team playoffs, which start today. Wease, however, would have rather played Waynesboro. "We’ve had better luck with them than with Luray," said Wease, whose team went 3-2 against the Generals. "Luray has beaten us all four times." If the Turks play like they did Monday, it might not matter. They made five errors. Covington, though, didn’t play much better. The Lumberjacks (23-21) made six errors, including three on one play in the fourth inning when Zach Castleberry singled and scored on the same play. "You hate to not have an important game," Covington manager Andy Chalot said. "… We weren’t going up. We weren’t going down." In the top of seventh inning, Covington assistant coach Eric Mesa got ejected after arguing a batter interference call. Marcus Nidiffer was called out on a third strike, and the umpire ruled he interfered with Harrisonburg catcher Josh Tutwiler’s throw to second trying to catch Lammar Guy stealing. When the umpire made the motion to eject Mesa, his arm appeared to hit Mesa’s. Mesa didn’t seem to be looking at the time, and Mesa reacted by pushing the umpire. "He was startled a bit," Chalot said of Mesa. "And it was a natural reaction to when [the umpire] put his hand up." Amongst all that, the Turks scored 10 runs – their biggest offensive output since an 11-3 win over Waynesboro on June 13. Harrisonburg entered the game as the worst-hitting team in the VBL with a .232 team average. The Turks also had scored the fewest runs of any team with 157. On Monday, though, Johnson did his best to fix that, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the fourth. Right fielder Michael Precise and shortstop B.J. Wheeler each went 2-for-5, and Precise had an RBI. Covington 001 002 202 – 7 8 6 Harrisonburg 200 600 20x – 10 16 3 Wilson, Huff (3), Phelps (5), Sutton (6) and Nidiffer, Noell (5); Kennedy, Millstead (6), Sonen (7), Wood (8), Sloan, (9) and Tutwiler. HR: C – Longley.