8/3/2010 – Turks Tidbits
By Todd Jones James Madison University Intern Winchester, VA Game one of the first round of the VBL playoffs took place in Winchester on Tuesday night, with the Harrisonburg Turks squaring off against the Royals. Each win or loss now teeters the see-saw of playoff fate, and with very little room for error in a best of 3 series, the Turks would have to bring their ‘A’ game in order to secure a victory. So with the Cicadas buzzing like the vuvuzelas of this year’s World Cup an air of excitement enveloped Jim Barnett Park as the 2010 VBL playoffs ensued.
The Royals would strike first in the bottom of the 1st inning when Cody Gaskill knocked a one run homer over the center field wall. Granier would recollect himself and deliver his third strikeout of the inning to close it out and bring the Turks back to bat. The score would hold until the top of the 3rd inning when second baseman Joe Huber (St. Josephs) picked an opportune time to knock his first homer of the season, equaling the Royals at 1 apiece. In the top of the 4th inning after Shaun Cooper (Ariz.) was walked, Bobby Brown (Ariz) hit a sacrifice bunt to allow his fellow wildcat to advance to 2nd. Scott Dalrymple (Okl. City) then stepped up and hit a ground out acting as a decoy for the defense as Cooper slipped over to 3rd. Cole Harrison (Fla.) then hit an RBI single past the second baseman providing Cooper with a safe passage home and giving the Turks their first lead, 2-1.
Drew Granier tallied 4 strikeouts in the 4th and 5th innings alone, helping the Turks protect their slim lead. That slim lead went on an eating binge and plumped up quite a bit in the top of the 6th inning. Connor Winn (Ga. Tech) led off the inning with his first home run of the season and Shaun Cooper followed up with a HR blast of his own, giving Harrisonburg a 4-1 advantage. After Bobby Brown was walked Scott Dalrymple decided to get in on the fun and slapped a two run homer building the Turks lead to 6-1 over the Royals. The Royals came to the plate in the bottom of the 6th inning and Cody Gaskill launched his second home run of the game over the left field wall. Two singles sandwiched two outs allowing a runner to get home, but Granier would not allow another as he struck out the last batter allowing the Turks to retain the lead, 6-3.
The Royals would close the gap a bit more in the bottom of the 8th after Harrisonburg made a pitching change to Stephen Styck (St. Josephs). Granier walked off the mound having pitched 7 1/3 innings, pocketing 13 strikeouts and only one walk. In the 8th a double was hit into the center field wall after a pop out to start the inning. Another pop out would be followed by another double allowing the Royals’ runner to score and narrowing the Turks advantage to two runs, 6-4. With two outs on the board and the bases loaded Turks fans in attendance were holding their breath. A hard grounder was hit to Turks’ shortstop Connor Winn who made the big stop and threw the runner out at 2nd for the inning’s final out. In the top of the 9th with two outs and JJ Loker (USC-Aiken) on base after hitting a single, Shaun Cooper did what he does best knocking his second screamer of the night over the outfield wall as Turks’ fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. The homer gave Harrisonburg an 8-4 lead which they held onto in the bottom of the 9th to emerge victorious on the road in game 1. Game 2 of the VBL playoffs Vs. the Royals is tonight at JMU Veterans Memorial Stadium at 730. Come on out to the ball park and cheer your Turks on to the Quarterfinals !