Turks Outlast the Rapids, 12-7

07/20/2011 – Turks Tidbits

Written by Nathaniel Stoltz James Madison University Harrisonburg – Harrisonburg won in a slugfest Wednesday night, prevailing 12-7 over the Rockbridge Rapids in a long game that featured scoring in seven of the last eight half-innings.

The Rapids got out to an early 1-0 lead against Turks starting pitcher Niko Spezial (Wake Forest), as Rockbridge DH Tanner Lovick tripled to left-center with one out in the top of the first and scored on a sacrifice fly by George Piccirilli.

The Turks quickly struck back in the bottom of the second, however, as right fielder Mac Williamson (Wake Forest) led off with a walk. First baseman Brock Green (Ouachita Baptist) sent Williamson to third with a line drive single down the right field line, and designated hitter Lazaro Torres (Hagerstown CC), in his first at-bat in front of the Turks home crowd, hit an RBI single to right to score Williamson. A walk to catcher Eric Mason (St. Joseph’s) loaded the bases, and third baseman J.J. Loker (USC Aiken) scored Green with a sac fly to put the Turks up 2-1.

Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long, as Lovick tied the game with a single to score Rockbridge shortstop Brody Greer in the top of the third.

The Turks benefited from some stellar defensive plays in the middle innings, as Spezial made a diving catch of a bunt before throwing back to second for a double play. The lefty also made two pickoffs of baserunners, and his defense also picked him up with a great throw to get Rockbridge’s Mike Perez trying to stretch a single into a double to end the top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Turks retook the lead, with center fielder Jay Gonzalez (Auburn) hitting a double to deep left to lead off the inning. With one out, second baseman Sam Dove (Georgia Tech) ripped a single to left that scored Gonzalez. Left fielder Dodson McPherson (Wingate) followed with a liner down the right field line for an RBI double to make it 4-2.

Rockbridge continued the back-and-forth in the sixth, cutting the lead in half on an RBI single from Piccirilli.

In the bottom of the inning, however, the Turks loaded the bases for Dove, who lofted a fly ball that Rockbridge right fielder Zach Leach dropped, allowing all three runs to score and making it 7-3.

Rockbridge wouldn’t go down without a fight, though, as some sloppy Turks fielding allowed the Rapids to once again close the gap. Back-to-back errors by J.J. Loker and R.J. Perucki and three hits chased Spezial and made it 7-6. Spezial wound up allowing eleven hits and six runs, three earned, in 6 2/3 innings, with two walks and two strikeouts. His opponent, Tim Hogan, went 5 2/3, allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Harrisonburg broke the game open for good in the bottom of the seventh, however, starting with Williamson reached on an error to open the inning. He stole second, moved to third on a Green single, and scored on a groundout from pinch-hitter Chris Marconcini (Duke). Mason was hit by a pitch, Loker singled, Gonzalez singled, and Dove also contributed a hit later in the inning. By the time the dust settled, it was 11-6, and though Rockbridge scored a run in the top of the eighth, they would get no closer, as Mason would score Williamson with a single in the bottom of the eighth to make it 12-7.

Spezial is now 3-0 on the season, and Hogan is 0-1.

The Turks were led offensively by three hits apiece from Gonzalez and Dove, and Mason made it on base four times. Harrisonburg is now 3-1 on their eight-game homestand, and they now are 28-10 on the year, while Rockbridge fell to 16-21. The Turks continue their homestand Friday, hosting the division rival Woodstock River Bandits.


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