Turks Clinch Central, 12-7

07/21/2011 – Daily News Record

Team Wins 28th Game

Written by Mike Barber Daily News Record

Harrisonburg – It was the kind of game everyone just wanted to see end. So when Turks reliever Julio Felix threw his 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth near the strike zone, the right-hander from Pima (Ariz.) Community College just figured he’d get the call.

Felix even came bouncing off the mound toward the Harrisonburg dugout before the plate umpire called it a ball.

“To me it looked pretty good,” Felix said as a trainer wrapped his right bicep in ice. “I was hoping he’d expand the zone on that, but I didn’t get any help.”

Felix got the final out by inducing a grounder to shortstop on his next pitch and the Turks beat Rockbridge 12-7 to clinch the Valley League’s Central Division, winning a game that dragged on for nearly 3 1/2 hours after a 30-minute lightning delay interrupted play in the bottom of the sixth inning.

When the players re-took the field – with Harrisonburg (28-10) leading 4-3 – things got sloppy.

“It was like, Oh we really have to go back out there after that long?” Harrisonbur starting pitcher Niko Spezial said.

The Rapids (16-21) lifted their starting pitcher, Tim Hogan, after the delay, but their bullpen couldn’t hold down the Turks. Reliever Pete Schultz came in and walked the first hitter he faced on four itches. Then, with a 3-1 count to his second batter, Schultz left with an injury.

With the bases loaded, Harrisonburg’s Sam Dove popped what should have been the third out into right field, but Rockbridge’s Zach Leach dropped the ball, allowing three runs to score. In all, the Turks added eight of their 12 runs after the delay.

“The kid missed a fly ball ut there in right field and we made a couple of errors at third,” Turks owner/manager Bob Wease said. “It got pretty ugly. But we won.”

Spezial (Wake Forest) was strong before the delay, giving up three runs on seven hits through six innings. But when he went back out for the seventh, he wasn’t hearly as sharp. Relievers Ryan Chapman and then Felix pulled Harrisonburg to the finish, improving the team to a3-1 midway through it’s eight-game home-stand.

Felix pitched 1 1/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief.

Turks centerfielder Jay Gonzalez (Auburn) went 3-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored.

The two teams combined to give up seven unearned runs, commit four errors and use eight pitchers.

Rockbridge 101 001 310 – 7 13 1 Harrisonburg 020 023 41x – 12 12 1

Hogan, Schultz (6), Stephen (6), Montague (7), Greer (8), and Perez, Way; Spezial, Chapman (7), Felex (8). W-Spezial (3-0) L-Hogan (0-1)


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