08/02/2011 – Turks Tidbits
Turks Loose Game 1 of Semi-Finals to Rockbridge
Written by Nathaniel Stoltz James Madison University Intern Harrisonburg – Opening the Valley League semi-final series against the Rockbridge Rapids, the Turks fell behind early and couldn’t recover despite having nearly twice as many hits as their opponents, falling 5-2.
Turks starter Niko Spezial (Wake Forest) got into big trouble early in the game, walking the first three batters he faced. An error on shortstop R.J. Perucki, a sacrifice fly, a pickoff error, and a double each brought in a run, so by the time the Turks came to bat, they were behind 4-0. Harrisonburg threatened in each of the first two innings, but stranded two runners both times.
Spezial ultimately settled down – the double in the first was the only hit he allowed in the first five innings. But his opponent, Rockbridge lefty Clinton Freeman, scattered five hits over the first five innings, holding the score at 4-0.
The Turks finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth, as right fielder Sam Dove (Georgia Tech) led off with a single, left fielder Dodson McPherson (Wingate) walked, and designated hitter Chris Marconcini (Duke) hit a grounder that got by Rockbridge first baseman George Piccirilli for a run-scoring error.
Rockbridge got the run back in the next half-inning, however, when center fielder Tyler Molinaro singled off of Spezial – just the Rapids’ second hit of the game, advanced on a sac bunt, and scored on a single from Piccirilli that second baseman Casey Goss (JMU) nearly made a spectacular catch on. Spezial exited the game after 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts.
Harrisonburg mounted another rally in the bottom of the seventh when Goss – who’s been on fire in the playoffs – led off with a triple to left. Center fielder Jay Gonzalez (Auburn) hit a ground ball through the left side for an RBI single to make it 5-2. Perucki then ripped a ball to deep left that bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double, advancing Gonzalez to third and putting the tying run at the plate. Dove was intentionally walked to load the bases for McPherson, but the left fielder hit a 3-1 fastball to the shortstop to start a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Freeman threw a complete game, allowing two runs (one earned) on nine hits and three walks, striking out four. He picked up the win to go to 2-3 on the season, while Spezial fell to 3-1.
Gonzalez, Perucki, and Goss led the Turks with two hits, and Dove and Marconcini each reached base twice in the game. Julio Felix (Pima CC) worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Spezial, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one. He also made a great defensive play with a runner on first, catching a bunt attempt over his head and throwing back to first for a double play.
The Turks will try to stay alive and even the series tomorrow night at Rockbridge. If they win, they’ll return home for the tiebreaking third game of the series on Thursday.