08/09/2011 – Turks Tidbits
Written by Nathaniel Stoltz James Madison University Harrisonburg – While the Turks’ season ended earlier this week, let’s not forget what an incredible 2011 season this Harrisonburg team had.
Harrisonburg finished the season, including the playoffs, with a 34-14 record that was easily the best in the Valley League. In particular, they treated the home crowds at Veterans Memorial Park to great baseball nearly every night, losing only four games at home all season. Even then, two of those four losses came in extra innings.
The Turks were undoubtedly led by a top half of the batting order that wreaked havoc on opposing pitchers. With leadoff man Jay Gonzalez (Auburn) and #2 hitter Sam Dove (Georgia Tech) getting on base at .484 and .434 clips, respectively, there were usually runners on base for power hitters Dodson McPherson (Wingate) and Mac Williamson (Wake Forest). McPherson slugged .541, Williamson .706, and the two players combined for 17 home runs despite playing their home games in the league’s most spacious park.
The rest of the lineup was solid as well, as R.J. Perucki (UTSA), Blake Austin (Auburn), Chris Marconcini (Duke), and Brock Green (Ouachita Baptist) all had batting averages above .260 and on-base percentages above .340. Casey Goss (JMU) worked his way out of an early-season slump when he started to get regular playing time late in the year, and he raised his batting average nearly 100 points in the last week of the season. With every player contributing at the plate, opposing pitchers had lots of trouble with the Turks lineup night in and night out.
Harrisonburg’s pitching staff was also formidable, led by big seasons from starting pitchers Justin Van Grouw (Wake Forest), Eric Meyerchick (St. Joseph’s), Aaron Luchterhand (Arkansas Tech), and Niko Spezial (Wake Forest). As a team, the Turks allowed only 13 home runs all season, less than half as many as the team’s batters put over the fence.
The bullpen was just as stellar, as closer Pat Christensen (La Salle) and setup man Joe Charest (Fordham), both struck out over a batter per inning while posting ERAs under 3.00. Most nights, the starting pitcher would be able to get through seven innings and hand the ball off to this impressive duo to close out one of the team’s 34 wins.
While this year’s team fell short of carrying out their impressive momentum all the way through to the playoffs, there’s no denying that, from top to bottom, this team had a great season. We look forward to having some of the underclassmen return to Harrisonburg next year and put on an even bigger show!