W: Mike Kraft (3-1)
L: Jeremy Jansen (0-3)
S: Cruz (1)
W: Levi Mauldin (1-1)
L: John McLeod (3-3)
Harrisonburg split a pair of 7-inning games Thursday night with the Rockbridge Rapids to maintain their edge in the Southern Division. Harrisonburg took the first game 3-1; Rockbridge won the nightcap 6-1.
Mike Kraft started the first game, a neat 89-minute affair that was minutes away from becoming the Turks’ first shutout win of the season since a 1-0 victory in Staunton on June 6. Kraft, a veritable strikeout artist, took a perfect game into the fourth inning, racked up eight K’s, and pitched all but the final two outs to earn his elusive third win of the season. It’s his first decision since a July 2 home loss to Haymarket and his first win since June 9.
Alex Cruz, a currently reigning VBL player of the week, earned his first save of the season. Cruz was inserted with one out in the top of the seventh, and his first batter grounded into a double play to cement the final score at 3-1.
Second baseman Thomas Smith led the Turks at the plate in another score-in-bunches apperance for Harrisonburg. Fresh off an all-star game appearance, Smith was 2 for 3 with an RBI, laying down a key bunt that got the scoring started in the 3-run third frame. Third baseman Brian Yeung was also 2 for 3.
For the Rapids in game 1, center fielder Chase Corn totaled one hit and was credited with the visitor’s only RBI.
In the nightcap, Rockbridge’s Levi Mauldin pitched a complete game featuring two walks and two strikeouts. Opposite him was Harrisonburg’s John McLeod, who was pulled early in the third after the Turks found themselves in an early 4-0 hole. Ace closer Shawn O’Neill earned one out following McLeod’s exit, but he too was soon pulled, paving the way for Alex Cruz’ second pitching stint of the night. Cruz was impressive again, allowing no further runs and one hit through the end of the fifth inning, but Mauldin’s team had already compiled six runs– an output Harrisonburg would not match in an already abbreviated game.
Left fielder Cody Dolan and first baseman Andrew Willingham smacked three doubles and earned 4 RBI for the Rapids in their 6-1 victory.
Left fielder David Perkins led the Turks with a single and a double in three at bats.
Harrisonburg is now 22-12 and holds a slight half-game advantage over Waynesboro in the south. Rockbridge, now 17-14, has the third best record in a highly competitive southern division.
Harrisonburg will host Winchester Friday night. The Royals are a Valley-best 25-9.