With the Harrisonburg Turks regular season concluded, all eyes are looking forward to the postseason. Tonight, that postseason begins in the form of a three-game playoff pitting the Turks (27-16) against the Rockbridge Rapids (20-20).
The Turks played the Rapids to a 3-3 series tie in six games throughout the regular season, each team winning one at home and two on the road. In typical Harrisonburg fashion, the Turks averaged 7 runs in each win, but were limited to just one run in two of the three losses. In other words, the same moniker that has rang true all season will likely be a major factor again in this first playoff series– feast or famine.
Entering the playoffs, Harrisonburg is 22-0 when scoring 6 runs or more; they are 5-16 when their offense is limited to 5 runs or less.
It’s no revelation to state that scoring runs is a key aspect of winning baseball, but what the team really needed was rest. The Turks entered a stretch between July 17-24 where they played or attempted to play nine games. That slow grind through the last days of the season certainly had its ill effects, best evidenced by a 19-3 loss at Staunton. The coaching staff did their best to find pitchers a much-needed second wind, even letting third baseman Jake Roberts started a game on the mound. Now that Harrisonburg hasn’t played since Tuesday, the players should be feeling much more rested and energetic.
That’s good news for Turks fans. Harrisonburg is 7-2 in games played following a day of no baseball.
Rockbridge will need to contend with a healthy, rested, and experienced Turks pitching rotation. Harrisonburg finished the regular season with an earned run average just a mark over 4.00 (inflated from its previous VBL-best mark after the big loss in Staunton), and batters are hitting just .251 against Turks pitchers (which is still a VBL-best mark). At some point, the Rapids will likely have to duel all-star Dillon Ortman, who has looked particularly lethal in his last two outings. Since July 13, Ortman is 2-0 with 13 strikeouts and a complete game shutout to his credit. His ERA is 2.70, the fourth best in the entire league.
If the pitching continues to be dominant and their offensive spurts get going, the Turks are likely to find themselves in a favorable position against Rockbridge.
Game 1 of the three-game series begins tonight, Friday July 27, at 7:30 in Veterans Memorial Park. Game 2 will be at Rockbridge tomorrow night. Game 3, if necessary, will be played Sunday night back in Harrisonburg.