Harrisonburg Wins Opener, 13-4
Posted: August 2, 2012
By MARK SAWYER— Byrd Newspapers
WINCHESTER — All season long the ball has been flying out of Bridgeforth Field, and runs and hits have been tallied in bunches. So there was no surprise that in the opener of the Valley Baseball League Championship series there was an offensive explosion.
However, it may surprise a few that the explosion came from the visiting Harrisonburg Turks and not the homestanding Winchester Royals.
South Division champion Harrisonsburg, a team that scored 117 less runs and hit 51 less home runs, pounded Winchester pitching for 13 runs, on 19 hits, including three home runs, and rolled to an easy 13-4 victory over the North Division champion Royals to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of -five series at Bridgeforth Field Wednesday night.
“We had 19 hits, turned seven double plays, and I think left 13 or 14 men on base, so we could have scored 20 some runs,” Harrisonburg coach Bob Wease said. “It was a good game, I’m just glad we got the first one. Winchester is a very, very good ball club and I’m sure they’re going to come out [tonight] with vengeance. They hit 78 home runs during the year, hopefully that will go south.
“[Winning game one] it’s big, it’s so doggone big because now we just have to win two out of four and they have to win three out of four, which could happen.”
Winchester (35-14) got off to a quick start against Turks starter Trey Cochran-Gill. Back-to-back singles by Leo Rojas and Brad Picha followed by a walk to Jimmy Yezzo loaded the bases to start the inning. One out later, Garret Autrey reached on an infield single to score Rojas and Picha scored on a ground out to make it 2-0.
The Royals added a run in the second on a gift from the Turks. With two outs, Rojas singled and stole second. On the play, Rojas was able to come all the way around to score on a pair of wild throws by Harrisonburg giving the Royals a 3-0 advantage.
After that however, Cochran-Gill (6-0) was a combination of really good, and very lucky at times. And he had his defense to thank for a good part of that. Harrisonburg turned six double plays, one in each of the last six innings of the game, in just about every combination you can think of to keep the Royals’ offense at bay.
With all the defensive help, Cochran-Gill was able to go the distance for the first time all summer, allowing four runs on nine hits. He walked six while striking out four, saving arms on the Harrisonburg pitching staff for later in the series.
Harrisonburg (32-17) was able to start chipping away at Royals starter Janson Carr (6-2) in the meantime. An RBI single by Ryan Lee in the second got the Turks on the board but it was a big fourth inning that turned the game around for the visitors.
The Turks batted around in the fourth, sending 12 men to the plate and tagging Royals pitching for six runs. The big blow came off the bat of nine-hole hitter R.J. Perucki, who belted a one-out grand slam over the left-field fence to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead. It was Perucki’s first round tripper of the season and second night in a row he gave the Turks the lead with his bat.
An RBI single by Keaton Neeb and a bases loaded walk to Brian Yeung later in the inning gave the Turks two more runs and a 7-3 lead, one they would never give back.
“I think R.J. is a big-time pro, he’s just got to hit more,” Wease said of his shortstop. “Of course he had two hits tonight and the big knock. It’s gonna be interesting watching him the next three or four years.”
After the two teams exchanged runs in the middle innings to make the score 8-4, Harrisonburg blew the game wide open by scoring five more runs over the last three innings of the contest, including solo home runs from Jake Roberts and David Perkins — his second of the season.
Six of Harrisonburg’s starters had two or more hits as they outhit the Royals 19-9, a stat that has been dominated by the Royals all season long.
They [Harrisonburg] played good. We hit some really hard balls right at guys tonight,” Royals coach Steve Sabins said. “They came out swinging and they played good. All the credit goes to those guys, they played a great game. It’s great it’s a five game series, especially when you lose the first one. I think all the guys are confident and are ready to come out and play the same game that they’ve played all year tomorrow night.
“Any playoff games, there’s no such thing as having enough runs, you just need to continue to tack on and continue to score as much as you can and play as hard as you can.”
Perkins led the way for the Turks, finishing with five hits, two runs, an RBI and a homer. Ryan Brown added three hits and three runs and Thomas Smith was 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
Rojas led the Royals with three hits and two runs scored. Picha and Autrey had two each in the losing cause.
Game two is today in Harrisonburg at 7:30 p.m.