Warren’s Walk-Off Slam Lifts Turks Past Rapids, 8-4
W: David Bourbonnais (1-0)
L: Nygeal Andrews (0-2)
There are many memorable moments from Harrisonburg’s 29th regular season win, which came at the expense of Rockbridge late Monday night. The Valley League’s strikeout leader, Connor Kaden, notched eight more K’s under his belt. There were late balks, erroneous throws, perfect bunts and monstrous hits. But no moment shined brighter than Turks first baseman Mike Warren belting a grand slam over the left field wall at 11:13 p.m. to retake a lead his own team had just blown minutes earlier and send the visiting Rapids home empty-handed.
The Turks (29-12) had already been playing for five hours when closer Adam Cherry took the mound in the top of the seventh. He was looking to coax the Turks’ 3-1 lead into his team-best sixth save of the season. But Cherry gave up a single to second baseman Ryan Perkins and walked first baseman Noah Blackhurst, then balked during the next at bat to advance both runners into scoring position.
Then, with the game on the line, DH Jack Hudson recorded his third hit of the game, a hard-hit ball that rolled into shallow left-center. Perkins scored from third easily, but as Blackhurst began to round third to score the tieing run, left fielder John Welborn threw a bullet from the outfield that beat him by two feet. But as the ball came in, it slipped off Turks catcher Josh Clark’s glove, rolling back between his legs and away from Blackhurst. Hudson’s RBI-single became a 2-RBI double, and when the Turks couldn’t capitalize with two men on in the bottom of the seventh inning, the game was destined for extras.
Harrisonburg’s newest pitching acquisition, submariner David Bourbonnais, relieved Cherry one out into the top of the eighth with runners on second and third. Bourbonnais got out of the inning, but not before walking both Perkins and Blackhurst, who were again up to bat. Rockbridge led 4-3 in the middle of the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, right fielder Jace Whitley hit a leadoff single through the right side, and both center fielder Thomas Spitz and DH Andy Perez reached on fielders’ choice. Second baseman Thomas Smith hit a base hit to score Whitley and tie the game at four runs apiece before Warren stepped to the plate.
Prior to his final at bat of the night, Warren was 0 for 2 in the game; he was 0 for 5 on the night when considering his play in the first half of Monday night’s doubleheader. But on the fifth pitch of his at bat, with a 2-2 count, Warren hit a no-doubter that triumphantly sailed over the left field wall and into the parking lot far beyond Veterans Memorial Park, garnering raucous cheers from the remaining crowd inside the park.
Warren finished 1 for 3 with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. Left fielder Eric Kalbfleisch finished 2 for 2 with 2 RBI before he left the game after being hit by a pitch.
Kaden went for 5 1/3 innings. He threw eight strikeouts to just one walk and allowed one run. He currently has 69 K’s on the season.
Harrisonburg can win their 30th game of the season Tuesday night in Waynesboro.