In Relief, Sightler Helps Turks Win, 8-7
Posted: July 23, 2013
By MARK SELIG
Daily News Record
HARRISONBURG — As the Turks’ bats began bashing away at a five-run deficit Monday, relief pitcher Zach Sightler was busy tossing up zeroes.
Harrisonburg came back to win 8-7 in seven innings during the first game of a doubleheader against Rockbridge — all after trailing 7-2 through four innings. Third baseman Thomas Smith went 3-for-3 with four RBIs, and John Welborn hit a walk-off double to score Joe Napolitano.
Sightler, meanwhile, threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings to help keep the Turks within striking distance.
Quiet? Sure. But that seems fitting for the Winthrop rising sophomore, who’s hardly the most chatty player on the club.
“Just long-tossing and throwing a lot of bullpens, working my arm, conditioning,” Sightler said — his longest response from a succinct post-game interview — referring to how he was able to stretch his arm out for a hearty relief performance.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder joined the Turks in late June and had appeared in only two games before Monday. Typically reliable starter Jake Harper suffered his worst outing of the season, and Harrisonburg, which was playing a doubleheader because Sunday’s game was postponed, needed a dam to stop the Rapids’ offensive torrent.
Sightler, who entered the game in the fourth inning, inherited a baserunner on third and allowed him to score when the first batter he faced singled. After that, he delivered 10 outs without giving up another hit, taking the Turks to the finish line of the abbreviated game.
“He was just hitting his spots,” catcher Joey Roach said. “He was working ahead in the count. He was doing a great job locating all three of his pitches [fastball, slider and changeup].
Like Sightler, Roach was a midseason addition for the Turks, who needed a replacement for catcher Connor Lynch.
Roach, from Georgia State, is batting .300 through his first five games with Harrisonburg.
His Monday began poorly with two groundball outs to second base (one starting a double play), and a run-causing throwing error during a rainy fourth inning. But Roach laced a double to right field to begin the Turks’ rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Trailing 7-4 at the time, Harrisonburg scored three runs in that inning to tie the score before winning in the seventh.
One of the newest Turks, Roach knows a little something about filling in — especially at Veterans Memorial Park.
When Georgia State’s starting catcher Scott Sarratt broke a bone in his left hand in an April 20 game at James Madison, Roach became the Panthers’ primary backstop. He hit a home run that day, one of four for the season, and went on to become an all-rookie performer in the Colonial Athletic Association, batting .296 as a freshman.
Roach accumulated a 4.0 GPA at GSU in the spring (and was smart enough to blame a wet baseball for his throwing miscue Monday).
“It was so wet,” he said. “Yeah, the rain. I’ll blame it on the rain.”
The error really wasn’t all too costly because Rockbridge continued to merry-go-round the bases that inning until Sightler arrived on the mound.
Sightler arrived in Harrisonburg last month after a stint with the Columbia Blowfish, the defending champions of the Coastal Plain League. The Blowfish play 20 minutes from Sightler’s home in Lexington, S.C., and he was on a temporary contract with the team.
When that contract expired, his coach at Winthrop called Turks manager Bob Wease and asked if Harrisonburg needed another pitcher. It certainly did.
Four of the Turks’ hurlers have left the team after injuries or, in one case, because a college coach wanted his pitcher shut down for the summer.
Sightler hasn’t pitched much yet this summer for Harrisonburg, but he’s been good when he has. In seven innings, opponents have no runs against him.
“He’s been a blessing in disguise. He really has,” Wease said.
Sightler, who had a 9.72 ERA in 8 1/3 innings as a rookie at Winthrop, said he’d like to start next year for the Eagles. He’s been trying to stretch his arm out for longer outings, and on Monday, his 3 1/3 scoreless innings were exactly what the Turks needed while the offense found its punch.
Rockbridge 200 500 0 — 7 6 1
Harrisonburg 101 023 1 — 8 11 2
Constand, Cain (6), Fissel (6), King (6) and Wilson; Harper, Sightler (4) and Roach. W- Sightler (1-0). L- King (0-3). HRs- R: Fabre