Extra Inning Heroics Push the Turks Over the River Bandits 9-8
Written By, Adam Cherry
The sun was setting behind the hills and hot air balloons were raising as the Harrisonburg Turks took on the Woodstock River Bandits. James Ziemba (Duke) was on the mound for the Turks and he was facing off against Austin Munn for the Bandits.
The River Bandits were able to strike first in the game. The second hitter of the first inning walked after six pitches and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. A sharp hit ball was smacked to Matt Rose who made the play at first. Logan Hoggarth made a heads up play and advanced to third after Rose threw to first. Mason Snyder then hit a seeing eye base hit in between the second and first basemen. Ziemba was then able to strike out the next hitter to end the River Bandit rally.
The Turks hot bats continued as they torched the River Bandits pitching. The scoring attack started in the third inning. Mitchell Matulia (UTSA) laced an opposite field line drive into the gap to lead off the Turks with a double. Steven McLean (Baylor) laid down a bunt back to the pitcher, who spun and fired a strike to the third basemen who was able to tag out Matulia at third. Thomas Spitz worked a walk after an eight pitch at bat. Christopher Barr (Miami) worked ahead in the count and bounced a ball over the out reached glove of the first basemen to score McLean from second. Spitz and Barr were able to move up a base on the throw home from right field. Matt Rose (Georgia State) continued his hot hitting and smashed a line drive down the left field line for a double. This pushed the Turks lead to 3-1.
Alex Lewis from the River Bandits was able to match Matulia by leading the inning off with a double down the left field line. The next River Bandit hitter flared the 3-1 fastball into right field for a single scoring Lewis. Steven McLean was able to flash his leather by making a few Sports Center Top 10 Plays in the hole to retire the next two River Bandits.
The Bandits struck again while the iron was hot in the fourth inning. The River Bandits started the inning with another lead off base hit from Dave Hoffman. The runner was able to advance to second on another wild pitch. Jacob Armstrong was able to hit the ball to Hunter King at second base to move the runner to third. Hoffman was able to score and tie the game after another wild pitch. Ziemba was able to retire the next hitter to end the Bandit rally. After four innings the game was tied 3-3.
Thomas Spitz led the Turks off in the fifth with a single up the middle on the first pitch of the at bat. Christopher Barr laid a beautiful bunt down the third baseline for a single, moving Spitz to third. Rose hit a sharp ball to the third basemen who turned to second for the force out at second. Eric Kalbfleisch swung at the first
pitch and hit the catcher’s glove and was awarded first base for catcher’s interference. This loaded the bases for pinch hitter Joey Roach (Georgia State). He hit a soft ground ball to the short stop, who tossed to second for the force, and a wild throw to first allowed two Turk runners to score. The River Bandits manager had seen enough from his starter, and decided to reach into his bullpen. Brady Badon was thrown right into the fire as he faced Jace Whitley. Whitley hit a towering fly ball to the deepest part of the park to score Roach from second. Whitley cruised around to second and raised his hands in the air to try to amp up his teammates. After five and a half the Turks led 6-3.
Logan Hoggarth saw the first offering from Ziemba and hit a hard ground ball in the hole between the shortstop and third basemen. After striking out the next hitter, Hoggarth stole second on a close throw from Matulia. Zach Jarrett saw another elevated fastball and drove it to the left center fence scoring Hoggarth. Jarrett slide into third and waited to be scored by his teammates. Coach Bob Wease decided to dig into the bullpen and bring in Boone Mokry (UTSA). The umpire called a questionable balk on Mokry scoring another run in the inning. After five innings, the Turks continued to lead 6-5.
Mitch Matulia kept his hot bat going in the top of the sixth by hitting a high fastball down the first baseline for a double. After getting a sacrifice bunt to advance Matulia to third, Spitz floated a single into right field to score Matulia from third. Spitz did not hesitate and stole second on the first pitch to Barr. Barr hit a soft ground ball to the right of the first baseman and was able to beat it out for an infield single scoring Spitz from second, the River Bandits skipper saw enough out of his reliever and brought in Connor Shockley. Shockley was able to retire Kalbfleisch with one pitch as Kalbfleisch hit a lazy fly ball to right field, ending the Turks brigade. After six innings the Turks were leading 8-5.
The Bandits spark plug led the seventh inning off by getting a five-pitch walk. With Hoggarth on first, Estaban Puerta hit a soft roller to third that looked like a Taylor made double play, but the Turks again fumbled the baseball. A sacrifice bunt from Mason Snyder moved the Bandit runners to second and third. Matt Davis crushed a fastball for a questionable home run tying the game at eight. The ball clearly landed in center field and bounced over the fence, however, after the two umpires had a discussion, they changed the ground rule double into a home run. This play changed the momentum of the game quickly as the Turks lead diminished.
However, the fireworks were not over for the Turks. Matt Rose decided to put the team on his back and hit the 0-1 fastball over the center field fence to put the Turks up 9-8 in the eleventh inning. There was no doubt the ball cleared the fence and left no room for discussion from the umpire. Tyler Brown pitched his way to his first win of the year after throwing three innings, while Logan Onda received his first save of the year after pitching a scoreless eleventh. Mark Baughman gets the loss for the Bandits. The Turks move to 3-3 on the year, while the Bandits fall to 1-5.