Harrisonburg Ups Home-Win Streak to Three After Weekend WinsChase Kiddy | Harrisonburg Turks Staff Writer
W: Garrett Ford (2-1)
L: Kooper Kessler (1-1)
S: Tyler Brown (1)
Center fielder Thomas Spitz knocked in shorstop Steven McClean for the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh, and Harrisonburg won its third straight home game 5-4 over the visiting Staunton Braves on Saturday night.
Harrisonburg (6-5) led 4-2 after six innings, but Staunton capitalized on two hits and an error in the top of the seventh to even the score at four runs apiece. After Turks starter Garrett Ford gave up a pair of hits to center fielder Joey Rodriguez and left fielder Hunter Thomas, second baseman Thomas Smith dropped a high-hit fly ball that scored both runners and tied the game.
But McClean, who’s built quite the reputation as an electric, how-did-he-do-that playmaker in the hole, saved the day when he doubled down the left field line into the corner just half an inning later. Immediately afterward, Spitz singled into left field, plating McClean for what would eventually prove the game-winning run.
Ford went eight full innings before reliever Tyler Brown was inserted for the save. Brown struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning to ice the one-run win after a neat two hours and four minutes.
Brown and Ford both sport matching 2-1 records after the Turks’ 11th game of the season. Saturday night’s win was Brown’s first save of the year.
Kooper Kessler takes the close loss for Staunton (4-6). Kessler allowed four earned runs on six hits in seven innings of action, fanning five. It’s only his second start of the season, after an eight-inning shutout performance in Aldie back on June 7.
Spitz and left fielder Eric Kalbfleisch both finished 2 of 4 with an RBI on the night. Spitz, who is hitting .366 on the season, also added a run scored in the bottom of the first.
On Friday night, the Turks played late into the night, finally pushing past the visiting Strasburg Express (3-5) after 13 innings. Just before midnight, and with one out in what would prove the final frame, Smith smacked a double deep into the outfield that rolled onto the warning track. After Matt Rose and Brandon Gold both took walks, pinch hitter Jesse Baker whizzed a neat single right down the left field line. Express outfielder Jose Banilla couldn’t even break on the ball before Smith had crossed home plate and secured the Turks fourth win of the season.
Logan Onda was terrific out of the bullpen for the Turks Friday night. Onda, usually a closer who throws no more than a handful of outs, threw six strong innings in relief, entering the game in the top of the eighth when the score was tied 2-2.
Onda fanned seven and only gave up one run, earning his first win of the year and improving his record to 1-1. His sterling 0.87 ERA is third in the league among pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings.
Starter Kevin Lewallyn went for seven innings, allowing two runs (both in the top of the fourth) and retiring three. His record remains at 1-0, after receiving two no decisions in his first three starts.
Smith finished 3 of 7 with 2 RBI and the game-winning score. Thomas Spitz finished 1 of 3 with a run scored a four walks.
The Turks are away all next week and won’t be back home at Veterans Memorial Park until a make-up game with the Aldie Senators. That contest has been rescheduled for Monday, June 23.
Chase Kiddy has served as the Harrisonburg Turks’ staff writer since Spring 2012. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or yell at him in the press box during home games at Veterans Memorial Park.