Raging Turks Storm Back to Cut Down Senators in 12 InningsBy Chase Kiddy | Harrisonburg Turks Staff Writer
W: Brandon Gold (1-0)
L: Patrick Wright (0-1)
In a wild night of lineup changes, double plays, controversial calls and unorthodox pitching batteries, Harrisonburg snapped a three-game skid in movie script fashion, recovering from a near-fatal call in the seventh and eventually beating Aldie 7-6 thanks to Jesse Baker’s walk-off RBI double.
Harrisonburg (18-10) found itself on the wrong end of another big deficit Friday night, trailing Aldie 6-0 after 5 1/2 innings. The Turks persevered, though. They got on the board after Thomas Smith hit a towering double onto the left field warning track, and Eric Kalbfleisch hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring him home from third.
Then, in the seventh, the game got chippy. Harrisonburg had already cut the Aldie lead to 6-3 on Joey Roach’s 2-RBI double. Roach had advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Smith had been walked to first. So with two runners on, Matt Rose rocketed a ball over the left field wall that appeared to clear the foul line by five or six feet, tying the game. But the umpire waved the ball off as foul, and Rose eventually reached first on another walk. Kalbfleisch flew out to right to end the inning.
Immediately after, several players were playing visibly angry on the field. In the top of the eighth, with left fielder Eric Kalbfleisch on the mound, Aldie shortstop Derek Evans hit a leadoff single. But during the next at bat, Rose came up with a quick catch on Garret Vrbanic’s line drive and fired it over to first with vitriol to clear out the bags and register two outs.
Later, the Turks pushed another one across in the bottom of the eighth, but were still trailing 6-4 in the ninth inning. Then, Brandon Gold appeared. With a full count and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Gold delivered a nice base hit to left field that immediately scored Christopher Barr from third. But when Aldie outfielder Matt Albanese mishandled the grab, Smith seized the opportunity to score, rounding third and pushing the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 12th, with one Senator already on first after Gold’s only walk, Rose made another impressive defensive play, diving for a sharply hit grounder up the third base line and rippling it over to first in time for the out.
And then, in the bottom of the inning, Gold took a walk to get on base, was bunted forward by catcher Mitchell Matulia and scored when Jesse Baker snapped a double through the air down the third base line. Gold crossed the plate, and everyone went home. The final clock on the game was just a few minutes shy of four hours.
Already the hero of the night twice over, Gold also earned the win in Friday night’s ball game. With six games to play in the next four days, the coaching staff inserted Gold after the ninth inning in an effort to preserve the bullpen for later games. The gamble paid off — Gold pitched three innings of no-hit baseball and posts his first win of the season in his third mound appearance.
After six total innings, Gold has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHP of 0.500.
Several Turks commanded nice games Friday night, including Roach (2 of 3, 2 RBI), Smith (2 of 5, 2 runs scored) and Daniel Nichols (2 of 5, 2 RBI).
The Turks play in New Market on Saturday and return home Monday evening for a matchup with the rival Waynesboro Generals. That game is scheduled to start at 7:30pm.
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.