Turks Recapture 1st Place With Matulia’s 3-RBI DoubleBy Chase Kiddy | Harrisonburg Turks Staff Writer
W: Logan Onda (5-1)
L: Dylan Brownmiller (0-1)
After trailing most of the game, the Turks rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning on Friday night, scoring three runs thanks to Mitchell Matulia’s bases-loaded double and beating the first place Front Royal Cardinals 6-5. The Turks and Cardinals are now tied for first place in the Valley League with only a handful of games remaining before the start of the 2014 VBL playoffs.
Harrisonburg (22-12) trailed 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Turks dug deep to reverse their fortunes. Right fielder Christopher Barr hit a lead-off double that dropped right into the right field corner. With the tying run in the on-deck circle, relief pitcher Dyllan Brownmiller — who had entered into the game one inning earlier for Front Royal starter Keefan Long — lost control of a pitch and hit Daniel Nichols in the right leg. Matt Rose made it three straight Turks to reach base when he singled through the left side, loading the bases, and Eric Kalbfleisch’s subsequent ground-out to second scored Barr to bring the score to 5-3.
Later in the inning, with two outs, Brownmiller walked center fielder Thomas Spitz to load the bases for a second time. This time, the Turks would really capitalize. Catcher Mitchell Matulia hit a soaring double into left center that sailed over the heads of Front Royal outfielders Jacob Russell and Nick Sinay, who may have been playing too shallow. The ball bounced around on the warning track, providing enough time for Nichols, Rose, and Spitz to all score.
Matulia was eventually stranded on second when Brownmiller struck out Steven McLean, but the Turks had seized the lead, 6-5, for the first time since the second inning.
In the top of the ninth, Logan Onda secured his team-leading fifth win of the season. Pinch hitter Zarley Zalewski managed a base hit, and pinch runner Garrett Anderson reached third after a wild pitch and a ground-out, but Onda struck out pinch hitter Josh Keim to end the inning and the game.
Matulia, the hero of Friday’s game, finished 3 of 4 with 3 RBI with his family in town to watch the game. Nichols finished 2 of 3 with 2 runs scored.
Onda’s fifth win of the summer is tied for the best mark in the VBL. Only Front Royal’s Jake Harper has as many wins.
Front Royal (23-13) and Harrisonburg are tied atop the Valley League standings, though the Turks do get the nod on percentage points. They will not play each other again in the regular season, though they could meet in a potential championship matchup in the VBL playoffs, if the current standings hold through the end of the season.
Harrisonburg will take its final resting day of the regular season on Saturday before gearing up for its stretch run: nine games over the next eight days. Highlights from the gantlet include a home game with huge playoff implications against surging Charles Town (20-13) on Tuesday, three games with rival New Market, and a home-and-home finale with Covington.
The Turks will be home Sunday night to play the Woodstock River Bandits. Game time, as usual, is 7:30pm.
Chase Kiddy has served as the Harrisonburg Turks’ staff writer since Spring 2012. Contact him at email@example.com, or yell at him in the press box during home games at Veterans Memorial Park.