Harrisonburg Tags Woodstock as its Latest Walk-Off Victim in Sunday’s 6-5 VictoryBy Chase Kiddy | Harrisonburg Turks Staff Writer
W: Luke Scherzer (2-0)
L: Justin Ratte (2-2)
The Turks posted their fifth walk-off win of the season last night, with speedster Thomas Spitz scoring from first base in the bottom of the 11th inning thanks to Jesse Baker’s RBI double. Harrisonburg remains the 1st place team in the Valley League by half a game, with one full week to play in the regular season.
In the umpteenth down-up-down game of the season, Harrisonburg (23-12) trailed the River Bandits 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, but a Woodstock pitching change breathed new life into the Turks’ offense. After starter Austin Munn walked lead-off hitter Joey Roach, the River Bandits elected to relieve him in favor of Ryan Bennett.
Bennett, however, beamed Thomas Spitz and gave up a single through the hole to Steven McLean before any of the fans could even realize there was a different player on the mound. Then, second baseman Thomas Smith did Thomas Smith-like things, firing a double down the left field line that rolled all the way into the corner and scoring Roach, Spitz and McLean to tie the game at four runs apiece. Smith scored, too, when first baseman Daniel Nichols laced a base hit into left center just before the end of the inning.
But Woodstock wasn’t quite done. Luke Scherzer, who had only entered the game in the 7th inning himself, gave up a bad homer to first baseman Esteban Puerta. It went for around 375 feet, straight over the left field wall of Veterans Memorial Park, and the game was tied again, 5-5.
The Turks put a couple of men on base after that, but no one really threatened to end the game either way until the bottom of the 11th. Spitz sliced a sharply hit grounder through the infield to second base, and Brett Lashley couldn’t quite reign in the ball. The ball bounced off his glove and rolled a couple of feet in front of him before he scrambled to make the throw to first. Spitz, one of the fastest players in the League, was able to beat out the throw and reached on error.
One batter later, Jesse Baker smashed a double down the left field line, and Spitz scored from first, ending the game.
Scherzer earned the win after going 4.1 innings, striking out five River Bandits, and only giving up one hit outside of Puerta’s home run. He improves his record to 2-0, with both wins coming against Woodstock. The first was a similar four-inning appearance on June 29.
Despite a rough 7th inning, Ben Parr turned in one of his strongest outings of the season on the mound, notching seven strikeouts and only one run on two hits through the first six frames.
McLean finished the game 3 of 3 with a run scored and a walk. Nichols finished 2 of 3 with an RBI, a score and two walks.
Harrisonburg leads Front Royal (24-14) by half a game with seven calendar days left in the Valley League regular season. Tonight, the Turks are slated to attempt a make-up game with the Royals (14-22) in Winchester, should the weather permit.
Tuesday is perhaps the most critical day for playoff seeding for the rest of the regular season:
- Front Royal will try to keep pace in Waynesboro (21-16).
- Staunton (22-15) is scheduled to play Covington (16-19), which is trying to cling to its current playoff spot with plenty of would-be usurpers in tow right behind them.
- Most importantly, the Turks will have to fend off the Charles Town Cannons (21-15), who are 3-0 against Harrisonburg this season by a combined score of 18-6.
Come out to Veterans Memorial Park Tuesday night for a 7:30 start time against Charles Town. The playoffs are nearly here.
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.