Shelton Earns his First Decision of the Season; Turks on Brink of Second Consecutive PennantBy Chase Kiddy | Harrisonburg Turks Staff Writer
W: Tanner Shelton (1-0)
L: Garrett Kelly (3-2)
The Turks reached the precipice of their second straight Valley League pennant on Friday night, dropping five runs on New Market in the bottom of the fifth and earning their 28th win of the season in a wire-to-wire win over the Rebels.
Harrisonburg (28-13) looked every bit like the best team in the Valley League on Friday. A huge home crowd brought out the best in the Turks, who went off in the fifth inning to demoralize the Rebels. Thomas Smith hit a lead-off triple into the right field corner, and scored eight seconds later when Thomas Spitz knocked a base hit into right.
Spitz stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before first baseman Daniel Nichols could take first base on a walk; Nichols reached scoring position one pitch later on another Garrett Kelly wild pitch, this one to third baseman Matt Rose.
Rose hit a slow-rolling single through the left side, which Jake Kimble dived for and just barely missed, scoring Spitz and Nichols.
Rose scored from first during the next at bat, when designated hitter Eric Kalbfleisch hit a triple into right center field that rolled all the way to the warning track before any of the outfielders could make a play on it. Kalbfleisch scored, too, when Jesse Baker hit a poptart into shallow right field.
Five runs was enough for the Rebels. New Market swapped Garrett Kelly for Colton Steber, who tallied three outs before any more runs could be scored. But Harrisonburg’s lead had already ballooned to 7-0, and the Rebels seemed out of the game.
New Market did make one last-ditch push in the eighth inning. With Shelton’s arm finally tiring, after 7 2/3, JR Holloway came out of the pen to close out the game. Runners on first and second scored when Holloway gave up a double on his first at bat. Carpenter scored as well, when Holloway gave up a second double to Tim Kiene.
Holloway eventually loaded the bases, and with the score at 7-3, the game suddenly didn’t feel so out of hand. But he struck out New Market’s Jason Smith to end the eighth inning, and the rally with it.
Smith reached on an errant throw from shortstop Jake Kimble in the bottom of the eighth, made his way to third, and scored on a wild pitch to finalize the scoring at 8-3.
Shelton, who had only started two games before Friday night, earned his first decision of the season.
Rose had a great game, finishing 2 of 3 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.
The Turks have played New Market (15-26) three times since Thursday evening. They’ve won all three games by wide margins, outscoring the Rebels by a total of 22-6.
Despite the three losses, New Market has been surging of late, and can make the Valley League playoffs with a strong outing this weekend. They trail Aldie for the final spot by 1.5 games. Should they seize the eighth seed, they would likely play Harrisonburg in the first round.
Harrisonburg has won nine of its last ten games and can clinch the VBL pennant and top accompanying top spot in the playoffs with a win over Covington Saturday night in the regular season home finale. That game, as always, is scheduled for 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.