Turks’ Kirkpatrick Refines His Pitching In Familiar Territory

Written by Greg Madia
Daily News Record

  Harrisonburg, VA – Davis Kirkpatrick is in the process of making a change that longtime Harrisonburg Turks skipper Bob Wease could serve as a huge benefit to the right-handed pitcher next year.

A rising senior at East Carolina University, Kirkpatrick is spending his summer with the Turks redeveloping his pitching motion by throwing from an entirely new arm slot.

“I watched Davis last year at New Market and he threw over the top,” Wease said. “He wasn’t quite as effective as he is this year, and how he’s throwing from down under.”

“I think he’s become a prospect for the Major League Baseball draft next year, and right now, I think he’s one of the best pitchers in the Valley League.”

And Wease would know. More than two dozen Turks alumni — includingpitchers Jon Rauch, Logan Kensing, and most recently Emilio Pagan – have gone on to play in the big leagues. 

Entering Wednesday, in five relief appearances spanning 17 innings, Kirkpatrick had a .052 earned-run average — the second best mark in the Valley Baseball League. He’s 2-1 with one save.

In the spring at ECU, he pitched in 18 games and was 1-0, but posted an ERA of 5.25.

“My coaches (at ECU) and I, I think made the best decision for my career as of right now with the side-arm choice,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s really working out.”

Though he’ll admit he’s only still adjusting to the new angle of delivery, Kirkpatrick said he’s alread seen the differences of how the ball comes out of his hand.

“When you drop down, you just kind of get a more natural arm-side run with the fastball,” he said. “There’s more movement without having to create it and that’s the main thing.”

His best outing to date for the Turks came on June 9 in Harrisonburg’s 4-3 14-inning win over Charlottesville, which held a league-best 13-5 record going into Wednesday.

Having entered the game in the seventh inning, Kirkpatrick tossed eight shutout innings while striking out six Tom Sox hitters to pick up the win.

“I had never throw eight innings in relief before,” he said. “But that was a fun night.”

The pitches he uses are a fastball, slider and changeup — all good enough to get hitters out, Wease said.

Wease said Kirkpatrick has been the Turks’ most consistent pitcher this season.

“he’s shown all year long that he’s capable,” Wease said.

Kirkpatrick said he joined the Turks this season so he could spend the day at home with his family which lives in Harrisonburg. His dad, Donnie Kirkpatrick, is James Madison football’s offensive coordinator.

“he’s been able to come watch me pitch,” the younger Kirkpatrick said. “He’s got more opportunity since it’s here compared to school ball, so it’s a good deal.

“And it’s just really nice when you get to stay at home. You get the home-cooked meals from mom and then come play a baseball game at night. I just feel comfortable here.”

Throughout the rest of the Valley Baseball League season, Kirkpatrick said he will continue to fine-tune the revamped pitching delivery.

“What I really want to work on is just attacking hitters each time out,” Kirkpatrick said. “I just need to get more innings in to work on getting more strikeouts.”

Through 17 innings, Kirkpatrick’s strikeout numbers are up compared to his college season. For the Pirates, he struck out 20 hitters in 24 innings. For the Turks he’s struck out 16 hitters so far.

He said he hopes more solid innings will help Harrisonburg contend for a league title, and more importantly, translate into a strong senior year at ECU.