Turks Open 2018 With Win

SHS Grad Irvin Inserted

By Greg Madia
Daily News Record

HARRISONBURG – When Cameron Irvine arrived at Veterans Memorial Park to make his Harrisonburg Turks debut on Monday, even he didn’t expect to play much.

“Honestly if I thought I was going to go in the game, it’d be in the late innings,” said Irvine, a 2017 Spotswood grad who just wrapped up his freshman season at Virginia Tech.

But by the end of the contest, Irvine collected two hits, including a single to start an eighth-inning rally before scoring the go-ahead run in Harrisonburg’s 4-2 season-opening victory over Winchester in Valley Baseball League action.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Irvine singled and advanced to second when Winchester starter Nicholas Beardsley issued a walk to Turks three-hitter Paul Castillo.

The walk knocked Beardsley out of the game and allowed Harrisonburg to face reliever Ryan Flores.

“So he threw Luke three (sliders),” Whelton said. “And he started e off with a (slider), so I said, I’m siting (slider).”

Whelton wacked the second pitch he saw to deep center, flying well beyond outfielder Justin Meekins’ reach. Irvine scored easily from second to break the 2-2 tie, and Castillo added an insurance run when he raced home from first. Whelton got all the way to third.

Whelton, who plays collegiately at McNeese State, finished 3-for-4 with the triple, two singles, two RBIs and a run scored.

“Whelton put a good swing on the slider,” Winchester manager Jacob Mays said. “I probably should have called for an inside fastball, but I thought the slider is Flores’ best pitch and went to it again, but (Whelton) was ready for it.

“I put that one on me and my pitching staff knows that.”

Irvine said scoring the go-ahead run was the perfect way to start his summer. The former Trailblazer and three-time All-Valley District choice hit .194 in 93 at-bats during his first season with the Hokies.

He was inserted in the first inning as a pinch runner for shortstop Josh Jones – a rising sophomore at James Madison. While hustling to beat out a potential double play, Jones appeared to hurt his foot on first base, sprinting down the line.

Seventeenth-year skipper Bob Wease plugged in Irvine to run and them bumped starting third baseman Kyle Johnson to shortstop, so Irvine could play third. Irvine eventually moved to left field later in the game.

“Cam Irvine hit the ball hard tonight,” Wease said. “He played a good ball game and made a nice play at third. He just did a good job.”

“I didn’t feel great,” Irvine said. “I didn’t take that good of a batting practice, and I dug myself into some holes at the plate. I was down two strikes a lot, but I just battled and if you put the bat on the ball, good things happen.”

The two-run eighth helped Harrisonburg starting pitcher Jake Brace – Georgia Tech property – avoid a hard-luck loss. Brace threw seven innings and gave up just two runs while striking out eight.

“Jake did one hell of a job,” Wease said.

Harrisonburg (1-0) plays its first road game tonight at Front Royal. The Turks will throw Florida State’s Alex Carpenter, Wease said.

Winchester      100  010  000 – 2 6 1
Harrisonburg  000 200 02x — 4 8 0
   Beardsley, Flores (8), Sidewell (8) and Hanson; Brace, Schindler (8), Karklin (9) and Whelton. WP — Schlinder (1-0). LP — Beardsley (0-1)  SV — Karklin (1)