Turks top Tom Sox 4-3 with walk-off RBI

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Written by John Breeden
Harrisonburg, VA

James Madison’s Casey Smith hit a single to right field to drive in the game-winning run for the Harrisonburg Turks over the Charlottesville Tom Sox to open the 2022 Valley Baseball League season Friday night at Eagle Field. “Jaylon Lee (EMU) called it,” Smith said. “He said ‘I’m going to bunt him [Ficca] over [to second base and] you’re going to knock him in.’”


Turks pitcher Logan McClure (WV Tech) kept the Tom Sox at bay early, throwing five strikeouts and allowing only two hits through the first three innings. Harrisonburg struggled to get going on the hitting side, going without a hit through the first three innings.

The Turks got on the board in the bottom of the fourth on their first hit of the game as left fielder Jaylon Lee (EMU) notched an RBI triple. Lee later scored following an RBI groundout from catcher Garrett Warden (WV Tech).

James Madison’s Matt Kleinfelter stepped onto the mound for the Turks in the top of the sixth, throwing three strikeouts on the night. He faced a critical point in the game. With runners on second and third with one out, he was able to sit the next two batters down on strikes to end the inning and prevent the Tom Sox from scoring.

“I think the big thing was just resetting after every pitch and not trying to get too antsy or frustrated with a [pitch] call,” Kleinfelter said.

The Turks were in another tough spot in the top of the seventh, but this time didn’t leave unscathed. With runners on the corners, Charlottesville’s third baseman Charles Crawford drove in a run on a one-out single, giving the Tom Sox their first run of the game. The game was tied at two after center fielder Merelik Israel drove in a run on a Turks error.

The Tom Sox took the lead in the top of the eighth when right fielder Tristan Bissetta slammed a solo home run to right field.

The Turks rallied in the bottom of the eighth with shortstop Matt Mamatas (GA Southwestern) reaching second base on a Tom Sox error. He later scored on a passed ball to tie the game at three.

Turks first baseman Christian Ficca (Georgetown) got on base with a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the ninth. Lee grounded out on a bunt sacrifice getting Ficca to second. Next up was Smith, who hit a single to right field to drive Ficca home and win the game 4-3.

Smith said it was a “euphoric” feeling to nail the game-winning hit. “I think the biggest thing right now is coming together as a team,” Smith said. “We have a bunch of good players from all over the country, so it’ll be a good season.

The Turks travel to Waynesboro Sunday to face the Generals at 7 p.m. They return home Monday to host the Covington Lumberjacks at 7:30 p.m.