Turks drop both games to Express in doubleheader

Monday, June 13, 2022
John Breeden
Harrisonburg, VA

In their first doubleheader of the season, the Harrisonburg Turks went 0-2 against the Strasburg Express Sunday at Eagle Field. Harrisonburg is now 4-4 this season and 2-3 at home.

“[We] couldn’t scrape enough hits together,” Matt Kemp (UNC Greensboro) said. “When we did get hits, we had trouble executing when we needed to … I think it’s something we’re working on, we’ll get better at it.”

Game One
The Turks lost the first game 4-2. The Express struck first in the bottom of the second after designated hitter Ty Hooks (Winthrop) scored following a Turks fielding error. First baseman Garrett McMillan (Alabama) scored on an RBI groundout to make it a 2-0 game. The Turks fired back in the bottom of the second with center fielder Sam Schner (Florida Tech) driving in an RBI single. With two outs in the top of the fourth, Strasburg’s right fielder Zachary Mallia (UNC Greensboro) scored on another Turks fielding error. First baseman Christian Ficca (Georgetown U) hit a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the fifth — his first homer of the season. After the pitch count went to 2-0, Ficca said he knew a fastball was coming next. “He [the pitcher] threw me pretty much down the middle, so [I] just took advantage of it,” Ficca said.

The Turks struggled to keep the Express back in the top of the seventh as shortstop Armando Albert (Florida Atlantic) scored on an RBI single from left fielder Henry Koehler (Davidson) to make it a 4-2 game.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ficca reached first on an Express fielding error. Left fielder Jaylon Lee (JMU) walked and right fielder Bradley Bott (UNCG) was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.

Harrisonburg’s comeback attempt went up in smoke as Matt Mamatas (GA Southwestern St) hit a flyout to center field. Ficca attempted to score but was tagged out at home for the final out, giving Strasburg the 4-2 win. Despite the call, Ficca believes he was safe.

“I’m pretty sure I got my leg over the bag, to be honest,” Ficca said. “[The] guy [Corey Robinson] made a heck of a throw … but I’m pretty darn sure I beat him to the bag.”

Game two
The Turks lost game two 4-3 after eight innings. The Turks notched a pair of singles from Farris and Mamatas in the bottom of the second. Farris scored on an RBI single from catcher Garrett Warden (WV Tech) for the first run of the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, third baseman Matt Kemp (UNC Greensboro) walked — forcing a run.

The Express got on the board in the top of the fourth after pitcher Logan McClure (West VA Tech) walked Hooks with the bases loaded to force a run. This led to the Turks putting Jake Wolf (UNCG) on the mound.

Matt Kleinfelter (James Madison) stepped onto the mound for Harrisonburg in the top of the seventh. He struck out leadoff batter Reed Garris (Clemson) for the first out. Next up was right fielder Zack Austin (Jefferson) who smacked a solo home run to center field to tie the game at two. For the third time this season, the Turks were headed to extra innings.
Robinson (Florida) hit a leadoff double to right field in the bottom of the eighth — driving in Albert (ITB) to score. Robinson scored for Strasburg on an RBI from McMillan — who was tagged out at third.

Ficca (ITB) scored in the bottom of the eighth on a balk to put the Turks within one with one out — but they weren’t able to rally, as one more strikeout and groundout ended the game.

The Turks travel to Staunton Tuesday to face the Braves at 7:30 p.m.

They return home to host the Braves Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Despite the losses, Ficca believes the best thing the Turks have right now is the chemistry amongst the players. “[We’ve] got a lot of skill here obviously and a lot of good players but we get along on the field and I think we play well together,” Ficca said.