Turks come from behind to defeat Lumberjacks in a walk-off

Friday, July 22, 2022
John Breeden
Harrisonburg, VA

The Harrisonburg Turks rallied from a 7-1 deficit in the bottom of the eighth to take a 8-7 win over the Covington Lumberjacks Wednesday night at Veterans Memorial Park. The win moves them to 24-12 on the season and keeps them in the south division lead.

“There’s never really a doubt per se with the team,” second baseman Matthew Mamatas said. “I never really thought that the team gave up … we just put together at-bats, stayed patient at the plate, had a lot of walks, and did what we could to come out with the win.”

The Lumberjacks were first to score in the top of the fourth as first baseman Nate Stocum (Western Carolina U) was driven in on a single from catcher Michael Piulats (ASA College).

The Turks tied it up in the bottom of the fifth when Mamatas (Georgia Southwestern) drove in Jaylon Lee (EMU) on a single.

The top of the sixth was a story of fielding errors for the Turks. The Lumberjacks scored three runs in the inning and two were unearned due to Harrisonburg fielding errors. The other run was Michael Pavelchak (Post U) driving in Gavin Baird (Eastern Kentucky U) on an RBI single.

Things got worse for the Turks in the top of the seventh as Piulats drove in shortstop Carlos Castillo (Dayton) on an RBI single. The Lumberjacks racked up two more unearned runs in the inning to increase their lead to six.

Harrisonburg wouldn’t go down without a fight as designated hitter Mitch Farris (Wingate) drove in Mamatas on an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

“We’ve shown that we can show up in the first inning and put up a five-spot and jump all over teams,” Mamatas said. “Now we see that it doesn’t really matter at what point the game is in, we can come back. We’re never out of the game.”

The Turks kept the ball rolling in this inning as first baseman Mikey Rosario (Miami) got to first on a Covington fielding error — allowing two runners to cross home plate. Third baseman Christian Ficca (Georgetown) drove in Casey Smith (JMU) on an RBI single to cut the lead to two. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jake Stadler stepped up to pinch hit and walked — forcing Rosario home to make it a one-run game. Next up was Mamatas who also walked — forcing the
tying run home. In the bottom of the ninth with runners on second and third, Ficca hit a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Smith to score the game-winning run.

“Casey did that whole thing himself,” Ficca said. “That double steal was massive because all I’m thinking now is, ‘Hit a fly ball to the outfield to win the game.’ [It] made my job much easier.”

On the mound, for the seventh time, this season was Logan McClure (West Virginia Tech) who pitched 4.2 innings and sat three batters down on strikes. Ficca said Jacob McClure’s (Georgia Southwestern St) pitching was “awesome” as he pitched the last two innings, throwing three strikeouts and allowing no hits.

“I feel like we had to back him [Jacob] up today because they did a great job the whole game,” Ficca said. “It almost puts an extra jump in the hitters, seeing the pitchers battling and doing a good job.”