Harrisonburg’s Streak Snapped

7/03/04 – Daily News Record

By ROBERT STOCKS Byrd Newspapers WINCHESTER – Harrisonburg and Winchester entered Friday’s Valley Baseball League game as the two hottest teams in the league, and Bruce Sprowl and Chris Howell made sure the Royals continued their winning ways. Sprowl extended his hitting streak to 13 games by going 3 for 4 and Howell tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout to lead Winchester to its eighth straight win with a 4-0 victory over Harrisonburg at Bridgeforth Field. Howell, a right-hander from the University of Tennessee, struck out seven to snap Harrisonburg’s six-game winning streak in Friday night’s battle of division leaders. After losing in his debut, Howell (3-1) won his third straight decision for the Royals (16-8). "There was just one ball hit hard for a hit and you’ve got to take your hat off — (Howell) was outstanding tonight," said Winchester manager Keith Little. "We didn’t swing the bats well, but they gave us a little help there at the end and we made them pay for it." Sprowl, a junior from Louisiana State University, continued his tear with a lead-off double in the bottom of the first. He stole third and then scored on an RBI groundout by Marcus Ross. The Turks (14-9) committed a pair of errors in the loss. Harrisonburg starter Will Mann walked Adam McDaniel and an error by the Turks’ defense led to the Royals’ second run. Jeremy Terni hit a grounder, but Harrisonburg shortstop Joe Yeager’s throw to first was high and McDaniel scored on the error to put Winchester ahead 2-0. Staked to a two-run advantage, Howell kept Harrisonburg hitters off-balance all night and seemed to get stronger in the late innings. Howell retired seven straight Harrisonburg batters until he hit Reggie Watson with two outs in the eighth inning. The Royals’ right-hander only threw 90 pitches through the first eight innings. Harrisonburg’s Joe Kemp singled to lead off the ninth, but the Turks failed to get a runner in scoring position. Turks designated hitter Matt Weglarz followed and hit into a double play. Weglarz hit a grounder to shortstop Eric Patten, who turned two with second baseman Adam McDaniel. Howell retired Yeager with an infield pop-up for the final out. "You can’t win with three hits and you’ve got to give them credit," said Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease. "In the first inning we had a couple boo-boos and they ended up getting two runs and that sort of set the tone." The Turks never had a runner reach third base and only three runners moved into scoring position (reaching second) all night. Winchester added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Sprowl and McDaniel, the Royals’ top two hitters, accounted for all four of the team’s runs. Sprowl singled off Harrisonburg reliever Andrew Weber to start the inning. McDaniel reached on an error and took second after his grounder got by Yeager at short. Weber walked Derek Sain to load the bases. Sprowl scored after a wild pitch by Weber. McDaniel scored Winchester’s fourth run on a sacrifice bunt by Clint Wade. "Tonight we didn’t really hit the ball that well, but we played defense and manufactured some runs when we needed to," said Sprowl, who had three of Winchester’s five hits. "We’re just finding ways to score and win. "Plus, Howell threw an excellent game. He came out and shut them down early and that set the tone." Howell allowed just two hits through eight innings. He retired 12 Harrisonburg batters on ground-ball outs. Howell was glad he could give the Royals’ relievers the night off. "It’s big-time to go out and save your bullpen as many games as we play, especially ‘cause we play every night," Howell said. "If you can get a starter to go a complete game it just helps the team out and helps the bullpen." Mann worked seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs (just one earned) in the loss. He stuck out five and walked two in his first game for the Turks. Harrisonburg 000 000 000 – 0 3 2 Winchester 200 000 02x – 4 5 2 Mann, Weber (8) and Diaz; Howell and Paxton. W- Howell (3-1). L- Mann (0-1). HR- None.