Turks Turn To The Mann

7/29/04 – Daily News Record

By DUSTIN DOPIRAK Daily News-Record Part of the reason Harrisonburg pitcher Will Mann was throwing in Thursday night’s meaningless game against Waynesboro was to save aces Tim Gudex and Nick Pereira for the first round of the playoffs. He came into the game ranked sixth among Turks starters with a 4.82 ERA. Thursday, however, Mann looked like the guy the Turks should have been saving. Mann was masterful in a 5-0 victory over the Generals (15-27), turning in what was by far his best performance of this season in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people at Memorial Stadium. He struck out a season-high 13 batters in eight innings while allowing just two hits and two walks. The rangy Florida Atlantic right-hander (2-2) used four pitches, and he threw every one of them for strikes. His fastball was overpowering and had plenty of movement. His change-up was baffling, and his slider and splitter were virtually unhittable. "Sometimes, he has a little bit too much movement on his pitches, so he has a rough night if guys aren’t swinging," catcher Matt Weglarz (Southwest Missouri State) said. "But tonight, all four of his pitches were in the zone, and that makes it very tough for batters to hit him." Turks pitching coach Scott Feldman told Mann to focus on getting ahead in counts, something he has struggled with at times early in games. Mann certainly listened to those words. He threw first-pitch strikes to five of the first six batters he faced and 18 of the 29. Until the seventh inning, he went to a three-ball count only once when he pitched Charles Schultz to a 3-2 count and walked him. No batter faced a 3-0 count, and only two faced 3-1 counts, one in the seventh and one in the eighth. Only three faced 2-0 counts. "A lot of times, I get behind guys, then I have to start giving them fat pitches that they tee off on," Mann said. "Tonight, I wanted to go after guys, and other than the seventh inning when I let a couple guys get on, I felt like I was going after guys and hitting my spots." The seventh inning was the only time Mann got in trouble. Generals right fielder Matt Bransfeld reached on an error to lead off the frame. After a strikeout, third baseman Irvin McFarland lined a single to right field and left fielder Brent McWhorter walked on five pitches to load the bases. Mann then bore down, striking out the next two batters to escape the inning. Part of the reason Mann felt so comfortable going after hitters were the four runs the Turks (29-14) scored in the first inning. Designated hitter Ryan Parker and second baseman Joe Yeager each had RBI singles and two more runs scored on errors. "That gives you so much confidence on the mound," he said. "You’re not afraid to go right at guys when you have that big of a lead." Mann’s performance makes the Turks’ pitching staff look all the more intimidating. They have at least six hurlers from whom they can expect quality starts. Mann is expected to get his next start in the first game of the semifinals should the Turks get that far. "It’s great to finish the season with an outing like this," Mann said. "I’m just hoping I can get some momentum from it and carry it over to the playoffs." Harrisonburg ends the regular season against Waynesboro again tonight, this time on the road. Waynesboro 000 000 0 0 2 5 Harrisonburg 400 000 10x 5 8 1 Chuck Mellies, Zac Cole (8) and Dan Mellies, Josh Bieneman (8); Will Mann, Andrew Weber (9). W-Mann. L-Mellies