Soggy Nights For Turks

7/8/05 – Daily News Record

Turks Endure Yet Another Rain Out Bowling anyone? Harrisonburg’s VBL team endured another rainout Thursday – its fifth in 10 days. By DUSTIN DOPIRAK Daily News-Record The Harrisonburg Turks spent much of the late afternoon Thursday trying to decide if they would make it a team bowling night. It was a last-minute deal, because they thought they would be on the road playing the Staunton Braves in a Valley League baseball game. "We just got free bowling passes [at Valley Lanes]," relief pitcher Chris Fessler of Yavapai College said. "So we need to use those." The Turks (14-11), who are at least scheduled to play at Covington at 7:30 p.m. today, have had to come up with alternative ways of spending their evenings lately. After a mostly dry June in which their first 21 games went off without a hitch, they have had five rainouts in the last 10 days. All of the games have been rescheduled. The game scheduled for June 28 at Woodstock has been moved to July 11, and the June 30 home game against Front Royal will be played July 18. The July 1 game at home against Woodstock will be played as part of a doubleheader July 15. The first game will start at 6 p.m. and both games will be seven innings. Tuesday’s rain-out at home against Luray will be played July 12, and Thursday’s game at Staunton will be made up on July 21. Several players said the Turks usually go to the gym to work out when the rain gives them a day off. But after that, there’s still a lot of time to kill. On a positive note, that has given the Turks extra time for team bonding — a valuable asset in the NCAA-sanctioned Valley League, because the players come from schools nationwide and often don’t meet their teammates until the season starts in June. "Sometimes, we’ll have some guys over to the house to hang out and play cards," first baseman Jeff Carroll of Ohio State said. "The guys on the team are real cool. We all have fun together when we hang out, so that helps the enthusiasm." On the other hand, the rainouts mess with the players’ routine. After spending the day gearing up for a game, they have to wind back down to play cards and watch movies. "It was especially frustrating in a couple of the games when we actually started before we got rained out," Carroll said. "You get out there, take batting practice, you play the first or second inning, you’re ready to go and then it starts raining. It’s frustrating, but you just have to remember it’s a long summer. … We have plenty of games, and as much as you want to play, you can’t do anything." The rainouts also force Turks manager Bob Wease to shuffle his pitching rotation. Though Wease said the plan is usually to use the pitcher scheduled to start the night of a rainout on the next day, it doesn’t always work out that way. Left-handed pitcher Stephen Ochs (2-1, 1.67 ERA) of Florida State started the Turks game against Woodstock July 1 that was rained out after an inning, but hasn’t pitched a game that counted since June 23. Right hander Eric Fussell (0-2, 1.33 ERA) has had an even longer layoff. The hurler from St. Joseph’s College in Indiana hasn’t been on the mound in a game since June 22. The Turks’ new schedule also makes for some difficult adjustments. The five rainouts took away all of their remaining open dates. They will now play 19 games in 19 days. The only day the whole team won’t play will be Sunday, the date of the Valley League’s All-Star Game at Winchester. Though most of the Turks have played longer schedules in college than the Valley League’s 44-game slate, they’ve usually had down time during the week between weekend series. "The most games I’ve ever played in a row is maybe eight games," outfielder Dean Cademartori of Southern Illinois said. "We might get worn out, but if we keep playing good and keep working every single day, we’ll be all right." Wease said he’s really hoping the rain stops, because if it doesn’t, he’ll have to start scheduling more doubleheaders. He also said he hopes the season doesn’t have to go any longer than it’s scheduled. He said that every year about this time, players start getting homesick and thinking about leaving the team. "They start getting antsy," Wease said. "The summer’s half over, they’re missing their girlfriends. They decide they want to go home. … During rain-out dates, you’re sitting around. When you’re playing, you don’t have time to sit around, but when you’re getting rain-outs for days at a time, and when you have time to think, that’s when it starts to hit you." Wease has already lost three players, though none to homesickness. First baseman Clint Robinson (Troy) left after a broken hand cost him the rest of the season. Outfielder Ricky Feliz (Frank Phillips Junior College) left to see his ailing grandfather, and infielder Clay Kovac (Indiana State) left after hurting his back.