Turks Go To The Well(s)

7/20/2006 – Daily News Record

Daily News Record Written by Joe Lemire And Little Pitcher Gets The Save In 4-2 Victory Woodstock – Danny Wells doesn’t stand tall on the rubber. In fact, even with the benefit of a 10-inch mound, the Turks’ 5-foot-8 left-handed reliever still doesn’t quite match the height of his 6-foot-7 bullpen counterparts, Philip Bartleski and Jonathan Vallen. But performance isn’t measured in inches. It’s measured in outs, and no one has been better than Wells in getting outs this summer for the Turks. Entering a one-run ballgame, Wells got a six-out save as Harrisonburg added an insurance run in the ninth to beat the Woodstock River Bandits 4-2 in a Valley League baseball game Wednesday night. "He’s a competitor," said Harrisonburg designated hitter Evan LeBlanc, who went 2-for-2 with two walks. "He goes out there and he doesn’t care if you’re 7 feet tall, 300 pounds with 70 home runs – he doesn’t care. He feels he goes out there and can strike anybody out." In making his 17th appearance on Wednesday, Wells added two more strikeouts to his season total – 37 in 29 innings – and, in the process of earning his second save, lowered his team-best ERA to 1.55. "As a reliever, we’ve got so much weight on our shoulders," Said Wells, who pitches for Southern Illinois. "We don’t have time to make mistakes – you’ve got to be perfect." Wells protected a slim 3-2 lead for Harrisonburg – a lead tallied one run at a time thanks to situational hitting – and kept the Turks (21-15) in the Southern Division pennant race. Waynesboro (24-13) beat Staunton 3-1 on Wednesday to maintain a 2 1/2 game lead. Wells also saved a win for starter Shawn Joy, who threw seven innings of two-run ball. It was a rare win for Joy, who entered the game with a 1-5 record despite a sub- 4.00 ERA. "He’s been our go-to-guy all year long," Harrisonburg coach Bob Wease said of Wells. "He’s just a jutty little guy – he’s 5-6, 5-7 and 150 pounds but he gives you everythings he’s got." The roster lists Wells at 160 pounds, but however much he actually weights, he doesn’t cut an imposing figure on the hill, though he never shies away from a hitter, mixing a strong fastball with a slider that breaks down and away from left-handed hitters. "Hitters will get themselves out," Wells said. "If you make your pitches and you compete, they’ll get themselves out, you know what I mean? A good hitter gets a hit three out of every 10 at-bats." He’s tied for fifth in appearances among Valley League relievers, but it seems like more, as he usually enters in close games, and Wells is starting to feel the wear and tear of a long season. "I’ve started getting really tired this last week," he said. "I’m not long-tossing as much so I can stay fresh on the mound." Despite the heavy burden he’s carried, however, his teammates breathe a sigh of relief when they see his diminutive frame job onto the field, no matter how often he’s worked – even if it seems like every day. "It pretty much seems like it," LeBlanc said. "He must have a rubber arm, who knows? He comes into so many ballgames and is absolutely clutch."