7/26/2006 – Daily News Record
Daily News Record Written By Robert Stocks Harrisonburg beat Winchester 8-6 in the VBL on Tuesday. WINCHESTER — Teams usually never look ahead, but on the eve of the Valley League playoffs there was no doubt Harrisonburg was already looking past Tuesday night’s regular-season finale with Winchester. Both the Turks and Royals, having already clinched playoff berths, saved their pitching in Tuesday night’s game that was only significant for Winchester. Reliever Randy Buffington made his first start for the Royals and Harrisonburg’s pitchers looked more like infielders — and that’s because they actually were. Harrisonburg’s David Dennis, who started the game at first base, picked up the win in relief and Jonathan Vallen worked the final two innings for the save as the Turks rallied for an 8-6 victory over Winchester at Bridgeforth Field. Brandon Harrigan went 3-for-5 and scored twice and Ryan Rachal went 2-for-5 with two RBIs for the Turks, who host Covington in the first round, best-of-three Southern Division playoffs tonight at 7:30. The Turks (25-18) already had second place in the Southern Division locked up prior to Tuesday night’s game, but the loss was a costly one for Winchester. The Royals (21-21) would have locked up second place and home-field advantage with a victory, but now they must travel as the No. 4 seed to face first-place New Market in the first round of the best-of-three Northern Division playoffs tonight at 7:30. Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said he didn’t want to use any of his pitchers, but had to go with Vallen in the final two innings. "We started our left fielder, who hasn’t pitched in forever — he never has pitched and then we brought in [Dennis], who is not a pitcher," Wease said. The Royals held a 5-3 lead through seven innings and were just six outs away from locking up second place in the division, but the Turks batted around in the top of the eighth. Harrisonburg’s Anthony Soto walked and later scored after an error by Winchester on Harrigan’s single to center. Kyle Spraker followed with an RBI double off Winchester reliever Brian Alas. Spraker and Josh Richardson, who reached on an infield single, both scored after a wild pitch and a passed ball to extend the Turks’ lead to 8-5. The Royals threatened in the bottom half of the eighth. Ryan Castellanos led off the inning with a double and Ryan Jenkins, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI, followed with a single to put runners on first and third. An out later, Victor Croglio’s sacrifice fly scored Castellanos to cut Harrisonburg’s lead to 8-6. Vallen worked his way out of the inning, however, getting Patrick Wingfield to fly out to end a controversial eighth inning that saw Winchester manager Kevin Anderson get ejected by home plate umpire Chris Vail. Anderson protested a no-call on what he felt was a balk by Vallen when the Royals had a runner on third. A balk was called on Winchester reliever Josh Verts in the seventh inning.