Beanball Sparks Turks

7/06/2007 – Daily News Record

Written By Marcus Helton Daily News Record HARRISONBURG — By all accounts, B.J. Wheeler is a pretty laid-back kind of guy. However, after the Harrisonburg Turks’ third baseman was hit by a pitch Friday – suspiciously, right after the Haymarket Senators took offense to a collision at the plate – he wasn’t going to just sit there and take it. Haymarket pitcher Brandon Graves’ sixth-inning beanball – and the bench-clearing verbal altercation that ensued – energized a listless Harrisonburg offense, as the Turks exploded for six runs to overcome a 4-0 deficit en route to a 7-5 win. "Haymarket had us," Turks manager Bob Wease said. "They had us in the well. Then when they throw at B.J. there, and it just lit a spark." The Turks (18-7) remained 1½ games behind first-place Waynesboro heading into their showdown today with a chance to whittle that deficit before Sunday’s All-Star Game. The last-place Senators (7-20) didn’t make Friday’s win easy, though, taking a 4-0 lead after three innings against Harrisonburg starter Ty Pryor (North Florida), who wasn’t helped by his team’s two errors. Turks reliever Jim Kennedy (Rider) started the fourth and held the Senators in check, allowing just one run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. The Turks finally made their move in the sixth, putting runners on the corners with no outs. With the Oklahoma State-bound Wheeler on deck, Robert Taylor (Arkansas-Little Rock) hit a short hopper to Haymarket third baseman Steven Karwatt (Mercer), who threw home to keep Arizona’s Travis Peep from scoring. Peep bowled over catcher Ryan Reed at the plate, angering the Haymarket players and coaches. "They thought Travis should have slid," Wease said, "which he probably should have, but he didn’t. Then of course, they threw at B.J." Both dugouts emptied as Wheeler stepped towards Graves, though no physical altercation occurred. Karwatt and Haymarket manager Brian Midkiff were eventually ejected, and the Turks began rolling, plating six runs on four hits and two errors. "Oh, it was crazy," said Harrisonburg right fielder Alex Lyons (Taft), whose two-run single tied the game at 4-4. "B.J. gets hit and stuff happens, and it kind of lit a spark with the team. We rallied together and kept focus, and played a good inning." In the seventh, Wheeler added a measure of payback, hitting his team-leading fifth homer of the season off reliever Neil Malpass (Florida State). "I’m proud of the team," Wease said. "They bounced back and they played the last three or four innings like we’re supposed to play nine. We were just absolutely flat [early on]." Haymarket 130 000 010 — 5 9 3 Harrisonburg 000 006 00x — 7 8 2 Graves, Malpass (6) and Reed. Pryor, Kennedy (4), Josh Moore (8), Parker (9) and Taylor. W- Kennedy (4-1). L- Graves (1-6). HR – S: Parker (3). HR: Hay.- Garidel (3). Har.- Wheeler (5).