Lumberjacks Jolt Turks In Playoffs Opener

8/01/2007 – Daily News Record

Covington Beats Harrisonburg, 4-1 Written By Mike Barber Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – Two teams loaded the bases in the seventh inning. One came away with three runs, the other came up empty. And that’s why the Covington Lumberjacks are a win away from ending Harrisonburg’s season. Covington scored three runs to take a 3-1 lead in the seventh en route to a 4-1 win over the Turks in the first round of the Valley League playoffs, in what may have been the final game played at Memorial Stadium. "I’m not too worried," Harrisonburg first baseman David Dennis said. "We did the same thing with them last year. Lost the first one in a bad game. We bounced back and played two good games and beat them." Dennis (Oklahoma City University), the team’s MVP, came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. He chopped a 1-2 pitch from Covington starter Brian Bowles over the base at second. Second baseman Jason Garofalo fielded the ball and threw to first, getting the far-from-fleet-footed Dennis by about a step. "I was probably a step or two away," Dennis said. "I don’t want to make excuses but I had knee problems the last week. If I was healthy, I probably beat it out." Bowles was making his first start of the summer for Covington. Normally a long reliever, Bowles was pressed into service after a pair of pitchers left the team at the end of the season and two more weren’t ready to take the ball. Covington manager Andy Chalot wanted to start Jack Snodgrass, but Snodgrass was struck by a line drive early last week and Chalot didn’t want to rush him back. Chalot’s next choice – Tommy Warner – pitched against Front Royal on Thursday and needed another day of rest. So Bowles, a freshman at Ferrum this past year, got the call and answered in a big way. He allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings, walking three and striking out two. "He hit the strike zone," Chalot said. "He was able to go seven innings because he kept his pitch count down." And that’s why Bowles, who Chalot expected to go five innings, was still pitching in the seventh, getting into – and then out of – the game’s key jam. The Turks never threatened after that, going down in order in the eighth and ninth. Covington closer Bobby Andrews struck out the side to end the game. Unlike Bowles, Harrisonburg starter Ryan Ellison (Troy) was done in by a disastrous seventh inning. Ellison issued a four-pitch walk to Kevin Bishop, then walked in the tying run on five pitches. Ian Reinhart relieved Ellison with the bases still loaded. Covington’s Evan Noell bunted back to Reinhart who fielded the ball in his glove and tried to flip it home. But Reinhart’s hands-free toss sailed wide of the plate, allowing the runner from third to score as well as the one from second. That left Harrisonburg down 3-1. The Turks offense never got going, getting only a solo home run from nine-hole hitter Travis Peep of Arizona – his first of the season – in the third inning. The team lost leadoff hitter Jon Moore (Purdue) in the fifth inning when he was ejected from slamming his helmet after being called out at first on a close play. Moore had helped keep the Turks in the game early, robbing Covington’s Jason Kipnis of a home run to center in the first inning. It was a rough night for the Lumberjacks until the seventh. The team’s bus broke down about half-way through the trip to Harrisonburg, and they had to have vans pick them up and finish the ride. The delay pushed the 7:30 p.m. game’s start-time back to close to 8 p.m. Harrisonburg plays at Covington tonight at 7:30 p.m. in an elimination game in the best of three series. For Dennis, last year’s experience gives him confidence the Turks can still win this year’s series. Now, he said, he’s trying to impart that confidence into his teammates. "It’s as simple as telling them that this is exactly what we did last year," Dennis said. "There’s no reason to get down. If it was over after the first game, we’d just play a one game series and everyone would go home. They give us three for a reason." Turks manager Bob Wease, upset with an article in Tuesday’s Daily News-Record, refused to answer questions after the loss. Covington 000 000 310 – 4 6 0 Harrisonburg 001 000 000 – 1 7 2 Bowles, Houston (8), Andrews (9) and Noell; Ellison, Reinhart (7) and Pericht. W- Bowles. L- Ellison. S- Andrews. HR- H- Peep (1)