Jacks Erase Turks, 4-1

8/02/2007 – Daily News Record

Harrisonburg’s Bats Stay Cold Written By Matthew Stoss Daily News Record COVINGTON – Usually Garrett Parker finds himself walking to the mound somewhere in the eighth or ninth inning charged with preserving a fragile lead. Wednesday, the right-hander, who will play at Oklahoma City next season, took that walk early. With no outs and runners on first and second in Game 2 of a three-game Valley League Baseball playoff quarterfinal series against the Covington Lumberjacks, the Harrisonburg Turks’ closer came on in the bottom of the sixth and held a one-run lead with two strikeouts and a groundout. "Garrett’s been lights out all year," Harrisonburg starting pitcher Tim Wheeler (Troy) said, "and in that situation, you’ve got to do what’s best for the team." This time, the lead was too fragile. Parker, who came into the game with a 0.00 ERA, allowed four runs, two earned, in the seventh to give Covington a 4-1 lead and – win – to eliminate the second-seeded Turks from the playoffs at Casey Field. "I had a little bit of warning," Parker said of about his early entrance. "I expected to go into the game, but it was weird going in, in the sixth inning." In the seventh, Parker allowed a single, walk and a hit a batter to load the bases for Covington’s Stephen Cardullo, who singled to left, scoring two. When Cardullo tried to steal second, Turks catcher Mike Pericht (Saint Joseph) bounced the ball into the outfield. The throwing error plated Covington’s Kevin Thulin from third. Cardullo scored on the same play after Harrisonburg center fielder Jon Moore (Purdue) over threw third base. "We played eight great innings," Turks first baseman David Dennis (Oklahoma City University) said, "but it takes nine to win." Harrisonburg scored its only run of the game in the top of the sixth inning when Moore singled and scored on wild pitch. The Turks left five runners on base and had six hits; they just failed to come at significant times. The Lumberjacks had nine hits – seven of which came off Wheeler, who pitched five scoreless innings and struck out four – and left 10 on base. "Both teams failed to execute," Dennis said. "I guess you could say they just failed to execute less." Harrisonburg got a runner passed second base only once, and it was when Moore scored its lone run, but after Parker’s sixth inning, the one run looked like it might be enough. Parker struck out two then issued a walk to load the bases before inducing a check-swing groundout to end the inning. In the seventh, he left the two pitches hit for singles up in the strike zone. And despite his ardent intention, said he couldn’t keep his mind clear. "I tried to not think, but it seemed like a lot of stuff was running through my head," said Parker, who pitched three innings of relief, striking out five and allowing two hits. Harrisonburg took a mild stab at a rally in the ninth when B.J. Wheeler (Oklahoma State) walked to lead off the inning. Covington, however, quelled it quickly. Ryan Wood (East Carolina) and Robert Taylor (Arkansas-Little Rock), who didn’t start because of a sprained ankle, both struck out. Wheeler was caught trying to steal second after Taylor went down swinging to end the inning and the Turks’ season. But Dennis, who is out of eligibility after two seasons with Harrisonburg, prophesized a pleasant future. "The Turks will rise again," he said. "Like the Phoenix." Harrisonburg 000 001 000 – 1 6 2 Covington 000 000 40x – 4 9 0 Wheeler, Parker (6) and Murphy, Pericht; Warner, Hurst (8), Ellison (8) and Dombrowski. W – Warner (5-1). L – Parker (2-1). S – Ellison (4). HR – none.