‘Baseball Gods’ Mad?

07/03/2008 – Daily News Record

Turks Lose Yet Again Written By Mike Barber Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – Like a poker player who just lost everything when he missed a flush draw, Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease sat dejectedly at an empty card table in his office under Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night, searching for answers for his baseball team’s offensive slump. The Turks had just stranded nine runners and committed two errors in dropping a 5-1 decision to Haymarket, a team it will have to battle down the stretch for one of the final playoff spots in the Valley League. "I don’t have the answer. I really don’t," Wease said after seeing his team score four runs or fewer for the fifth straight game. "I wish I did. I don’t know what to tell you guys." Second baseman Landon Camp offered up a theory after going 0-for-3. "I don’t know what we did to make the baseball gods mad, but we must’ve done something pretty awful," Camp said. Wednesday, Haymarket’s 6-foot-7 right-hander, Chris Greiner, looked like a baseball god, allowing one run on six hits while striking out 11 in a complete-game effort. Ten of his strikeouts came in the first six innings, but Greiner (Hartford) gutted through the final three to finish off his second victory of the summer. Haymarket (10-15) staked Greiner to an early 4-0 lead. The Senators put the leadoff man on base in each of the first three innings, and each time, he came around to score. Catcher Chris Haynes singled in Nick DeRose in the first inning to put Haymarket up 1-0. Center fielder Wayne Miller led off the second with a single, then scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 2-0. In the third, Miller doubled in David Herbek, then scored on Deron Neiman’s single to put the Senators up 4-0. The Turks (9-16) had a chance to get back in the game in the seventh inning. Catcher Mike Pericht was hit a by a Greiner pitch to start the frame. Third baseman B.J. Wheeler followed with a single, giving Harrisonburg runners at first and second with no one out. But Mark Brooks flied out to right and Chris Murphy popped out to center. With two outs, Michael Precise – who nearly hit a home run in the first inning, but the home plate umpire ruled the ball had curved foul before getting to the pole – crushed a curveball back to deep left, where it was caught at the wall. "I got it just a little on the hands, just a little under it," Precise, who plays collegiately for Troy, said. "I didn’t think it was going to be good enough." His first-inning shot, however, felt like it had a chance. After the game, Precise said he didn’t see if the ball was a home run or not, though Wease stormed down the line and argued with plate umpire Mark Cline. "I didn’t get a chance to see how fair or how foul it was," Precise said, before adding, "Coach seemed to think it was fair." Wease had no doubt. "The one ball was a home run," the Turks’ always outspoken manager and owner said. "The umpire missed the call. It was out. It went around the pole." In the end, though, Wease said that call didn’t impact the outcome of the game. "We just can’t hit," Wease said, taking a break from glaring at his team’s statistics to massage his forlorn face. "I don’t understand it. You can’t win ballgames with a team batting average of .224." The top three teams in each division make the VBL playoffs, along with the next two best overall records. The Turks – losers of four of their last six games – have 19 games remaining, plenty of time to turn things around, according to Wease, Camp and Precise. "Everybody’s fighting, everybody’s trying to hit," Precise said. "Several guys have centered some balls up and they just get caught. We’ve had a stroke of bad luck." Haymarket 112 000 100 – 5 8 0 Harrisonburg 001 000 000 – 1 6 2 Greiner and Haynes; Chapman, Kennedy (4) and Pericht. W- Greiner (2-1). L- Chapman (1-1).