06/24/2009 – Winchester Star
Written By David Selig The Winchester Star www.winchesterstar.com
Winchester – The Winchester Royals’ game against Harrisonburg Tuesday night could be described as a comedy of errors.
And somehow the Royals were able to end the night laughing about it.
Winchester committed five of the game’s 11 errors – including three on one play – but survived to win 7-4 before 338 at Bridgeforth Field.
Winchester’s Kevin Garcia steals second base during the first inning of the Royals’ 7-4 win over Thomas Nichols and Harrisonburg. (Photo by Rick Foster)
“I hate to say it, but maybe in a high school game I’ve seen errors like that made,” Royals manager John Lowery Jr. said with a chuckle. “But you know what? We fought through some adversity there, which is a good sign for our team.”
The game almost got out of hand for Winchester (5-8) in the top of the sixth. Harrisonburg (6-6) had runners on first and second with one out, when Royals reliever Matt Brazis stepped off the mound and had Shaun Cooper caught between second and third.
Brazis chased Cooper back toward second, but his toss to shortstop Gabriel Ortiz was too high and sailed into center field.
The return throw from the outfield then got away and, seeing that, Cooper broke for the plate.
Catcher Tyler Jones couldn’t handle the throw home, and on the third error of the play Cooper scored to tie the game 3-3.
Mike Schwartz, who went from first to third during the course of the melee, scored on a Parker Brunelle infield single with two outs to give the Turks the lead.
“I held the ball way too long,” Brazis said of his initial error. “I’m supposed to give the ball up way before I did, but I threw the ball too high to Gabe and everything just broke loose after that. Everyone was just running everywhere.
“You just have to bear down in that situation. Having the play be my fault, I knew it was up to me to make up for it and get the next guy.”
Brazis (1-0) struck out Garrett May to end the inning and went on to pitch 31/3 innings of two-hit, scoreless relief with seven strikeouts. (The two runs in the sixth were charged to Paul Chenoweth, who walked both Cooper and Schwartz.)
With Brazis shutting down Harrisonburg in the late innings, the Royals began to benefit from blunders.
Jones led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. He scored on a broken-bat RBI single from Ortiz, who got into scoring position when Harrisonburg right fielder Nathan Weglarz made an errant throw home.
With two outs, Brad Zapenas singled to knock in Ortiz and put Winchester back ahead 5-4.
“Just put the ball in play and you just never know what’s going to happen,” Lowery said.
That proved true again in the bottom of the seventh, when Kevin Garcia hit what looked to be an inning-ending double-play ball that Harrisonburg shortstop Victor Croglio – a defensive replacement that inning – couldn’t handle.
Later in the inning, Garcia broke for second on a pitch in the dirt, but the runner on second base, Dave Fallon, didn’t seem intent on moving up a base.
Noticing Garcia racing his way, Fallon took off late for third, where he would have been out if not for a high throw from the catcher Brunelle.
Fallon came home as the ball sailed into left field to make the score 7-4.
Of the 11 runs in the game, only four were earned. Joey Munoz (0-2) took the loss, allowing four runs (one earned) in 11/3 innings of relief.
Lefty Nate Bayuk relieved Brazis to get the final out and his second save.
With the win, Winchester has swept the two-game season-series against Harrisonburg, one of only two teams the Royals have beaten thus far. (They’re 3-0 against division foe Fauquier.)
Winchester looks for its first three-game winning streak of the season when Front Royal makes its third trip to Bridgeforth tonight.
“If we can battle back to .500 by the halfway point, we’ll put ourselves in a position to be in the playoffs, if not make a run at a title,” Lowery said. “You look around the league and there are a lot of records packed up together.”
But will his defense be a concern?
Struggling to keep a straight face, Lowery said he didn’t think so.
“We made three errors on one play,” he said, breaking into a smile again. “So, beyond that we played relatively well defensively.”
– Contact David Selig at firstname.lastname@example.org