Turks, In A Pinch

06/29/2009 – Daily News Record

Late-Game Replacement Wins It, 5-4

Written By Dustin Dopirak Sports Desk Daily News Record

HARRISONBURG – After the second pitch Raymond Quinones saw Sunday, he rounded first base to find a mob coming after him.

The Harrisonburg Turks infielder was on the bench for all but one out of the game’s first nine innings, and at that point he came in as a pinch runner only to see the next batter, left fielder Shaun Cooper, pop up to end the frame. But two innings later, he bounced an 0-1 inside fastball into the hole between shortstop and first base to score center fielder Ryan Eden and give the Turks a 5-4, 11-inning victory over Luray in a Valley Baseball League game at Long Field.

“I’d been sitting on the bench for a while,” Quinones said. “So I figure I had to swing the bat early.”

That had been true not only in this game but in recent ones. Quinones, who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, grew up in New York City and is a rising junior at North Carolina Greensboro, had just 27 at-bats on the season going into Sunday’s game, having started just seven of the Turks 16 contests. He was hitting .222 coming into the game with more strikeouts (eight) than hits (six) in his 27 at-bats.

But Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said he likes Quinones speed, and when less-than-fleet designated hitter Mike Schwartz walked with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Quinones was a natural replacement. Cooper’s pop-up made that speed irrelevant, but Wease still thought he could be valuable at the plate.

“I was going with Quinones all the way,” Wease said. “I like him. He can run a little bit. I was hoping maybe he’d hit a groundball in the hole and maybe beat it out. Of course, he managed to get it through the hole and win the ball game for us.”

Quinones’ walk-off single was one of several clutch hits for the Turks (10-7), who once again stepped up with their backs to the wall. Pitcher Aaron Luchterhand (Redlands Community College) was strong for seven innings, allowing just five hits while striking out six, but Luray catcher Alex Haitsuka (Virginia Military Institute) had an RBI double in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the seventh to give the Wrangers (11-5) a 2-0 lead.

Schwartz finally got the Turks on the board in the bottom of the seventh, however. With the bases loaded and two outs, he saw the Wranglers change pitchers on him after the first pitch he saw, with left-hander Vance Chavis (Western Carolina) coming out for right-hander Ben Alsup (LSU), a surprising move considering Schwartz is left-handed. The rising junior from Tampa University grounded a single between first and second base to score two runs and tie the game.

Luray took the lead back in the eighth when third baseman A.J. Wirnsberger (Georgia Southern) hit a triple in the left-center field gap to score a run, then came home on an RBI single by second baseman C.J. Lauriello (Bethune-Cookman). The Turks answered, though, in the bottom of the ninth when first baseman Bobby Brown (Arizona) hit a triple of his own to score a run, then came home on a wild pitch. He likely would have been out if Luray pitcher Tyler Sanders (New Orleans) had handled the throw from Haitsuka, but it caromed off his glove and Brown scored easily.

Harrisonburg right-hander Chris Sorce (Troy) pitched three scoreless innings, keeping Luray off the board in the 10th and 11th. Eden (New Orleans) singled up the middle and moved to second base on a bunt by second baseman Thomas Nichols (Georgia Tech), then took third on a wild pitch, then came home thanks to Quinones.

Luray 000 010 120 00 – 4 9 1 Harrisonburg 000 000 202 01 – 5 13 0

Moye, Chavis (6), Alsup (7), Sanders (9), Showmar (10) and Haitsuka. Luchterhand, Riddle (8), Sorce (9) and Brunelle. W-Sorce (2-0). L-Showmar (1-1).