Big Rebel Beats Turks

07/07/2009 – Daily News Record

Written by Marcus Helton Sports Desk

NEW MARKET – No pitcher in the Valley Baseball League looms larger on the mound than New Market’s Steve Owens, the summer circuit’s biggest player at 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds.

Monday against Harrisonburg, the University of Richmond junior showed he has the stuff to go along with that presence. Owens allowed one earned run on one hit in six innings to lead the Rebels to a 5-3 win over the Turks in a Central Division game.

“My change-up was working for me real well,” said Owens, who struck out seven while walking two. “I had a great catcher behind the plate, and he was calling good pitches. We worked well last time together, and we were able to pick up where we left off last game.”

That catcher – New York Tech senior George Carroll – also helped Owens offensively, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.

All nine starters reached base safely for New Market (12-12 overall, 5-5 in the Central Division), which scored its five runs on 10 hits.

Meanwhile, the Turks (12-13, 6-3) scored their first three runs on just one hit. The two runs they plated against Owens came on a passed ball and a wild pitch, respectively.

“It was frustrating,” Owens said, “but we had a lead so you’ve just got to keep plugging along and keep pitching to contact. That’s what it’s all about with wood bats.”

New Market manager Lucas Jones said Owens has allowed just three hits in his last 13 innings on the mound.

“He’s been spectacular for us,” Jones said. “I think that he’s starting to emerge as one of our top arms. He’s the only guy that returned from last year, and we kind of look at him as our guy going out there in big games, and tonight was a huge game.”

New Market’s Sanchez Gartman (South Carolina-Sumter) led off the second inning with a stand-up triple and scored when Maryland first baseman Zack Helgeson’s grounder went between the legs of third baseman Thomas Nichols (Georgia Tech). The Turks were able to keep a second run off the board when right fielder Bobby Brown (Arizona) threw out Helgeson at home on a laser throw to catcher Parker Brunelle (Florida State).

Harrisonburg dodged another potential score in the third, when Seth Kivett (UNC-Pembroke) was thrown out at second base and was also called for interfering with Turks shortstop Victor Croglio while breaking up an attempted double play. The call wiped away a run by Kenny Mickens (Los Angeles City), who had come home from third.

Nichols led off the fourth with a stand-up double and moved to second on a groundout by Florida State’s Jack Posey. He scored on a passed ball to tie the game.

Harrisonburg starter Ed Wakefield’s good fortune ran out in the fourth, though, as the University of Portland sophomore issued a pair of bases-loaded walks and an RBI single before being lifted in favor of Roman Lancara (Bethune-Cookman).

The Turks cut the lead to 4-2 on a wild pitch in the fifth and capitalized on a New Market error in the seventh to make it 4-3, but never got any closer.

“I wasn’t very happy with the way we started off,” Turks manager Bob Wease said. “We started off slow, we had what, one hit through six innings?”

Brian Burgess (West Alabama) allowed one hit in the ninth to pick up his sixth save for New Market.

Harrisonburg 000 110 100 – 3 5 1

New Market 010 300 10x – 5 10 2 Wakefield, Lancara (4) Riddle (7) and Brunelle, May, Stehle; Owens, Hammond (7), Roth (8), Burgess (9) and Carroll. W – Owens (4-1). L – Wakefield (0-1). S – Burges (6) Sports Department 540-574-6285