VBL Gets Rare Tie

07/10/2009 – Daily News Record

Written By Marcus Helton Daily News Record

HARRISONBURG – By the time Thursday’s Valley League game between Covington and Harrisonburg ended, 10 runs, 24 hits and three hours of baseball had added up to nothing substantial.

With the score knotted at 5-5 after 10 innings at James Madison University’s Long Field, home plate umpire C.R. Thompson stopped the game due to darkness.

It went into the books as a rare tie.

“[Thompson] said it was too dark,” Covington manager James Conrad said of the post-game huddle between him, Turks skipper Bob Wease and the officials. “Both the coaches were saying we’d like to play and we’d give it one more inning, but they didn’t want to give it to us.”

The game was called at 8:05 p.m. Although the sun didn’t set until 8:41 p.m. Thursday, the light was already murky by the time the game was stopped.

Thursday marked the second time the Turks – whose temporary home at JMU doesn’t have lights – have had a game stopped due to darkness. They lost to Rockbridge last week after an hour-long rain delay.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Wease said, “but we don’t have lights, and the safety of the boys is the main thing.”

Harrisonburg third baseman Thomas Nichols (Georgia Tech) said he began having trouble seeing the ball in the ninth inning, and added he feels the team often has to race to beat the darkness in the later innings of home games.

“I think so,” Nichols said, “because at this time when we’re still playing, it’s tough to see in the box, so none of the batters really want to take that risk of going up there late in the game and trying to battle the pitcher and the environment. I think as a hitter, they’d like to finish earlier.”

A night after rising up to knock off the team with the best record in the VBL with a 7-4 win at Staunton, Harrisonburg (13-14-1), fell behind early against the team with the second-worst.

The Lumberjacks (11-14-1) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but the Turks rallied to go up 2-1 in the third. Covington regained the lead at 4-2 in the fifth and went up 5-4 after eight innings, but in the ninth Harrisonburg outfielder Bobby Brown (Arizona) hit a one-out double to score Nichols with the tying run.

Neither team could pull ahead in the 10th, although Harrisonburg came close. Florida State catcher Parker Brunelle led off the home half of the 10th with a double, and the Turks eventually put runners on second and third with two outs, but Covington reliever Andre Vazquez (Florida International) struck out Jack Posey (Florida State) swinging to end the threat.

Immediately afterward, the coaches and umpires convened at the plate, and the game was ended.

Covington 010 030 100 0 – 5 14 1

Harrisonburg 000 210 011 0 – 5 10 2

Ramsey, Robinson (5), Vazquez (8) and Caron; Gonzalez, Grinder (7), Riddle (7), Lancara (10) and Stehle, Brunelle (6). HR – H: Nichols.

Marcus Helton Sports Writer Sports Department mhelton@dnronline.com 540-574-6285