Turks Lose Opener 3-1 in 11 Innings

06/03/2010 – Turks Tidbits

Written By Thomas Cromwell Boston College Intern

Forty-five feet seems like such a short distance in the grand scheme of most sports, yet proved to be the difference in between a win and a loss as the New Market Rebels defeated the Harrisonburg Turks 3-1 in eleven innings Thursday night on not only Opening Night of the 2010 Valley Baseball League Season, but also the Turks inaugural game at James Madison University’s Veterans Memorial Park (on the site of the old VET which the Turks called home for fifty years). Following a brief lightning delay, Kurt Wunderlich (Michigan State) began what appeared to be a shaky outing for the Turks on the mound, issuing lead off walks in each of the first two innings. Wunderlich eventually found his grove striking out nine and walking three while only allowing one run in six innings of work. The Turks bats came alive early as shortstop Joe Huber (St. Joe’s) led off the bottom of the first inning by hammering a double just over the outstretched arm of the New Market centerfielder. Following two consecutive outs, catcher Brett Armour (Young Harris) singled down the left field line, plating Huber and giving the Turks and 1-0 lead. That margin held until the top of the third inning when New Market centerfielder Jordan Owen (UT-Martin) crushed a ball to the warning track in straightaway center, scoring Jason Coker (UNC-Pembroke) , knotting the score at one. The next three innings became a pitching duel between as William Falasco (Richmond) matched Wunderlich’s outing with his own six inning, two hit, one run, six strike-out gem. Both teams changed pitchers in the seventh inning as Stephen Styck (St. Joe’s) took the mound for Harrisonburg, retiring the first six, and nine of the first ten batters he faced. New Market’s once again match pitching wits with the Turks by utilizing four different pitchers over the final five innings. The bottom of the ninth brought forth the evening’s greatest excitement, yet greatest heartbreak at the same time. New Market pitcher Cameron Ward issued a lead-off walk to Tyler Carpenter (UT-San Antonio). Shaun Cooper then laid town a textbook sacrifice bunt, moving Carpenter to second, placing the winning run in scoring position. With two outs the team’s local, J. J. Loker (USC-Aiken), hit a hard chopper towards the second baseman, preventing a play at first. Meanwhile, Carpenter started home, but was caught in a run-down halfway between third and home, ending the chance for a dramatic walk-off win while halting the Turks increasing momentum. The Turks did not give in however. In the bottom of the tenth, Cole Harrison (Florida) blooped a one out single over the glove of the jumping short stop. He reached second on a low pitch by Ward. Austin Erb was then issued a walk, giving the Turks first and second with one out. Second baseman Joshua Band grounded out to second, advancing the runners to second and third with two outs. Once again the Turks came up short as Joe Huber grounded out to end the inning. New Market went on to score two runs in the top of the eleventh. A back-to- back walk and hit-by-pitch issued by Stephen Styck to begin the inning set the stage for back-to-back singles by Jordan Owen and Francisco Ramirez (Rio Grande) which plated two Rebels runs that proved to be the dagger. In the bottom of the eleventh New Market once again went to the bullpen, bringing in Tony Hearrell (Mars Hill) for the three out save. In a game of missed opportunities, roster shortages, interesting weather and the beginning of a new era for Turks baseball, the New Market Rebels did just enough to squeak out a win over the Turks on Opening Night, but this isn’t a one game season and the Turks will assuredly rebound.