06/15/2010 – Daily News Record
New Players Already Make Their Presence Felt By Mike Barber Daily News Record HARRISONBURG – Maybe rest is overrated.
Terrance Jackson and Scott Dalrymple made the 19-hour trek from Oklahoma City to Harrisonburg, arriving late in the night on Thursday. Friday, they went a combined 4-for-9 to key a 5-1 win that snapped the Turks’ three-game losing streak.
Connor Winn got up at 6 a.m. Saturday, drove seven hours from Atlanta to Harrisonburg, and went 3-for-5 in his Valley League baseball debut.
Reuben Sosa flew to Dulles International Airport from Boston on Saturday, and got to Eagle Field just in time to take a little batting practice. Then, he drove in two runs to tie the game in the eighth inning – a game Harrisonburg won 7-6.
And while none of the newest four Turks want to make long travel and little sleep their formula for baseball success the rest of the summer, their arrival appears to have sparked a team that struggled through the first week of play.
“It seems like I can see something special,” said Sosa, the team’s speedy new leadoff hitter and center fielder from Lawrence, Mass., and Western Oklahoma University. “We’ve come together and played well together. I think we have a good shot to win a lot of games.”
After a sluggish 1-4 start, Harrisonburg has pulled itself into the middle of the VBL pack, winning three straight to get back to .500. Tonight, it plays at Luray – also winners of three in a row.
“Our team chemistry, we’re really starting to bond and play well together,” said Jackson, who plays right field when he isn’t pitching. “You definitely can get hot. It’s just a matter of whether we’re on the same page day in and day out.”
Developing chemistry can be an interesting challenge in summer leagues – where players from many colleges come together for one, short season. (The Turks play a 44-game regular season.)
Some players, though, already know each other.
Jackson and Dalrymple, teammates at Oklahoma City University, made the long drive to Harrisonburg together on Thursday – sort of. Dalrymple is from Portland, Ore., and with no time between the end of his college season and the start of the Valley League slate, he had to lug all his possessions with him from school to Virginia.
And that meant both he and Jackson had to drive their own cars.
“We just had too much stuff,” Dalrymple said with a laugh. “I didn’t know where I was going to put most of my stuff from my room at school. So I ended up packing my car full of all my stuff.”
The two talked on the phone and texted each other to stay awake. They even pulled over in the parking lot of a Memphis police station to take a nap, Dalrymple said.
Winn, who plays for Georgia Tech, had no such company for his trek from Atlanta.
Before he left, Winn’s mother made him breakfast (an egg sandwich and an energy drink). To keep occupied in the car, Winn listened to a book on tape. His selection? “Born To Run,” a book chronicling the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, a tribe renowned for its distance running ability.
Once they all got to their summer home, they set about transforming the Harrisonburg’s lineup.
None of the Turks who have played at least six games is hitting over .300. They were outscored 22-8 in their first four losses.
All four of the new arrivals are hitting over .400. No one has been hotter than Winn, who is 6-for-10 with three hits in each of his first two games.
And the Turks aren’t complete yet.
Owner and manager Bob Wease said Arizona outfielder Bobby Brown – who played for the club last summer – is expected to arrive today.
Later Monday evening, Wease was hoping to find out if Winn’s teammate, third baseman Thomas Nichols, would be joining the Turks or going to play professionally. Nichols was drafted in the 15th round by the Los Angeles Angels.
Winn said he spoke to Nichols over the weekend and expects Nichols to sign and play in the minor leagues.
Wease is also hoping to add a third Georgia Tech player – left-handed reliever Zach Brewster. Brewster is hoping to sign with a Cape Cod League team, where he pitched last summer, Winn said. If he doesn’t find a roster spot there, Winn said Brewster will join the Turks.
Wease is also hoping Arizona closer Nick Cunningham joins his team.
“I feel very good about this club,” Wease said.
Terrance Jackson (left), Scott Dalrymple and Reuben Sosa joke around at Eagle Field on Monday. All are recent arrivals from Oklahoma universities. Photo by Traci White