Turks Mesh Well

06/27/2011 – Daily News Record

Written by Matthew Stoss Sports Department, Daily News Record

NEW MARKET – Assembling a college summer league baseball team is an inexact science. You throw 25 to 30 guys who don’t know each other on a roster and hope for chemistry.

“You don’t know what these guys are like, whether they’re from Arizona or New York. It’s just hard to look into their minds before you’ve seen them and know what they’re like,” said Bob Wease, the longtime owner/manager of the Valley League’s Harrisonburg Turks.

This season, Wease and the Turks appear to have found a good mix.

“Everyone here is really getting along,” Wease said Sunday during a rain delay in the Turks’ road game against New Market. “And I think that’s going to take to us a long way.”

It has so far.

The Turks (15-4) have the best record in the Valley League and a four-game lead in the VBL’s Central division entering Sunday’s games. They also were ranked in 10th in PerfectGame.org’s June 22 summer collegiate league Top 25. The Front Royal Cardinals (22nd) are the only other ranked VBL team.

Harrisonburg – which had won eight of its last 10 games going into Sunday’s contest – is second in the Valley in team batting (.287 average) and second in team pitching (3.05 ERA). Individually, the Turks’ Sam Dove (Georgia Tech) is third in the league in batting (.385) and Aaron Luchterhand (Redlands Community College) leads the VBL with a 0.69 ERA in 26 innings.

But that’s not it. The Turks dominate every individual offensive category.

Dodson McPherson (Wingate) is first in home runs (six), runs (21), RBIs (26) and total bases (57), second in hits (28), and fourth in doubles (seven).

“I think we’ve really meshed as a team,” said Mac Williamson (Wake Forest), who is second in the VBL with five home runs and fifth in batting with a .371 average. “We’re a pretty close group of a guys. We come out here and we don’t put too much pressure on ourselves. Our pitchers throw strikes and our position guys make the plays that they need to make. They get the job done, and we come in here and have great team at-bats all the way down the order.”

But those gaudy stats seem to start with chemistry. How quickly a summer league team meshes can dictate the whole the season, which is just 44 games. The Turks meshed early and, not surprisingly, got off to a quick start.

Luchterhand said this season’s chemistry is better than last year’s when the Turks were crushed by injuries and late-season player defections.

“This is definitely up there,” said Luchterhand, a native of Brisbane, Australia, who played for Harrisonburg last year, too. “The team chemistry is good – it’s better than last year; that’s for sure.”

Apparently that’s a rare.

“That’s one thing that you usually don’t find in summer league,” Wease said. “You usually got a couple guys that don’t get along – jealous because others are playing. But it’s not like that. I have 15 position players and all of them get along – all of them are basically just as good as the guy starting, and I think that’s the key.”

Williamson, who is playing in a summer league for the first time, said he was apprehensive about coming to the VBL for chemistry reasons but that apprehension is apparently no more.

“It was a concern for me,” said the 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior, who is one of three Wake Forest players on the Turks’ roster. “I came up with a couple of my teammates, so it was a little easier for me. … You never know what kind of situation you’re going to throw yourself into. You’ve got 25-30 guys from different backgrounds and almost completely different schools. You don’t know how you’re going to mesh, but like I said, we’ve all just really meshed well together and we’ve played as a team when we’re out there.”