Fun Turks Beat Bandits

07/16/2011 – Daily News Record

Big Seventh Inning Lifts Turks, 4-2 Written by John Galle Daily News Record

Woodstock – Harrisonburg’s bullpen resembled a luau Friday night at Woodstock with a pair of lit tiki torches glimmering just outside the chain-linked fencing. Apparently that’s just another way the Turks are staying loose during the righrous Valley Baseball League season.

“First time, just looking to have a little bit of fun,” Turks closer Patrick Christensen said of the torches. “The gnats here have been a problem in the past, but it was more to have fun.”

Stopped by three inning-ending double plays in the first four innings, Harrisonburg’s offense finally broke out with five hits – including two bloopers – in a four-run seventh, and Christensen delivered his VBL-leading eighth save of the season as the Turks defeated Central Division foe Woodstock 4-2.

Starter Justin Van Grouw (Wake Forest) pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for first-place Harrisonburg (25-9). He allowed both runs and had eight strikeouts and three walks. But it was shortstop R.J. Perucki earning plenty of praise for the win against the River Bandits (12-21).

The 6-foot1, 180-pound sophomore out of the University of Texas-San Antonio turned a double play in the second inning, and robbed Woodstock’s Justin Seager of a would-be base hit in the ninth, with a man on and one out.

“I saw it off the bat and instantly thought base hit, you know, in the hole,” Christensen said. “And he just made a ridiculous play on it.”

Ranging to his left, Perucki lunged to glove the ball and immediately went into a 180-degree jump, launching a high but impressively accurate throw in time to first baseman Brock Green.

“That’s a highlight play,” Turks manager Bob Wease said. “A lot of guys in the Major Leagues won’t make that play.”

Green-one of the onlly Harrisonburg hitters to have early success against Woodstock starter Brian Valente – went 3-for-4 on three consecutive singles, including a leadoff hit to spark the Turks’ seventh-inning rally.

“They kept us off the scoreboard all game until we finally put some hits together in the seventh,” Green said. “That got us going a little bit, and our pitching shut the door for us.

Designated hitter Mac Williamson and left fielder Chris Marconcini followed Green with back-to-back doubles, with Williamson’s hit tying the game at 1-1. A hit batsman extended the drama for Valente, who finished with four runs allowed on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

Catcher Eric Mason added an RBI single to center field, and leadoff hitter Casey Goss scored two more on a bloop single to shallow left, as Harrisonburg sent all nine batters to the plate in the seventh inning.

“I’d love to get ahead in a ball game for a change,” Wease said. “We come back in the sixth (inning or later), but that’s the signs of a good ball club.”

And tiki torches, it seems, are signs, too.

“They’re having fun,” Wease said. “It’s summer baseball. All these guys are having fun. Hopefully, all these guys are coming back next year. I want them all back.”

Harrisonburg 000 000 400 – 4 8 2 Woodstock 001 000 100 – 2 4 0

Van Grouw, Felix (8), Christensen (9) and Mason, Valente, Williams (8) and Stewart. W – Van Grouw (4-2) L – Valente (1-4). S-Christensen (8)