Turks Clinch Play-Off Berth with Win Over Wranglers

7/16/2011 – Turks Tidbits

Harrisonburg Beat Luray 8-6 Written by Nathaniel Stoltz James Madison University Harrisonburg – The Turks kicked off an eight-game home stand by clinching a playoff berth with an 8-6 victory over division rival Luray Saturday night, improving to a Valley League-best 26-9 and sending the Wranglers to 15-19.

The Turks have tended to get off to slow starts in their home games, but they had no trouble early on against Wranglers starter Javi Salas. Center fielder Jay Gonzalez (Auburn) led off with a walk in the bottom of the first before stealing second and scoring on a single from second baseman Sam Dove (Georgia Tech).

While Turks ace starter Eric Meyerchick breezed through the Luray lineup, allowing just one hit over the first four innings, Harrisonburg widened their lead in the bottom of the third. Catcher Blake Austin (Auburn) launched his second home run of the season to make it 2-0. With two outs, shortstop Robert Perucki (UTSA) doubled. A passed ball advanced Perucki to third, and after Gonzalez worked his second walk of the game, a double steal scored Perucki to put the Turks up 3-0.

The middle innings brought more success. In the fourth, left fielder Dodson McPherson (Wingate) lined his seventh home run of the season to deep right field to put Harrisonburg up 5-0. The fifth inning saw designated hitter Brock Green (Ouachita Baptist) double to left, advance to third on a passed ball, and score on an infield hit by third baseman Casey Goss (JMU).

Salas entered the game with an ERA below 2.00, but he was tagged for six runs (five earned) on eight hits and three walks in five innings, striking out five and falling to 1-2 on the season. His replacement, righthander Jake Dyer, didn’t fare any better when he came in to start the sixth. He issued a walk to Gonzalez, who immediately stole second for the third time in the game. Dove then ripped a single to left to score Gonzalez. He stole second before McPherson barely missed his second homer of the game, hitting a double high off the right field wall to score Dove and make it 8-1.

Meyerchick improved to a perfect 6-0 on the season with a seven that saw him allow just two hits, one run, and five walks while striking out four.

The Wranglers picked up five runs in the eighth off of Turks relievers Dominic Sgroi and Ryan Chapman, but Joe Charest came into a bases-loaded, no-outs jam and escaped without allowing any more runs. Pat Christensen worked a 1-2-3 ninth, with two strikeouts, for his ninth save of the season.

McPherson had a homer, double, single, and walk for Harrisonburg. Gonzalez had three walks and three steals, part of a seven-steal effort for Harrisonburg. Perucki and Dove also had two hits apiece.

It was a bittersweet victory for the Turks, however. Cleanup hitter Mac Williamson, who had been integral to the team’s success this year, left the game in the first inning after fouling a ball off his knee. He was replaced by Colby Roberts in right field. Roberts contributed with a walk and a key defensive play, throwing out a runner at home in the eighth to keep the game at 8-6. Hopefully, Williamson is able to return to the field soon.

The Turks continue their homestand tomorrow night, hosting Haymarket at 7:30 at Veterans Memorial Park.