Turks Shut the Door On Luray’s Play Off Hopes

07/24/2011 – Turks Tidbits

Turks Outlast Luray in 13 with a 8-7 Win Written by Nathaniel Stoltz James Madison University Intern Harrisonburg – The Turks improved to 30-11 on the season and 5-2 on their eight-game homestand with a dramatic 8-7 win over the division rival Luray Wranglers. With the win, Harrisonburg is within one win of clinching the #1 playoff spot for the Valley League playoffs. Luray fell further out of the playoff picture themselves with the loss, falling to 16-25 in a game that took over four hours to play.

Luray starter Andrew Armstrong entered with probably the best pitching statistics in the Valley League, but the Turks got to him early in the ballgame. Center fielder Jay Gonzalez (Auburn) led off with a single, and shortstop R.J. Perucki (UTSA) followed with a bunt attempt. Armstrong’s throw to first base was dropped, and both runners were safe. Second baseman Sam Dove (Georgia Tech) lined a single to right to load the bases with nobody out, and a groundout from left fielder Dodson McPherson (Wingate) brought home Gonzalez for the contest’s first run. First baseman Brock Green (Ouachita Baptist) followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Turks up 2-0 in the opening frame.

Meanwhile, Turks starter Justin Van Grouw (Wake Forest) breezed through the first three innings, allowing just one hit. He got some help in the third when Green made a full-extension catch leaning into the Luray dugout and catcher Eric Mason (St. Joseph’s) caught a runner attempting to steal.

Luray managed to come back with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, as Ryan Retz had an RBI groundout and Corey Janson had an RBI single off of Van Grouw, but the Turks immediately responded in the bottom of the inning. Designated hitter Blake Austin (Auburn) walked, Mason singled, and Gonzalez ripped a two-run double down the left field line. Perucki walked, and Dove lined a single to score Gonzalez and extend the lead to three.

But Luray cut the score back to 5-4 in the top of the fifth, getting an RBI single from Orlando Olivera and an RBI groundout from Trey Blackman.

Van Grouw worked six innings in the game, allowing four runs on six hits, a walk, and three strikeouts. Armstrong allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits, three walks, and five strikeouts in five innings.

Van Grouw was relieved by Joe Charest (Fordham), who ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing a leadoff double to Pablo Bermudez and a home run to Mitchel Brennan, putting the Wranglers on top 6-5.

The Turks tied it up in the bottom of the eighth against Wranglers reliever Jake Boyd when Gonzalez ripped a single, stole second, and scored on a single from Dove. The teams traded zeroes in the ninth to send the game into extra innings knotted at six runs apiece.

However, Luray quickly broke the tie against Turks relief ace Pat Christensen (La Salle). He struck out the first two batters in the top of the tenth, but the second strikeout got away from Austin, allowing the runner to be safe at first. After a groundout put the runner in scoring position, Michael Broad grounded a single through the left side to score the go-ahead run.

The Turks refused to go away, however. With two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Perucki singled to center. With Luray one strike from victory, Dove ripped a line drive into the right field corner to score Perucki from first and tie the game back up.

Christensen, Boyd, Turks reliever Dominic Sgroi (La Salle), and Wranglers reliever Jake Dyer put up zeroes in the eleventh, twelfth, and top of the thirteenth, but McPherson led off the bottom of the thirteenth with a fly ball that fell in front of Brennan and skipped past him for a double. After an intentional walk to Green and a Marconcini flyout, Austin ripped a single through the middle to score McPherson and end the ballgame.

Sgroi improved to 5-0 on the season with the win, while Dyer fell to 1-4.

Gonzalez led the Turks with four hits, and Dove had three. Austin contributed three walks in the game along with the game-winning hit. McPherson had two hits and two walks.

Harrisonburg concludes their eight-game homestand tomorrow night against another Central Division rival, the Woodstock River Bandits, before concluding the regular season with a two-game road trip.