‘DUB’ Thinks Big

07/28/2011 – Daily News Record

And He’s Also A ‘Dream-Teamer’

Written by John Galle Daily News Record

Harrisonburg – After Valley League games, one Turks baseball player engages in “music-off”, singing and dancing against a team-mate in what started as a technological competition of dueling computer speakers in his Pheasant Run apartment.

Believe it or not, that player is Sam – an introverted junior outfielder from Georgia Tech who is working toward making a transition back to the middle infield next spring.

“Everywhere, he’s quiet,” Turks skipper and owner Bob Wease said. “But when he opens up, he’s a funny guy. He’s my kind of ball player. He’s quiet, he doesn’t chirp in the dugout..he gets the job done and his demeanor never changes, which is good.”

Quietly, Dove is hitting .357 – ranked sixth in the league – and made the All-Star team while playing second base and outfield this summer for the top-seeded Turks (32-11), who rose to No. 4 on Tuesday in the National Collegiate Summer Baseball rankings by PerfectGame.org.

“I’ve always kind of been withdrawn – not in a bad way,” said Dove, who was recently named the Player of the Week in the Central Division as Harrisonburg has won eigt of its last 10. “I’m not necessarily intimidated or shy.”

As a polymer-fiber engineering major, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Nolensville, Tenn., native is used to being the odd man out among teammates.

“To be honest, I’m kind of a nerd in the baseball community,” said Dove, who hopes to one day develop cutting-edge performance sports apparel and equipment for a company like Nike. “At school, I’m an engineering major, which is rare.”

The main reason for his even-keel, soft-spoken demeanor?

“I guess I’ve always respected people who lead with actions,” Dove said. “The guys that run their mouth all the time usually can’t back it up.”

Besides the occasional jam sessions with roommate Blake Austin – a catcher from Auburn, who is basically Abbott to Dove’s Costello – Dove is certainly content as a loner. He’s even taken up fly-fishing as a hobby this summer, frequenting Beaver Creek in Rockingham County early in the morning on his own while his fellow Turks sleep in on Mondays, their usual off-day.

For that, they call him crazy.

For his rugged blond hair, Wease calls him “Sunshine” after the California football player in the movie “Remember the Titans.” For his penchant for hitting doubles – he’s third in the VBL with 14 of them – Jay Gonzalez calls him “Dubs.”

Back at school, his nickname is simply “Dovey.”

If someone wrote a comic book about this year’s Turks team, Dove would certainly be one of four superheroes known as the “Dream Team,” the self-approved nickname of Harrisonburg’s four hitters at the top of the lineup: Gonzalez, Dove, Dodson McPherson and Mac Williamson.

Entering Wednesday night’s regular-season finale at Luray, Gonzalez is just four points shy of Dove’s batting average (.353, seventh in the VBL) and leads the league in steals (30). McPherson is hitting .339 with a league-high 40 RBIs, 15 doubles (second in the VBL) an seven home runs, and Williamson is tied for the league lead with 10 homers while hitting .381 (second in the VBL).

“We were just kinda joking around in the middle of a game. We all went off,” Gonzalez said of a midseason contest in which all four had multi-hit performances and gaudy stats. “…We’re the tone-setter. We were just joking around that we were the dream team, and it stuck.”

Playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a college baseball powerhouse. Dove hit a respectable .310 for the Yellow Jackets , taking on premier pitchers like Virginia’s Danny Hultzen and Georgia Tech teammate Jed Bradley (intrasquad) – who were both selected in the top 15 of the Major League Baseball draft.

“It’s kind of hard to compare just because the ACC is such a big conference, but the Valley League pitching has been good,” said Dove, who played for the Nashville Outlaws in the Prospect League last summer. “…There’s some good arms in the (VBL). It’s still challenging.

Dove’s beloved Klipsch speakers versus Austin’s recently purchased Altec Lansing Octane 7 speakers, on the other hand, is no challenge at all – at least in is mind.

“Blake researched it and got ones to be better than mine,” said Dove, who plays teammate Niko Spezial’s walk0out techno song, “See Bromance,” almost every night. “…My speakers are better. thought.”