Turks Find Strength on the Mound

Harrisonburg, VA – Bob Gibson once said that the two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen. Without glancing at the various Facebook pages of the 2012 Turks, it’s safe to say the team is living well.

Half way through the Valley League regular season, the Harrisonburg Turks find themselves with a 14-7 record—among the best in the league—and it’s due in no small part to a stellar pitching rotation.

It all begins up front with the starters. Two Turks (Dillon Ortman and John McLeod) are tied for the league wins record with three apiece; Harrisonburg is the first and only Valley team to have 2 three-win starters, and Mike Kraft will get an opportunity to achieve his own 3-0 record Tuesday night at home against the Luray Wranglers.

But the rotation goes deeper than just three starters, and each pitcher brings something impressive to the mound. For instance, Joe Charest is proving to be a veritable strikeout artist, averaging over eight K’s a game. McLeod has thrown one of the league’s only two complete games so far thus season. Trey Gill has kept big plays at bay with remarkable consistency, allowing only three extra base hit (and no homers) all season. Alex Cruz upkeeps an unmarred 1.000 fielding percentage. Ortman’s ERA is an impressive 3.00, good for a top 20 league mark among all pitchers. Kraft seems to do nearly everything right, holding impressively competitive stats in all categories.

The scariest pitchers are yet to come though, as Harrisonburg’s true strength lies in its ability to end games. Ace closers Joseph Karr and Shawn O’Neill both hold the record of most Valley League saves thus far, each having earned four. Both have earned Southern Division Pitcher of the Week despite their relative lack of reputation as starters, though both O’Neill and Karr have each tallied a win by now.

Together, the dynamic duo has saved more than half of the Turks’ accumulated wins. O’Neill’s stats have been particularly overwhelming, notching an earned run average that consistently floats just above and below 1.00.

With all the wins the Turks are piling up this summer, you’d think some pretty solid friendships might develop.

But the strong pitching? They’ve already got that covered.