Turks Closing In On Pennant

By Peter Byrd
Special Correspondent
Daily News Record

HARRISONBURG – The first-place Harrisonburg Turks control their own destiny as the Valley Baseball League regular season comes to a close. They don’t need any extra help to win the league pennant.

But, if provided, they’ll certainly take it.

Harrisonburg (28-11) pounded out 13 hits and took advantage of five New Market errors in a 7-4 win Wednesday night in the Turks’ second-to-last home game of the regular season. Harrisonburg needs to win just two of its final three regular season games to ensure itself the top seed in next week’s playoffs.

First baseman Joe Lytle and relief pitcher Pat Herberlin were instrumental in helping the Turks claim a wire-to-wire win.

Lytle went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI’s, and Pat Herberlin got out of an eighth-inning bases-loaded jam to record a four-out save.

Harrisonburg coasted early, but the Rebels threatened late.

Trailing 7-2 in the top of the eighth, the Rebels plated two runs against Turks reliever Tanner Shelton to cut the deficit to 7-4. New Market then loaded the bases with two outs as nine-hole hitter Levi Wright came to the plate. Herbelin was inserted into the game, and quickly issued three balls to set up a 3-0 count. However, the right-hander got Wright to ground out to end the threat.”That game was getting ready to get out of hand,” Turks manager Bob Wease said. “A base hit up the gap there and we got a tie ballgame. That was big that (Herbelin) came in and got that out.”

Herbelin pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his fourth save of the season.

New Market (15-24) manager George Schaefer praised his team’s effort, but said his team’s execution in the field wasn’t sharp enough.

“Very few teams are going to be able to win a game with five errors,” Schaefer said. “We made ours in what seemed like bunches. It’s tough.”

At the plate for the Turks, it was Lytle who contributed the most. The sophomore, who plays in college for Oklahoma City at the NAIA level, had RBI singles in both the first and second innings that helped the Turks open up an early 4-0 lead.

“It makes us feel more comfortable to be aggressive at the plate,” Lytle said of playing with the lead all night.

“Ever since my dad came down a couple nights agi, he fixed something in my swing and it’s been kind of there ever since,” Lytle said. “I was standing too far open. He made me shorten up a little bit and stand a little taller.”

Wease said Lytle has been key in the Turks lineup because of his ability to make contact.

“I think he’s great because he sprays the ball,” Wease said. “He can hit the ball to left field, right field, and he can bunt. That’s big.”

After New Market got two runs back in the top of the fourth, Harrisonburg extended its lead to 7-2 with a Billings sacrifice fly and tyler Straub’s two-run double. After a dicey start to the eighth inning, Herbelin shut things down for the Turks.

“There was no quit in New Market tonight,” Wease said. “I was upset because I didn’t want them getting close. But I knew they would battle us all the way.”

New Market    000 200 220- 4 10 5
Harrisonburg 310 003 00x –  7 13 1
Terzi, Rivera (6), Lau (7), Burchell (8) and Coleman; Morton, Shelton (7), Herbelin (8) and Garcia. W-Morton (2-2). L-Terzi (0-3). Sv – Herbelin (4)