Turks Drop Final Regular Season Game To Braves

WP: Perkins (3-1)- 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
LP: McCoy (3-1)- 6 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
S: Gould (6)- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

HARRISONBURG, Va., July 25, 2015 – With a packed house and a true playoff atmosphere at Veterans Memorial Park, the Turks dropped a close game to the Staunton Braves by a score of 6-5 on Saturday night.

Down 6-2 entering the 7th inning, the Turks knew they had to do something and to do it fast. Shane Billings singled to get things started and Steve McLean and Joe Lytle followed with back-to-back walks to load the bases. Tyler Straub continued the trend with a walk of his own to force home a run, making it 6-3. Jared Baker and Jesse Baker then hit consecutive sacrifice flies to bring the Turks within one at 6-5. Unfortunately, that scored would also be the final as the Staunton bullpen did well to protect the slim lead.

The Turks end the regular season with a 29-13 record and hold a half-game lead over the Braves who sit at 28-13. Staunton will travel to Strasburg tomorrow, July 26th, with a chance to match Harrisonburg’s final mark.

Despite a shaky start, Braves starting pitcher Jake Perkins (3-1) composed himself to scatter six hits and two runs (both earned) while striking out three over six innings. Garrett Cave was roughed up out of the bullpen for three runs (all earned) in just 1.2 innings, allowing the Turks to get back into the game. Devin Gould turned the tides though, tossing 1.1 hitless innings while earning the save.

Turks starting pitcher Tucker McCoy (3-1) also allowed only six hits in six innings of work, but the Braves got five runs (four earned) off of him. Kameron Esthay made his second appearance on the mound this season and only got through 0.1 innings while giving up a run on a hit and two walks. Patrick Herbelin replaced him and did well to give the Turks a chance with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.

The Turks were the first to strike in the 2nd thanks to an Eric Garcia RBI single followed by a grounder by Denton that gave Jesse Baker an opening to race home.

Shane Billings (1-for-3, 2 walks), Steve McLean (2-for-3, 1 walk) and Jared Baker (1-for-3, 2 walks) each reached base three times on the night to lead the Harrisonburg offense.

The 2-0 lead wouldn’t last long though, as the Braves struck back for one in the 3rd and one in the 5th to tie the game at two.

Ryan Crile (1-for-4, 2 RBI) and William & Mary’s Josh Smith (1-for-4, 3 RBI) led the charge from the other dugout.

Smith earned his three runs batted in with a 3-run home run in the top of the 6th to give the Braves their first lead of the night at 5-2. Staunton would then add an insurance run in the 7th on Ryan Szamski’s sacrifice fly that scored Crile from third.

That run would make all the difference as the Turks would come close, but ultimately fail to score the tying run in the 8th or 9th.

The Braves travel to Strasburg tomorrow night (Sunday, July 26th) with a chance to match the Turks season mark of 29-13. If they win, there will be a one game play-in game on Monday night in Staunton to determine the top seed from the South division in the Valley Baseball League playoffs.

The time and date of the beginning of the playoffs will be announced soon after. As always, GO TURKS!