Turks’ Season Ends 3-2

By Nick Sunderland
Daily News-Record

HARRISONBURG – Bob Wease is as passionate as can be when it comes to baseball, and the Harrisonburg Turks’ longtime manager absolutely hates losing.

Choked up and with tears in his eyes, Wease – a Valley Baseball League fixture – stood speechless near the home dugout at Veterans Memorial Park following the Turks’ 3-2 season ending loss Friday night to the Waynesboro Generals.

Then, one by one, Harrisonburg’s players came by to exchange hugs with Wease and individually thank him for his time and efforts  this summer.

Though the Turks had again failed to advance in the VBL playoffs – Waynesboro won the series, 2-1, as Harrisonburg was eliminated in the first round for a third straight year – the moment was a brief reminder of what keeps the 71 year old Wease coming back to coach season after season.

“That’s the only reason I do it, you know?” an emotional Wease said in reference to the new relationships he builds each season. The 14th year manager then paused for a moment to compose himself. “I probably won’t see a lot of these guys again. But that’s what summer ball’s about. Some of ’em will go on to play pro baseball, and some of ’em will go on to teach, coach, whatever. That’s just the way it is.”

Harrisonburg (30-15) rallied to within 3-2 in the seventh and loaded the bases in the eighth, but Norfolk State  right-hander Alex Mauricio recorded back-to-back swinging strikeouts of Missouri Baptist catcher Erik Garcia and Baylor left-fielder Kameron Esthay to end the threat.

Stetson right-hander Frankie Romano then came on to pitch a scoreless 1-2-3 ninth for Waynesboro, recording his second save in as many nights to help the two-time defending Valley League champions advance to theSouth Division finals.

The Generals (24-21) built a 3-0 lead through the game’s opening four innings, working James Madison left-hander Tucker McCoy – Harrisonburg’s starting pitcher – for nine hits.

Meanwhile, Waynesboro starter Matt Horkey’s opening six innings of work were scoreless ones – he finished with 6 2/3 innings of eight-hit, two-run ball.

Against the North Carolina-Charlotte left-hander, Harrisonburg didn’t advance a runner past second base until Esthay blasted a two-out solo home run over the right-field wall in the seventh.

Two at-batslater, following a single by North Carolina-Greensboro shortstop Shelton, Wingate University’s Shane Billings sliced a scoring triple into the right-field corner to pull the Turks within 3-2.

But Mauricio kept Waynesboro’s lead intact when he came on to strike out Baylor second baseman Steven McLean, stranding Billings – who represented Harrisonburg’s tying run – at third.

The right-hander again turned to his fastball to escape trouble in the eighth.

“The last few at-bats, it was a little bit nerve-wracking,” Mauricio said. “But you’ve got to power through it. And I think I did a good job of handling the situation and getting the outs I needed. I came out on the upside this time, but that doesn’t always happen in baseball. And I’m glad it happened today.”

It was the second straight night Harrisonburg rallied late but ultimately fell short.

Now the Turks’ season – one that featured a run of 15 wins over 16 games in the regular season – is over.

“I’m frustrated. I mean, do you feel my pain?” Wease said. “You can put in the headline, “Do you feel my pain?” I mean, we had this game won in the eighth inning.”

Waynesboro   000 120 000 – 3  10  0
Harrisonburg 000 000 200 – 2  11  3

Horkey, Mauricio (7), Romano (9) and Hale; McCoy, Datoc (6), Brown (9), and Garcia.  W – Horkey. L – McCoy. SV – Romano, HR – Harrisonburg; Esthay.