Turks Battle Back Against Royals to Capture Fourth Straight Win

By Jen Kulju
Turks Staff Writer

The Harrisonburg Turks trailed 8-1 and were hitless going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but battled back to defeat the Winchester Royals 11-9 on Thursday. The Turks scored four runs in the fifth, three in the sixth, one in the seventh, and two in the eighth to capture their fourth straight win.

The Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning with a bases-loaded double by Will Welsh, which scored Chad Feeley, Jordan Huntley and Jonathan Butler, who had all singled.

The Turks took advantage of a couple of errors by shortstop James Grant at the bottom of the inning to put one run across the plate.

The Royals added four more in the second to go up 7-1. Grant, Matt Holloway and Masen Prososki singled to load the bases. Feeley followed with a double off the wall in left, scoring two. Butler then got a base hit up the middle, which scored two more.

The Royals put another run on the board in the fourth when Butler singled home Feeley, who had been hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a fielder’s choice play and to third on a balk by starting Turks pitcher Jake Brace (Georgia Tech).

Brace came out in the seventh inning, but not before giving up eight runs on 13 hits. Fortunately, the Turks’ bats got grooving against starting Royals pitcher Ruben Ramirez, who gave up seven runs on five hits before being taken out in the sixth inning.

What happened from the fifth through the eighth inning is nothing short of a miracle, as the Turks scored nine unanswered runs. In the fifth, Paul Castillo (Jacksonville University) and Grant Van Scoy (Illinois) both lined to left to start the inning. Cam Irvine (Virginia Tech) then singled to load the bases, which brought Zach Little (Wingate) to the plate. Little tripled off the wall in left to score all three base runners. Austin Embler (UNC Greesnboro) brought Little home with a sacrifice fly to left.

The Turks added three more in the sixth to tie the game 8-8. Elian Merejo (Georgia State) singled and Brett Whelton (McNeese State) walked before the Royals brought in new pitcher Kody Gerdere, who immediately gave up a walk to Castillo to load the bases. Gerdere then hit Van Scoy with a pitch, scoring Merejo. Whelton scored on fielder’s choice play. Castillo scored on a sacrifice fly by Irvine.

The Turks took the lead in the seventh on a Jack Wilson (Western Kentucky) double to right. Brycen Braswell (UNC Wilmington), who came in to run for Wilson, scored on a single by Castillo against new Royals pitcher Brian Whitacre.

The Turks added a couple of insurance runs in the eighth—and while the Royals did manage one run in the ninth, it was not enough to catch Harrisonburg.

Little led the Turks with three hits, three RBI, and three runs scored. Merejo and Castillo each had two hits and scored two runs.

Joseph Mannelly (Georgia Tech), who pitched the seventh inning, got the win. Gardere got the loss. Josh Karklin (Wingate), who pitched the ninth, got the save.

The Turks are now 18-19 and play their next game against the Charlottesville Tom Sox on Saturday at 3 pm (moved from 7 pm). The Turks are back at home next Wednesday at 7:30 pm against Charlottesville and play their final regular season game on Thursday at 7:30 pm against Covington.