Turks Finding Ways To Win Tight Games

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Noah Fleischman
Daily-News Record

Late innings have been filled with both joy and heartbreak to start the season for the Harrisonburg Turks.

The Turks kicked off the season with a walk-off win over the Charlottesville Tom Sox, which was a preview for the team’s first 10 games Of those contests, eight of them were decided by one run, and all were decided in the final inning. 

Harrisonburg has been clutch in the close games, carrying a 6-3 record in the tight situations into Tuesday night’s contest against the Covington Lumberjacks.

“The tight games are, of course, nerve-racking,” Turks outfielder Jaylon Lee said. “When it comes down to that, one pitch changes the game for everything. To be honest with you, it’s been fun.”

Harrisonburg carried a four-run lead into the bottom of the ninth at Waynesboro on June 5, but gave up five runs, including a walk-off grand slam to drop their first game of the summer campaign.

“We have chances in the game, we don’t capitalize,” Turks infielder Seaver King said. “Our pitching staff, luckily, has kept us in all these games to where we have a chance to come back and win. I trust our offense in every game to break through somehow.”

The Turks have seen other teams come from behind to win, but they’ve also weathered the storm in late innings, pulling out a win.

After the Lumberjacks scored three unanswered runs to beat the Turks at Veterans Memorial Park on June 5, Harrisonburg returned the favor four days later in that contest, the Turks trailed by six runs before exploding to tie the game in the seventh inning, winning in the 11th.

“Just the fun behind it, the excitement of knowing we need to make this play or if I get this hit, this game’s over with,” Lee said. “It’s more of a feed good pressure.”

The pressure isn’t something that the Turks are afraid of, rather they’ve embraced it.

“Not a lot of peopple in this league or the Cape are going to take pressure and run from it,” Lee said. “It’s more of a competitive thing when it comes to all of the guys that we’ve got here. That’s what makes it even more fun, everybody’s a go-getter.”

Though the games have been tight, King focused on being efficient on defense.

“In the box, obviously there’s a little more pressure,” King said. “In the field, I’m trying to do my job and cut down outs. Getting as many outs as quick as possible and if you do that, you’re probably going to win the game.”

The Turks late-game heroics and clean sheet in most of the late innings that they’ve needed a zero posted to the scoreboard have propelled them to second place in the Valley Baseball League’s Southern Division with a 9-6 record, a half-game back from the Tom Sox.

For Lee, the tight games have kept him engaged late in games, rather than coasting through a blowout. It’s provided a chance to compete and one swing can change the outcome.

“Those tight games make it really fun,” Lee said, “and they make you stay locked in, too.”