By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
NEW MARKET -- The Harrisonburg Turks and New Market Rebels met in the first repeat matchup of the season for both clubs, in Valley Baseball League action Thursday night.
The Rebels won the first meeting, 3-1, in the league's season opener on June 3.
Thursday night's game was a hit parade for both teams, with a total of 31 hits, 17 for Harrisonburg and 14 for New Market, but the Turks got the win, 12-11.
It was a nice welcome for left-handed pitcher Zach Brewster, who finished his junior year at Georgia Tech, and had arrived Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in Harrisonburg. He used his sweeping curve, and moving fastball, to maximum effect in 1 2/3 innings of work in the seventh and eighth innings, after the Turks broke open a 7-7 tie with a five-run seventh inning, to become the winning pitcher.
"[The curve] seemed to be working for me, just trying to get it over [the plate], over for strikes, since we had the lead and I wanted to keep it there," Brewster said. "We had a good year at Georgia Tech, but we ended up getting beat by Alabama in the [NCAA] regionals.
"We had a lot of talent and lost a lot of guys to the draft. I was looking to come up here and get better and lead the team again next year. I played in the Cape Cod league last summer."
Harrisonburg reliever Stephen Styck worked the final 1 2/3 innings, retiring the Rebels in order in the ninth, to earn the save.
Each team used four pitchers, with the Rebels' first reliever, Brian Edelen, in relief of Jared Winder, getting tagged with his first loss (0-1).
The game was tied, 7-7, after six innings.
In the top of the seventh, Harrisonburg sent 10 batters to the plate to score five runs on four hits, two walks, and a New Market error.
The Rebels (2-7) scored two in the seventh and two in the eighth, to narrow the deficit to 12-11.
The Turk making the most of the hit fest was first baseman Patrick Savage from Auburn University (3-for-5, a double, four RBIs and a run) to improve his batting average to .344.
"I got lucky today, there was somebody out there [on the bases] all the time," Savage said. "I had some great opportunities and I was seeing the ball well."
Reuben Sosa went 3-for-6, scoring two runs, for the Turks and Shaun Cooper was 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs.
New Market's top bat was center fielder Kenny Mickens (UNC-Pembroke) who was 3-for-3, hit by a pitch, and two walks, to reach base in all six at-bats. Mickens was last year's league batting champ (.365), but had gone 0-for-6 before tonight's game.
"It felt pretty good at the plate," Mickens said. "I really wish we could have got the win. Close game. Those always hurt. I think we'll bounce back. We've got a good team. We seem to be clicking together now. One or two more games and we'll be on a roll."
Catcher Joe Maloney was 3-for-5 (double, three runs, RBI) and second baseman Jason Coker went 2-for-5 with three RBIs for New Market.
The Turks (6-5) left 13 runners on base and the Rebels stranded 12. Each team committed three errors.
"[There was no strategy in a game like this], you just go batter by batter," Turks head coach Bob Wease said. "I've been in a lot of these things, where you just can't get anybody out. Steven [Styck] came in and did a heck of job for us. He's through for a while. [Brewster's] going to be a good one for us, he really is."
"It's very rare that you score 11 runs in this league and lose," New Market head coach Corey Paluga said. "You're gonna have those games from time to time and kinda hope you can squeeze another hit through that puts you on top.
"As much as we've been consistent on the mound this year, it was kinda disappointing to see us give up a 12-spot. I don't think it's going to be a pattern. I have all the confidence in the world in our pitching staff. Like I told the guys I hope we can string another big-hit game [today] when we go to Waynesboro, instead of 14 hits one game, and three hits the next. If we can build some momentum with the bats, I think we're going to be all right."