By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- June in the Valley League is a learning experience that will hopefully pay dividends in July, and that was surely the case in Sunday's marathon 13-inning game between Winchester and Harrisonburg.
What both teams learned was that Turk pitcher Terrance Jackson was a force to be reckoned with on the mound. The Oklahoma City junior, who started in right field, relieved Aaron Luchterhand in about the worst situation imaginable.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth, and the game tied 4-4, Jackson faced an almost impossible position.
"That's the first time that he's pitched this year," Harrisonburg manager Bob Weese said. "He came up to me in the ninth and asked me to give him the ball. He told me that if I gave him the ball he'd get us out of here, and that's exactly what he did."
Jackson responded by getting three straight Royals out, and held them at bay for four more innings to help Harrisonburg pull off a stunning 5-4 win in 13 innings.
"I just came in and threw strikes and tried to give my defense a chance," Jackson said. "Once I got that first guy out, I knew that I was in a zone. My curveball and my change-up were working, and once that happens guys start swinging at balls that aren't strikes. I took advantage of that."
During his five innings on the mound he struck out nine Winchester batters, including five in a row, and allowed just one Royals base runner.
"At Oklahoma City he won eight games as a pitcher, hit 10 home runs, hit .370, and he stole over 20 bases," Weese said. "He can do it all."
The Turks finally got Jackson his winning run in the top of the 13th when Joe Huber scored on a passed ball by Winchester reliever Stephen Cook's first pitch.
Up until Jackson's appearance, the game was a see-saw battle that seemed to favor the Royals. Although the Royals never led, they came close to blowing the game open on several occasions. Winchester left 12 runners on base. They also had the bases loaded twice and only managed one run.
"We certainly had plenty of opportunities," Royals manager John Lowery Sr. said. "We ran ourselves out of several innings. We had the bases loaded in the first inning and only came away with one run."
Daniel Scheffler's solo home run in the eighth tied the score at 4-4 and also gave the Royals what looked like the momentum they needed to finish off the Turks.
"I got a good count at 3 and 1," Scheffler said. I got a good fastball, and the ball really carried. But it's really disappointing to play 13 innings and not come away with a win. But their pitcher just shut down everybody."
Things looked even bleaker for the Turks in the bottom of the ninth when Winchester put its first three batters on base. Then Jackson went to the mound.
"You couldn't ask for a better scenario than the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and your two, three, and four hitters coming up," Lowery said. "We just couldn't get a ball in play. Jackson just did a heck of job on the mound though."
Kyle Clark had a solid night as Winchester's starting pitcher, allowing three runs on seven hits. The Michigan freshman struck out nine and walked just one Turks batter through six innings.