Quick start sends Turks past Rebels
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
NEW MARKET — Harrisonburg’s bats were alive and kicking on Monday night at Rebel Park.
The Turks pounded out 14 hits, and scored eight runs in the first two innings en route to an 11-5 victory over New Market in Valley Baseball League action.
“Everything we hit just seemed to fall in tonight,” Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said. “It was just one of those nights.”
The Turks sent nine players to the plate in the top of the first. Harrisonburg’s Andy Perez doubled with one out to get things started. Eric Kalbfleisch followed with a single off New Market starter Cory Rhodes.
Mike Warren had an RBI single, and Robert Perucki followed a single to load the bases. Kalbfleisch scored on a fielder’s choice hit by Thomas Smith. Jace Whitley drew a walk, and Joshua Clark’s three-run triple gave the Turks a 5-0 lead.
The Turks (7-5) added three more in the top of the second. Jon Welborn reached on an error. A single and an error off the bat of Perez scored Welborn. Kalbfleisch followed with a single and Mike Warren was hit by a pitch to load the bases. One out later, Smith hit into a fielder’s choice, which scored Perez. Kalbfleisch would later steal home for an 8-0 lead, while Warren was being caught in a rundown for the final out of the inning.
The Rebels (7-6) bounced back in the bottom of the second. Derek Peterson and Landon Prentiss each drew a walk from Harrisonburg starter Garrett Ford. One out later, Tyler Long’s bunt single loaded the bases. Nick Lustrino’s two-out, two-run double then cut the lead to 8-2.
In the bottom of the third, the Rebels added another run. Peterson drew a two-out walk and Prentiss followed with a single. Ryan Messina reached on an error, scoring Peterson to cut the lead to 8-3.
The Rebels finished with nine hits, and New Market manager C.J. Rhodes said he wasn’t disappointed with the offense.
“We had opportunities, just like [Sunday night], if a couple balls drop here, a couple balls drop there and it’s hard to look at our guys offensively and say you’re not producing,” C.J. Rhodes said. “Because they’re hitting the ball hard. I really feel like if we continue to have good swings and have quality ABs day in and day out and the game of baseball will somehow get on our side.”
In the top of the fourth, the Turks extended their lead. Welborn led off with a single off of New Market reliever Andrew Woods. Perez followed with an RBI single. One out later, Warren’s RBI single gave Harrisonburg a 10-3 lead.
The Rebels responded in the bottom of the fourth with two runs. Walker Haymaker drew a walk from Ford. Lustrino followed with a double. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by Kevin Casey and Brandon Gum cut the lead to 10-5.
Despite the rally by the Rebels, they left eight runners on base and had their opportunities to turn the game around even further.
“Even in the first six innings we had opportunities to stop the bleeding, to minimize and we didn’t make some plays,” C.J. Rhodes said. “And offensively we had some opportunities to capitalize, and be able to really shorten the lead up.”
Perez led the way for the Turks with three hits on the night. Wease said he’s happy with where his team is at right now.
“We’re in second place in the Southern [Division],” Wease said. “I think we’re in a good place right now. We got some more pitchers coming in and I think we’ll be even better. I think we’ll be all right in the long run.”
The highlight of the night for the Rebels was the pitching performance of Woods. He went seven innings in relief, allowing just seven hits and striking out seven.
“From probably the sixth on, I kept making sure the [bullpen] was ready to go,” C.J. Rhodes said. “Andrew kept looking at me in the eye and saying ‘I’m fine.’ And obviously he kept getting outs.”
Lustrino had two doubles to lead the Rebels.
“We have Covington tomorrow and they’re not going to be someone we can take lightly,” C.J. Rhodes said. “But I have confidence that we can come back out and hopefully get right on the right side of things again.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org