Front Royal falls in blowout to Turks

By Brad Fauber

FRONT ROYAL — Not much went right for Front Royal in Thursday’s Valley League contest with visiting Harrisonburg.

The Cardinals mustered just three hits, struck out 14 times and committed three costly errors in a 10-1 loss to the Turks. Harrisonburg’s win — which snapped a three-game slide for the Turks — ended Front Royal’s four-game win streak to open the season.

“No energy. We struck out 14 times. We might’ve had a dozen free bases and three hits, some baserunning mistakes — so that’s going to compound, against a good baseball team, into a loss,” Cardinals manager Brad Neffendorf said. “We’re going to lose some ballgames. We’re going to get back after it tomorrow. I just expected a little bit more energy and better approaches at the plate.”

The Turks (2-3) blew the game open with nine combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but Harrisonburg wouldn’t have need much offensive support on Thursday. Starting pitcher Kevin Lewallyn and reliever Brett Morgan each tallied seven strikeouts apiece in the ballgame, and Morgan didn’t allow a hit in his 3 2/3 innings of work.

Lewallyn, a left-hander from Duke University, allowed just one unearned run on Wardy Polanco’s RBI double in the bottom of the third inning in an at-bat that was extended when Polanco’s pop-up into foul territory was dropped by Turks first baseman Chris Barr.

Lewallyn (2-0) scattered three hits, four walks and a hit batter before giving way to Morgan with one out in the sixth inning.

“He’s just a competitive little lefty. He just throws strikes, and that’s the most important thing in this Valley League,” Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said.

The Turks took an early lead in the top of the third inning, as Barr reached on an error to lead off the inning and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Eric Kalbfleisch.

Harrisonburg broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the fifth inning off Cardinals starting pitcher Beau Bowen.

Bowen, who had stranded five baserunners in the first three innings, seemed to lose some of his control in the top of the fifth. He dealt back-to-back one out walks to Barr and Matt Rose, and two wild pitches allowed Barr to score to give the Turks a 2-1 lead.

Kalbfleisch plated Rose with an RBI double to left-center and later scored on a passed ball.

“He hadn’t thrown in a while, but he did a good job of keeping us in the ballgame,” Neffendorf said of Bowen, who lasted five innings an allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks while striking out four. “Then we go and boot the ball around.”

Harrisonburg erupted for six more runs off Cardinals reliever Logan Longwith in the sixth inning despite getting just three hits.

Ben Breazeale opened the sixth with a double, and Longwith walked No. 9 hitter Steven McLean before a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position. With the infield in, Barr sent a grounder up the middle that went off the glove of Polanco at short and allowed two runs to score.

Longwith got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but the Turks were far from done. Kalbfleisch was awarded first base on catcher’s interference, and he and Barr scored on a two-RBI triple by Joey Roach (2-for-5) that gave Harrisonburg an 8-1 lead.

“We’ve been hitting the ball real good all year, it’s just been going right at people,” Wease said. “We had the same approach, we just had a few fall in tonight.”

Hunter King capped the six-run rally with a two-RBI single on a chopper up the middle to give the Turks a 10-1 lead.

Josh Keim and Zach Spangler combined to throw the final three innings, and neither allowed a hit.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com