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Posted July 7, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Owens leads Rebels past Turks

By Dennis Atwood -- sports@nvdaily.com

NEW MARKET -- New Market's 6-foot-9 starting pitcher Steve Owens allowed only one hit in six innings to help lead the Rebels to a 5-3 win over Harrisonburg on Monday night in Valley Baseball League action.

Owens struck out seven and walked two. Those positive numbers were counter-balanced by two errors and two wild pitches, and a hit batsman, giving the Turks two unearned runs. Owens had thrown 103 pitches and left the game with a 4-2 lead.

"My change-up was working well and I have a very good catcher [George Carroll] behind the plate, who called very good pitches," Owens said. "We worked well together last time, and we picked it up right where we left off last game. Those wild pitches were frustrating, but we had a lead. So, you gotta just keep plugging along, put it in the zone, and pitch to contact. That's what this league's all about with wooden bats."

New Market (12-12, 5-5 Central) batters stroked six hits for four runs in the first four innings.

"We lost one catcher, and we still like to have two, so they've kinda been alternating," Rebels head coach Lucas Jones said. "Jake [Pierce] has been hurt and George [Caroll] has had the run of work the last week, and he's fit in real well with us. I feel if we're ahead in the ninth inning we're going to win because our relievers are so effective."

One of the newest Rebel acquisitions, Carroll (N.Y. Tech) went 3-for-4, and bashed a double to right field in the seventh to plate Seth Kivett with the fifth New Market run. That gave the Rebels a slim 5-3 cushion.

"I should have been 4-for 4, because I think I missed the tag on the bunt [in the fifth inning]," Caroll said. "I got a good piece of it [for the double] and hit it pretty good. I just got lucky, he got it up, and I went the other way with it. I arrived last Friday from Catham in the Cape Cod League. I got a call to come here and New Market's a great place."

Harrisonburg's (12-13, 6-3 Central) first hit was a lead-off double in the fourth inning by Thomas Nichols, who hit a double in the ninth. Nichols went 2-for-5, and was the only Turk to get two hits. They got one more hit in seventh, two in the eighth and one in the ninth, as three Rebel relievers held them to one additional run, and Brian Burgess picked up his sixth save.

Turk starter Ed Wakefield worked 5 2/3 innings, gave up four runs, and took a loss for his first decision of the season.

"We had one hit for six innings, and it's hard to win like that," Harrisonburg head coach Bob Wease said. "We had several opportunities with men on third three different times with one out, and we struck out after that. You just need to put the ball in play to have a chance to score. We're just not patient enough at the plate lately."

Both squads left nine runners on base.

The Central Division rivals hadn't met since opening day, when the Turks won 7-2. They will play each other six times after the All-Star break.

"Game-by-game we make sure we're trying to stay positive and just take the situations, both individually, and as a team," Jones said. There have been spots where we've dug our own grave a little bit, but we've been able to emerge and get outs when we needed 'em and hits when we needed 'em. It's a testament to those guys and the quality of the programs at their schools. These guys have done a good job of being able to rebound and come through some tough spots. I'd just like to get a good streak going over the next nine games, so we can be in good shape for a run for the playoffs. We're definitely a playoff caliber team."

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