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Posted June 13, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Worn down Turks find way to top Cardinals

By Greg Brill -- sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- A team that arrives back home in the early-morning hours after an extra-innings loss is not supposed to come out and swing the bats well early in its next game.

Someone must have forgotten to get the memo to the Harrisonburg Turks.

Facing Front Royal fireballer Rob Nixon on Friday night, the Turks scored all their runs in the first three innings to top the Cardinals 5-2 in a Valley Baseball League game at Bing Crosby Stadium.

"I honestly thought we'd come out flat," Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said. "I'm really proud of the guys. Tonight, bang, bang, bang, you saw the first three innings. The guys did great."

Three errors by the Cardinals in the first two innings helped the Turks (3-2) jump ahead 2-0. When the top of its order batted for a second time to begin the third, Harrisonburg strung together plenty of offense to end Nixon's outing (two-plus innings, six hits, three earned runs) a bit early.

Ryan Eden led off with a rip to the alley in right-center for a double. Eden wheeled around third on Nathan Weglarz single to shallow right, and Bobby Brown singled to put runners on the corners.

Nixon then gave up an opposite-field RBI single to Mike Schwartz, a walk to Nathan Bryan, and another run-scoring hit to Garrett May and was done.

"I think Rob was winded there a little bit because in his last outing [on June 6] he kind of cruised," Front Royal manager Joe Scarano said. "He faced a little bit of adversity this time and they put the bat to the barrel. He'll have starts like that sometimes. You know, he's got electric stuff. He really does. It's just any time a team starts gaining momentum, it's really tough to stop that momentum."

Coming off a two-hit performance over six shutout innings in his winning start opening night against Haymarket, Nixon (1-1) still had good velocity, if not enough command, against Harrisonburg.

"He had some good stuff, definitely," said Brown, who knocked in the Turks' first run with a sacrifice fly in the first. "I think we got on him pretty early and we were able to be successful and scored the runs when we needed them."

The Turks were pleased to come back strong after losing to the Senators 6-5 in 14 innings on Thursday and not getting back in Harrisonburg until 2:30 a.m. on Friday.

The pitching Wease sent out to face the Cardinals (5-2) was up to snuff most of the game.

Making his first start, Austrailian Aaron Lutchterhand (1-0) began with two perfect innings and held Front Royal to one run over his first five innings.

"He was throwing 92, 93 [mph] tonight," Wease said. "He looked very good. He really did."

The Cardinals had three straight, one-out hits in the third, including Buddy Sosnoski's RBI hit to right that he gained a double on with hustle. A walk to Jesse Henry loaded the bases, and the Cardinals had the heart of their order coming up. But Lutcherhand struck out Steve McQuail and got a force on Jared Simon's grounder to end the inning.

Lutcherhand gave Harrisonburg just what it needed, throwing two more scoreless innings, before the right-hander started to get the ball up in the sixth and the Cardinals took advantage.

McQuail rocked his league-leading fifth homer far over the wall in right-center leading off, and Simon followed with a line-drive double into the right-field corner to finish Luthcherhand's stint.

After giving up a walk to the first batter he faced, Tim Kiley got three straight outs. Kiley and Chris Sorce had electric stuff from there, with Sorce coming on to strikeout the side in the ninth for his second save.

The Turks had a season-best 10 hits, with seven starters getting at least one. Eden, Weglarz, Brown and May each had two apiece.

The Cardinals did get solid relief from Carrick Tuck and Jeff DeCarlo, who combined to allow no runs over their combined seven innings.

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