Gens Outlast Turks In Walk-Off Fashion
After what turned into a little bit of a chippy affair between the Generals and Turks, Alex Brait (FGCU) delivered a walk-off single to get the last laugh over the Turks.
Both starting pitchers had their good stuff working for the first half of the game on Monday night. Jake Brace for the Turks was the first to be cracked, while Nathan Schneider (St. Mary’s) was a bit more masterful in what was originally a pitcher’s dual. Schneider actually worked the first 4.2 innings in perfect fashion until he gave up back-to-back singles with 2 away in the inning. He was able to keep the shut-out in tact by stopping the threat there with one of his seven punch outs on the night.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Gens drew first blood by starting a rally with 2 outs in the inning. Joe Bellini (Cincinnati) started things off with his first hit of the summer since joining the Gens only 2 games prior to Monday night. The hit was a double down the right field line to get him into scoring position for the top of the lineup and the hot-hitting, Gabe Montenegro (Southern Miss). Montenegro was able to hit one into the hole at shortstop, but it was fielded cleanly by the Turks. However, the long and off-balance throw across the diamond was a bit wide of the mark. This errant throw allowed Bellini to score from second on an infield single. The Gens kept the line moving on a single to right by Chase Cheek (Duke) that brought Montenegro to third for Andrew Orzel (Wofford). Orzel promptly singled for the Generals 4th straight hit in the inning to score Montenegro. The Generals now had a 2 run lead for Nathan Schneider.
In the 6th is where the in-game drama began. A 1-out single started the inning for the Turks. The runner then moved up to second on a pickoff attempt that trickled into the dugout. After Schneider got another Turk to go down swinging for out number 2, he gave up an infield single to Zach Little. Runners were now on the corners for Paul Castillo, the cleanup hitter for Harrisonburg. After a 2-0 pitch caught the corner, Schneider called his catcher Alex Brait (FGCU) out to the mound. Nate had noticed that the hitter Castillo was peaking at Brait’s pitch calling signs. When Brait confronted Castillo, things got a bit heated. Brait and Castillo had to be separated, and both coaches came out to calm their players down. Once things got settled down, the very next pitch to Castillo was hit into left field for an RBI single. When Castillo got too big of a round of first, he got caught in a run down that allowed Little to score on a single from 1st base to tie the game at 2.
The Generals would bounce right back, but the chippyness continued. Jackson Webb (UCF) started the hitting with a 1-out infield single. Tyler Trovinger (Oakland) then drilled another single to center to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Bellini would come up with his second hit to make it 3 straight singles, but this time, the centerfielder botched the ground ball rolling towards him to allow both runs to score and Bellini to move up to second. Gabe Montenegro then worked a walk off of the new pitcher Connor Roberts. With men on 1st and 2nd, Chase Cheek ripped a single to right that scored Bellini and moved Montenegro to 3rd. During Andrew Orzel’s at-bat, Cheek stole second to open up a base. After Orzel struck out, the next hitter was Alex Brait. It all seemed to be a perfect storm for Harrisonburg. The player that confronted a Turk was at the plate with a base open and 2 outs in the inning. On the very first pitch of the at-bat, Alex Brait was hit by a fastball. Home plate umpire Mike Mackey immediately ejected Roberts for what looked to be an intentional bean ball. With all this told, the Generals had scored 3 runs to put themselves on top, 5-2.
After a clean 7th by both teams, Schneider would be back on the mound to try for his 8th inning of work. After a lead-off walk in the inning, the Gens would turn to Hunter Shuff (USC Aiken) to try and strand Schneider’s runner. Unfortunately, Shuff had some issues. He walked the first batter he saw to put runners on 1st and 2nd and then gave up a single to load the bases. He was able to get an out on a fielder’s choice, but a run scored. The score was now 5-3 with runners on the corner and 1 out. Shuff then walked the next hitter to load the bases again. Luke Nussman got another run in on a sac fly, but there were now 2 outs and runners at first and second. Elian Merejo came up huge with a sharply hit single to right field that was able to score Little on a close play at the plate. The score was now tied after the Turks had their chance to hit in the 8th.
In the bottom half of the 8th, it looked like the Gens were destined to score when they loaded the bases with nobody out. Harrisonburg turned to Cade Bullinger to try and get them out of a tough mess. He did just that with a strikeout, a pop-up in the infield, and a ground ball to third base to not allow a run. Alex Harper-Cook (Tennessee) came on to try and hold off the Turks to give his offense a chance to win it in a walk-off. He did just that by working 2 perfect innings in the top of the 9th and 10th.
In the 10th the Generals would have to try and figure out Bullinger, who was looking dominant. But after the lead-off double by Gabe Montenegro down the left field line, Bullinger’s job would become much tougher. Cheek was the next batter and successfully sacrificed himself to move Gabe to 3rd. The Turks chose to intentionally walk Andrew Orzel to get to the controversial figurehead of the night, Alex Brait. On a 1-2 count, Brait was able to put good wood onto a fastball to single to left to end the ball game. The Generals had walked it off in the 10th to win 6-5 for their second straight win.
Key Performers for Harrisonburg:
- Elian Merejo: 3-4, 2B, RBI
- Zach Little: 1-5, SB, RBI, 2 R
- Cade Bullinger: L (0-1), 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 IBB, 3 K
Key Performers for Waynesboro:
- Alex Brait (FGCU): 3-5, Walk-Off RBI
- Chase Cheek (Duke): 3-5, 2B, SB, RBI
- Nate Schneider (St. Mary’s): ND, 7+ IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
- Alex Harper-Cook (Tennessee): W (2-0), 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
- Gabe Montenegro (Southern Miss): 3-5, 2B, 2 R
The Generals (11-12) will try to get back to the .500 mark with their game at Rebel Park Tuesday night when they take on New Market. The game is slated for 7:30. A win would make 3 in a row for the Generals.