It was hard to believe after the previous 36 hours or so of torrential downpours, but when the 7:30 start rolled around for this one, it was bright and sunny, and the turf at Veterans Memorial Park was bone dry. The warning track was a little damp, but the cool evening was perfect for baseball.
Perfect for pitching, maybe. The game was dominated by pitching as the Waynesboro Generals defeated the Harrisonburg Turks, 2-1, in the first game of their playoff series.
Waynesboro scored their first run, unearned, with an old fashioned sacrifice fly in the 4th inning. After a McClain Bradley single to lead off the inning off Turk starter Matt Young, Reid Long also singled. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, and Bradley scored on a James Consentino fly ball to right.
The Generals struck again in the 7th, this time off reliever Grant Stewart. With 2 outs, Joseph Bellini sliced a double down the right field line, and Patrick Cromwell followed with a triple into the right centerfield gap.
Harrisonburg threatened in the 6th, when both Austin Embler and Joe Lytle singled with two outs, but an Elliott Cary pop up ended the rally. The Turks cut the deficit to one in the 9th, when Lytle led off the inning with a triple into the left center field gap, and scored on a Bryan Arias groundout.
The real story, though, is Waynesboro starter Payton Kinney, who held the Turks to 6 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run while striking out 4 in a complete game effort. Kinney threw exactly 100 pitches in the contest.
A little “drama” unfolded in the bottom of the 8th inning, when Embler could not hang on to his bat, and twice launched his implement onto the roof of the General dugout. On a third swing, the bat flew into the Waynesboro dugout. No one was hurt.
The real drama happened after the top of the 9th, when Harrisonburg reliever Jarred Taylor took umbrage at a comment made from the General dugout, and both teams, including the Turk bullpen, met for a “chat” around home plate. Order was quickly restored, and both benches were warned by the umpiring crew.
Both teams will travel to Waynesboro for game two tomorrow evening, when the Turks will try to keep from becoming the 5th straight Turks squad to bow out in round one of the playoffs, and the Generals will attempt to move on to round 2 to meet the winner of Charlottesville and Staunton.