Making It Count
South All-Stars To Share Spotlight Sunday
HARRISONBURG – Even at 70 years old, Bob Wease remains as competitive as they come in his approach to the game of baseball.
That’s what makes the longtime Harrisonburg Turks owner/manager’s view of Sunday night’s Valley Baseball League All-Star Game at Veterans Memorial Park all the more surprising.
“To be honest with you, it doesn’t matter who wins,” said Wease, who will manage the South squad. “It’s all about the scouts.”
Indeed, with nothing but pride on the line when the 29-player North and South teams face off on Sunday, Wease said he is most concerned with giving the entirety of his roster an equal opportunity. He expects around 30 professional scouts to be on hand Sunday – with a 60-yard dash competition and seven-player home run derby preceding the 7:30 p.m. game.
“It’s stressful, it really is,” Wease said. “Because my biggest fear, my biggest worry, is that I’m going to slight somebody – that somebody’s not going to get the needed playing time. And that’s the last thing I want. I don’t want that. I want to make sure everybody’s happy.”
In doing so, Wease said his pitchers will throw no more than one inning apiece and each of his batters will receive at least two at-bats.
With a first-place mark of 16-7 entering this weekend’s All-Star break, Harrisonburg landed a Valley League-best eight players on the South roster. Among the Turks represented are Georgia State designated hitter Matt Rose (.366 average), Wingate center fielder Thomas Spitz (.344) and Georgia State left-hander Garrett Ford (4-1, 1.75 ERA). Rose and reigning All-Star Game MVP Eric Kalbfleisch – a UNC-Greensboro outfielder – will represent the Turks in Sunday’s home run derby.
In addition to his baseball duties – which Wease joked pay him $250,000 per year – the Turks mainstay also owns a car dealership. His South Main Street office doubles as a baseball shrine, with countless memory-inducing photos of himself alongside former Harrisonburg players, who ultimately reached the Major League, plastered across its walls.
Included in the cathedral of nostalgia are framed snapshots of Frank Menechino – one of Wease’s all-time favorite Turks and now the hitting coach of the Miami Marlins – towering relief pitcher Jon Rauch, speedy outfielder Juan Pierre and 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein, among many others.
Wease expects to add a few more images to his wall by the time this year’s Harrisonburg group has seen its day.
“There’s 58 players there,” Wease said of this year’s All-Star teams. “Out of those 58 guys, I would say that at least 15 to 20 of ‘em will put on a Major League uniform at one time or another. Now that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay, but they will put on a Major League uniform. And out of this group of 58 ball players, you’ll have four or five guys – maybe 10 – that will be in the big leagues for a long time.”
Wease’s counterpart for Sunday’s game is 30-year-old North manager Brad Neffendorf, whose Front Royal team sits at second in the Valley League standings at 18-8.
His Cardinals, along with Staunton, will have seven representatives in uniform.
Neffendorf’s approach to managing the North squad is not all that different from Wease’s.
“Obviously we’re going to manage to win,” said Neffendorf, a former part-time scout with the Marlins. “But the main deal is to get these guys their time.”
Sunday’s All-Star Game rosters
Darian Carpenter, 1B, New Market, Virginia Commonwealth (Richmond, Va.)
Joe Chittester, DH, New Market, University of Pittsburgh Bradford (Ridgway, Pa.)
Blake Edwards,SS, Covington, Columbus State University (Zebulon, Ga.)
J.C. Escarra, C, Staunton, Florida International University (Hialeah, Fla.)
Garrett Ford, LHP, Harrisonburg, Georgia State University (Loganville, Ga.)
Brandon Gold, 3B, Harrisonburg, Georgia Tech (Johns Creek, Ga.)
Cole Gruber, OF, Waynesboro, University of Nebraska Omaha (Papillion, Neb.)
Brandon Gum, SS, New Market, George Mason University (Woodbridge, Va.)
Garrett Kelly, RHP, New Market, Wake Forest University (Fresno, Cal.)
Eric Kalbfleisch, OF, Harrisonburg, UNC Greensboro (Pilot Mountain, N.C.)
Jimmy Kerrigan, OF, New Market, Temple University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Kooper Kessler, RHP, Staunton, Middle Tennessee State University (Bolivar, Tenn.)
Kevin Lewallyn, RHP, Harrisonburg, Duke University (Stevenson Ranch, Cal.)
Mike Marcinko UT, Waynesboro, Shippensburg University (Philipsburg,Pa.)
Gunnar McNeill,1B, Staunton, Florida International University (Windermere, Fla.)
Matt O'Neil, 3B, Covington, University of Rhode Island (East Longmeadow, Ma.)
Jake Perkins, RHP, New Market, Ferrum College (Appomattox, Va.)
Blake Ream, RHP, Staunton, Longwood University (Yorktown, Va.)
Richie Ricciardi, 2B, Staunton, Alvernia University (Manalapan, N.J.)
Joey Roach, C, Harrisonburg, Georgia State University (Holly Springs, N.C.)
Joey Rodriguez, OF, Staunton, Wake Forest University (Miami, Fla.)
Matt Rose, DH, Harrisonburg, Georgia State University (Melbourne, Fla.)
Jeff Schank, LHP, Waynesboro, Butler University (Naperville, Ill.)
Thomas Smith, 2B, Harrisonburg, Georgia Tech (Fort Pierce, Fla.)
Thomas Spitz, OF, Harrisonburg, Wingate University (West Chester, Pa.)
Cody Strayer, RHP, Covington, Shawnee State University (Columbus, Ohio)
Ryan Testani, RHP, Covington, Seton Hall University (Shelton, Conn.)
Hunter Thomas, OF, Staunton, Georgia Southern University (Johns Creek, Ga.)
Zach Williamsen, RHP, Waynesboro, University of Nebraska Omaha (Omaha, Neb.)
Manager: Bob Wease, Harrisonburg
Jake Anthony, RHP, Charles Town, Georgia College (Canton, Ga.)
Kevin Baron, 2B, Strasburg, La Salle University (Towson, Md.)
Mark Baughman, LHP, Woodstock, Louisiana Tech (Sugar Land, Texas)
Evan Bickett, RHP, Front Royal, Indiana University Southeast (Shepherdsville, Ky.)
Jose Bonilla-Traverso, OF, Strasburg, Florida Atlantic University (Aguada, P.R.)
Charles Cantrell, RHP, Winchester, North Carolina A&T (Cerritos, Cal.)
Humberto Delatorre, RHP, Aldie, South Carolina-Beaufort (Port Royal, S.C.)
Jerry Downs, 1B, Winchester, St. Thomas University (Miami, Fla.)
Tom Durkin, RHP, Strasburg, Coastal Carolina University (Tinley Park, Ill.)
Matthew Gandy, C, Charles Town, Chapman University (Tustin, Cal.)
Joe Giacchino, OF, Aldie, University of Delaware (West Chester, Pa.)
Jake Harper, LHP, Front Royal, St. Joseph’s College (Frankfort, Ill.)
Logan Hoggarth, OF, Woodstock, Boston College (North Port, Fla.)
Dave Hoffmann, C, Woodstock, Siena College (Niskayuna, N.Y.)
Brock Hunter, LHP, Strasburg, Coastal Carolina University (Mclean, Va.)
Reece Karalus, RHP, Aldie, Santa Clara University (North Bend, Wa.)
Stephen Kerr, 2B, Charles Town, Florida Atlantic University (Margate, Fla.)
Keegan Long, RHP, Front Royal, St. Joseph’s College (Edon, Ohio)
Alex Mata, SS, Winchester, St. Leo University (Fort Myers, Fla.)
Shell McCain, OF, Front Royal, Tennessee Wesleyan College (Fort Mill, S.C.)
Luke Mould, RHP, Winchester, University of Alabama-Huntsville (Athens, Ala.)
Austin Munn, RHP, Woodstock, Ave Maria University (Lafayette, Ind.)
Hunter Newman, 3B, Front Royal, Trevecca Nazarene University (Chapmansboro, Tn.)
Anthony Payne, C, Strasburg, West Virginia State (Hurricane, W.Va.)
Esteban Puerta, 1B, Woodstock, Florida Atlantic University (Cooper City, Fla.)
Nick Sinay, OF, Front Royal, University of Buffalo (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Austin Stephens, LHP, Charles Town, Grand Rapids CC (Rockford, Mi.)
Garret Vrbanic, SS, Aldie, Seton Hill (Glenshaw, Pa.)
Spencer Wolfe, C, Front Royal, Shepherd College (Huntingtown, Md.)
Manager: Brad Neffendorf, Front Royal