Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jefferson and LU force 1 game show down for Big South crown

Jeff Jefferson (Luray, 2008) led the Liberty University attack again as the Flames defeated #1 seed Coastal Carolina (46-12) 13-1 Saturday afternoon. The victory was the fourth straight for the Flames (35-25-1), with each one coming in a win or go home contest.

Jefferson followed up his Friday performance by going 2-4 with 3 rbi's and 1 run scored. The right fielder from Danville is now 12 for 20 (.600) with 7 runs scored and 7 rbi's for LU. The Flames took the diamond at 4:45 p.m. today in search of a five straight win and the opportunity to take the Royal Purple Big South Championship trophy back up US-Highway 29 to Lynchburg.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wrangler to be Jeff Jefferson has huge day for Liberty/ DBU update

Liberty University (34-25-1) relied on former Wrangler Dustin Umburger to remain alive in the Big South tourney in Danville,Va. earlier today but Wrangler in waiting Jeff Jefferson stole the show in the night cap. Jefferson was playing in his hometown and he made the home folks proud as the right fielder went 5 for 5 with 4 runs scored in LU's 15-3 victory over Winthrop.

#2 seed LU advances to the final Saturday against top seed Costal Carolina after capturing three straight wins in do or die games. The Flames must defeat CC in the 1:00 p.m. contest to force a second game for the Big South trophy.

Playing as an independent has Dallas Baptist University sitting out this week with no conference tourney to try and capture. DBU moved up to #31 on the RPI rankings this week (best of all D-1 independents) and await word from the NCAA on Monday as to there Big Dance invitation. The Patriots will be sending a fourth player to Luray this week or next. 6'3 pitcher Jeremy Parrish (Texas City, Texas) will be joining Clay Kelly, Josh Wilson and Chris Haney in making the 1,800 mile journey. I guess Drew Pirtle and Wayne Dowling must of gave great reviews on the town of Luray and the Valley Baseball League.

Dowling broke away from his busy schedule to offer his thoughts on the Patriots chances to make the field of 64...

"Baseball America says we are a lock but rivals says we are in the last five in category," Dowling said. "I am getting kinda nervous but we will find out Monday."

Former Wrangler Dustin Umberger tosses complete game

2007 Wrangler pitching star Dustin Umberger (8-3) took to the mound earlier today with his Liberty Flames season on the line. Liberty (33-25-1) faced Radford in an elimination game in the Big South tourney down in Danville and Umberger went the distance in an 11-2 victory.

The celebration will be short lived as LU will be back on the diamond later tonight for a 7:00 p.m. game against the loser of the Winthrop - Coastal Carolina match-up. Umberger going the distance was big as LU skipper Jim Toman will have his entire bullpen available for the next round. Radford defeated LU 15-4 earlier in the tourney to push the Flames into the win or go home phase of the tourney earlier in the week.

Umberger carried a no hitter into the fifth inning and cruised home with the same type of dominating performance that ruled the Valley League last season. Despite the loss Radford (24-32)concludes a positive season which included capturing two games in the Big South event.
You can follow the remainder of the tourney by checking in at http://www.bigsouthsports.com/
Congrats to Dustin !

Opening Night with the Fauquier Gators 5/31/08

While in Warrenton yesterday I picked up a flyer describing the day that Alison, Cecil and company have planned for the Gators opening night. There would appear to something for all
ages so if you're in the area please stop by the field at Fauquier High School.

3:00 to 4:45 - Free Baseball Clinic (Registration 2:30-3:00) All children K-8 are welcome.

5:00 p.m. - Batting Practice

All clinic participants will be invited to join the Gators on the field for the National Anthem @ 7:30 p.m.

Concessions will be open early for this event....

For more information on opening night or the Gators visit http://www.fauquiergators.org/

Friday Night w/ Mike Schikman (WSVA-550 AM)

I am looking forward to the visit with Mike down at the radio station in Harrisonburg tonight. The coolest part of the promotion up until now has been getting to spend some time with the likes of Mike Barber, Chris Graham and speaking to groups like the Shenandoah Valley Grandstand Managers Club of New Market.

After tonight I will be able to add one of the most loved and respected voices of our valley in Mike Schikman. I need to thank Teresa (Mrs.Turk) for the effort- I hope she didn't twist Mike's
arm to hard for this opportunity. I guess if Mike is wearing a sling tonight I will know the answer to that question!

Everybody is so, so busy these days and for Mike to take the time to visit with both John Leonard (All Things Valley League) and myself is a blessing. We are just 8 days way from the first pitch of another great Valley League Baseball season and sitting down with Mike should give us one more chance to spread the word about the best kept secret in baseball.

The broadcast tonight will be from 6:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Mike's station WSVA!

While I am on the subject of thanking Teresa- the note you sent yesterday could not have come at a better time! My daughter Rebecca and I had just finished a 6+ hour loop to drop material off in Fauquier, Haymarket,Winchester and Front Royal. If there is a story left to tell by me it would be called: The Women behind the Valley League. A feature story or a short book could be filled with the efforts of some of the women responsible for keeping the league where it need to be.

Also- thanks to the above mentioned teams for making the drop off process easier for us. I
understand it was a work day for each of you and we appreciate the efforts each of you made!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Eagles.. Better than ever @ JPJ Arena/ WSVA

I took a one evening break from baseball and worked my way over to UVA last night to watch the Eagles perform at the JPJ. It had been 30 years since the last time I had the pleasure of watching Glen Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh take the stage. While my
season tickets to watch the Hoos play had me very familiar with the building, it was my first time seeing a concert there and I left there quite impressed.

The banner said the JPJ had been named best new concert venue last year and I would strongly suggest catching a show there in the future if you have the chance. It didn't hurt that I
was able to listen to the greatest collection of musicians (just my humble opinion) play for over 3 hours.

The highlight of the night came when Joe led the band in an extended version of "Life's Been Good" and to segway back to baseball- with the Valley League opener just days away- I can say "Life is Good".

Another tip of the cap to Teresa in Harrisonburg as I and Mr.John Leonard have been invited to sit with WSVA's Mike Schikman on his radio show- "Speaking of Sports" this Friday evening to talk about the promotion and Valley Baseball! The show runs from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. on WSVA and I hope some VBL fans will have the time to listen!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lefty John Lloyd and Radford advance in Big South play!

Eric Evans took the mound for #6 seed Radford University(23-30) yesterday in Danville, Va. as the Highlanders opened play in the Big South Tourney against #7 seed Charleston Southern.
Evans dominated the game for 8.1 innings before giving the ball to teammate John Lloyd. Llyod was not eligible for a save as Radford led 6-1 but that didn't keep the junior from recording two quick outs (1 ground out, 1 KO) to close out the contest.

I am not sure if Mr.Lloyd was there for the contest but I am sure Dad is proud either way. Radford advances to the double-elimination portion of the tourney and will face either #1 Coastal
Carolina or #2 Liberty University next in Danville.

Big South play continues today and you should go to http://www.bigsouthsports.com/ for more tourney highlights!

Chris Graham and The New Dominion feature !

Mr.Chris Graham (Sports Dominion/New Dominion/ Augusta Free Press) checked in today and
brought some very exciting news! Chris will be visiting the two Augusta County stops (Waynesboro 6/1 & Staunton 6/11) with us and will be writing a feature story on Around The Valley in 60 Days for his summer publication.

I enjoyed our earlier interview and his work and I look forward to meeting with him again here in just 11 days. Baseball fans- did you here that- just 11 days!

Kouzmanoff crushes 3-run Home Run in SD 3-2 win!

Karma is a big part of baseball and Around The Valley love shown for Kevin Kouzmanoff (Winchester,2002) earlier this month paid off. The promotions favorite big leaguer, Greg Maddux was on the hook for a 2-0 deficit late last night in a contest versus visiting St.Louis.

Maddux had pitched as he says just good enough to lose but Kouz took care of all of that with just one swing as the third baseman crushed a Joel Pinerio offering to straight away center field.

The 3-run home run proved to be the difference and Kouz finished the night with two of the six Padre hits. I have only one question for you Kevin, couldn't you of hit it one inning earlier so my guy could of picked up victory #351?

For the struggling Padres a win is a win is a win. Maddux on the season 3W-4L-3ND and he will try it again in 5 days!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lady Bulldogs Win 14-2

We had the opportunity to go see the Luray Lady Bulldogs take on the Riverheads Lady Gladiators. It was an amazing game and we took a lot of pictures! If you want to check out the full story of the Bulldogs' 14-2 victory over the Gladiators, check out this week's edition of the Page News and Courier. Until then, check out these pictures...

















Rain helps keep Umberger and Liberty from perfect May

Former Luray Wrangler pitcher Dustin Umberger and his Liberty University teammates had been red hot heading into their regular season finale Sunday vs. High Point. LU was undefeated for the month of May (9-0-1) and Dustin was scheduled to chase his third straight victory during that stretch.

Dustin went the distance back on May 10th at Longwood as he collected his 7th win on the season. After leading the 2007 Valley League in almost every pitching category, the junior found a grove against the Lancers.The final stat line included just four hits and six strike outs as the Flames defeated their US-460 rival 5-3.

Liberty swept the first two games from High Point but simply could not get the weather to co-operate on Sunday. A series of lenghty rain delays kept Umberger from returning to pitch in the fourth inning and the home team eventually dropped an 8-4 decision to High Point.

The Flames enter the Big South tournament in Danville,Va. this week as the number two seed with hopes of advancing on into the post season.

DBU sweeps San Francisco, awaits NCAA bid

After splitting their double header at Texas Tech the Dallas Baptist University Patriots headed west to close out their regular season. The Dons (U of SF) hosted the independant school for three games beginning Thursday night.The general thought heading into the final series was DBU (Luray West as I like to call them) needed to take 2 of 3 from the host team to secure an at large bid to the NCAA field of 64.

There were plenty of late game heriocs throughout the series as DBU (37-17) rallied in all three contest to sweep the series. DBU rallied from a late 2-0 deficit in the opener to capture a 4-2 victory and followed it up with a pair of 10 inning wins by scores of 11-7 and 7-6.

The final victory included a last at bat 2 run home run (Evan Bigley) to tie the game at 3-3 and the Patriots captured the tenth inning by outscoring the Dons 4-3.Luray Wrangler to be Chris Haney recorded his third save by closing out USF after they closed to with-in 7-6.

Clay Kelly (.304) and former Wrangler Drew Pirtle (.313) both completed the regular season above .300. Freshman Josh Wilson batted .267 in limited action as Wilson played the field and pitched in his first season at DBU.

Wayne Dowling (18 appr.- 2-0, 3.41 era) and Haney (22 appr- 6-4, 3 saves and 2.33 era) joined Wilson (5 appr- 0-0, 2.08 era) as part of the pitching staff for the Patriots...We will check back on the Patriots when the bids are handed out!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The First Pitch at your next "Home Game"

The hope from the beginning of the Around The Valley promotion was to have the first fan from any of the teams to complete their trek through the league be acknowledged at their home teams next game. The hope that the cermony would include throwing out the First Pitch. After the latest owners meeting this past week I can comfortably say that will indeed happen!

It will be up to each individual club as to how they move forward past the first local fan but we will try our best to make sure each dedicated fan that completes the journey is properly recognized for his or her efforts!

We are now inside of two weeks until we kick off the festivities in Woodstock at the River Bandits home opener. The following night we will make it down to Waynesboro for the Generals home opener as well. We will continue to post all of the updates possible as we head down the home stretch- waiting for those two magical words:

PLAY BALL!