Hat off, jersey soaked and sweat dripping down his forehead on a sticky June night, York Revolution pitcher Corey Thurman moved to the top of the dugout steps in the top of the sixth inning on Monday night.
An inning before, Camden scored four runs off Thurman to tie the game. It's not the way Thurman envisioned this night going. Making his first start since his father died last week, Thurman's day was done after five innings, the first four of them scoreless.
Thurman's wife, Angela, their 2-year-old daughter, Ella, and mother, Wanda, were there in the stands at Santander Stadium on Monday night in support of the veteran pitcher. As reliever Shawn Hedrick entered from the bullpen to begin the sixth, signaling the end of Thurman's night, Thurman turned around at the top of the dugout steps, looked to his right, made eye contact with his family and used his right hand to motion blowing a kiss in their direction.
"I just looked at them and just blew them a kiss to let them know I love them and that this is what we're here for. For my dad," Thurman said.
If someone ever needed a pick-me-up, it would've been Thurman. Perhaps his teammates sensed it. And they made sure this night would be a good one for the 35-year-old right-hander by coming up huge in the remaining innings to get an emotional, gritty win, beating the visiting Riversharks, 8-6, in front of 4,441 fans in the series finale against Camden (18-33). Thurman got a no-decision. It didn't matter.
"I just wanted to do my best for my pops. Put us in a position to win," Thurman said. "We ended up winning the game. That was awesome."
Monday marked Thurman's first start since June 1. The franchise leader in just about every major pitching category, Thurman had been away from the club the last two weeks to be with his family at Beaumont Hospital just outside of Detroit, Mich., next to his ailing father. A 33-pitch fifth inning spelled Thurman's exit. He left having tossed 79 pitches, 52 of them for strikes.
Hedrick: In came Hedrick, a 39-year-old York County sandlot legend, who was signed Monday and arrived at the stadium an hour before game time, with the goal of giving some rest to a tired Revs' bullpen. Hedrick had done something similar for York in 2009, 2010 and 2011. And he did his job again three years later. Despite giving up a run, the righty provided two innings of relief, tossing 27 of his 46 pitches for strikes. Hedrick left immediately after the game ended because he had to work his full-time job the next morning, according to Revs' manager Mark Mason. Hedrick got credit for the victory.
All of the Revolution pitchers had used a silver marker to etch the initials KRT on the brim of their hats in remembrance of Thurman's father, Kelvin Rodney Thurman, who died last Thursday after battling complications stemming from brain surgery last month.
One of them was Revs reliever Julio DePaula, who allowed a run but closed out the final two innings for York (30-21). The Revs' offense did the rest. York went back up by a run in the bottom of the fifth inning only to see Camden tie it in the top of the seventh inning. York responded with a three-run frame in the bottom half of the seventh and held on for the victory.
Six York batters had a hit. Chad Tracy, who had one home run all season entering the night, had two solo bombs in the win. The Revs' 9-1-2 batters — Salvador Paniagua, Justin Greene and Wilson Valdez — each had three hits.
And York won for the fifth time in the final game of six-game set against the worst team in the Atlantic League to move into a tie with Lancaster (30-21) for first place in the Atlantic League Freedom Division. Lancaster lost, 2-0, to a Bridgeport team managed by Pete Rose for the night as part of a managerial promotion by the club that made national headlines.
Monday was a fitting send-off for a York ballclub that will now hit the road for the next eight games, beginning Tuesday at Bridgeport (18-31).
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.