Sandusky grad Turner headed to College World Series
Aug 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM
When Xavier Turner opted not to sign with the Boston Red Sox shortly after high school graduation from Sandusky in 2012, it was for moments like Sunday.
As the starter for two years at SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt, Turner chose the Commodores to play for a legendary coach in a superior conference — and have the opportunity to play in the College World Series.
The No. 14-ranked Commodores (46-19) beat Stanford (34-26) in a winner-takeall NCAA super regional game Sunday in Nashville, 12-5, sending the Commodores to their second trip to Omaha for the CWS (2011).
“It still hasn’t hit me yet. Just a genuine dream come true” Turner said Sunday night. “We didn’t make it happen last year when we had a great team. It’s a feeling I can’t really describe”
A year ago, Vanderbilt was 54-10 and No. 2 in the country entering a Super Regional against Louisville with a team that featured five players chosen in the top 10 rounds of the MLB Draft.
But that Commodores team lost two straight games to the Cardinals, and didn’t reach Omaha.
This season, Vanderbilt was swept by South Carolina to end the regular season, then went 1-2 for an early exit in the SEC tournament, and a skid of five losses in six games entering the NCAA tournament.
However, the Commodores were still awarded a host site in the NCAA regionals, and they dispatched Xavier, and Oregon twice to set up a best-of-three series with Stanford for the right to reach the CWS. “Everything was in our hands, just like last year” Turner said. “But with the way the season ended, there was no pressure to get to Omaha, unlike last year. Winning Game 1 (11-6 Friday night) was huge for us … Stanford was a good team.
“No lead was ever safe with them” he added. “They can hit the ball, but I’m proud of everyone on the team for competing and getting it done. We held our own, we got it done”
To end Sunday’s game, Turner, who finished 1 for 3 with an RBI, thought he was going to catch the ball for the final out of the game, but he was waved off by shortstop Vince Conde, then made his way to the celebration pile.
“Yeah, I’m a little upset with him waving me off, I thought I was going to catch that final out, the thief,” Turner joked. “But it was just a shocking, great feeling. Again, really just a dream come true.
“We just stayed together as a team and played good clean baseball” he added. “When we play like that, we feel like we’re as good as anyone in the country”
In 61 starts, Turner his hitting .283 with 15 doubles, two home runs and 37 RBIs for the Commodores entering their first game of the double-elimination CWS, which will be against a familiar opponent: No. 9 Louisville at 6 p.m. Saturday.
On top of losing to the Cardinals to end last season prematurely, Louisville beat Vanderbilt 11-7 in a mid-week game on May 6 in Nashville.
“I’m excited to play them again … we always run into each other,” Turner said. “What happened last year and earlier this year is in the past. We’ll be ready. We’re just excited to get out there and enjoy the atmosphere”