Fox Post 2 knows it can rely on Dover’s Turner

 

DOVER — For a little kid, this was a really big moment.

Six years ago, with Dover trying to hang on to a slim lead against mighty M.O.T. in the Major League baseball District I championship game, Cameron Turner got the job of pitching the final three innings.

“I was a little nervous but I was more excited,” Turner remembered. “I’ve always liked the big situations and the pressure. It’s always been the fun part of the game for me.”

Turner gave up a couple runs but Dover won the game, 12-9, to snap M.O.T.’s run of nine-straight district titles. The 12-year-old ended up at the bottom of the dogpile of celebrating teammates.

A lot has changed since then. Turner is now a Dover High grad pitching for Fox Post 2.

But Turner’s manager from Major League all-stars — Paul Quirk — is still his manager with Fox Post 2. And with the American Legion state tournament starting this weekend, Quirk still has the same confidence in Turner that he had six years ago.

As the South Division champion, Fox Post 2 (14-8) is seeded second and faces No. 7 Canal Post 25 Middletown (12-11) on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at New Castle’s Wilson Field.

Dover High grad Cam Turner pitched for the District I all-stars in the Big League World Series last summer./File photo

Other downstate squads in the eight-team field include Post 14 Smyrna (13-8), the fifth seed, which faces No. 4 Stahl Post 30 (15-9) at 4:30 p.m. at Wilson Field and sixth-seeded Nanticoke Post 6 (12-10) which opens against the No. 3 Post 10 Generals (16-7) at William Penn High at noon.

Quirk remembers that 2011 Major League championship game, too.

“I was saving Cam for then (the end of the game) because he had that nice curveball and they could hit fastballs,” said Quirk. “I remember thinking that he was going to be the closer against them, that’s for sure.”

Turner certainly doesn’t throw faster than anybody and he may not even be Fox Post 2’s most talented pitcher. Polytech High grad Joey Haass (3-1, 1.84 ERA) is headed to the University of Delaware on a partial baseball scholarship.

But Turner is 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA. As much as anything, the righthander is just good at almost always giving his team a chance to win.

“He is going to take you deep into the game every time,” said Quirk. “He’s not going to give up cheap runs. He fields his position well. He doesn’t walk people. He’s the Greg Maddux-type that just keeps you in the game.”

Turner has never been a kid who tries to strike everybody out. He knows his strengths and weaknesses.

“I’ve never thrown the hardest out of everybody,” said Turner, who had a 3-1 record and 2.50 ERA as a senior at Dover. “But I’ve always been able to locate all three of my pitches. This year I’ve just tried to focus on that — throwing to contact, locating my pitches and getting outs.

“No doubt, our defense has been great this year. Obviously, when I’m on the mound, they know the ball is going to be coming to them. They’re always in the game.”

In a sport where pitching is always big, just having enough available arms is huge in the American Legion state tourney. The league expands games from seven to nine innings in the tournament.

Making the situation even more difficult is the mandatory 120-pitch limit now in use.

Besides Turner and Haass, Fox Post 2 has Dover High’s Noah Lanouette (3-2, 3.50 ERA). It also has former Senator and current Delaware State standout Garrett Lawson.

But while Lawson is batting .452 with 15 runs scored and 16 RBI, the lefthander has pitched only a handful of innings this summer while he works through an arm injury.

“We’re going to need them all,” Quirk said about his pitching staff. “If you’re going to play four or five games in a couple days then you’re playing every day. Your pitching gets eaten up pretty quick.”

Turner knows this season will be the end of his American Legion career. He’ll be too old next summer — by just one day.

Heading to the University of Delaware in the fall, he might try out for the Blue Hens’ club team. But he hopes, one way or another, he still has a few more years of pitching left in him.

Turner, though, knows he’s fortunate to have pitched in some big games since he was little.

“Playoffs are always a fun time,” said Turner. “You get to compete against the best players in the state. I’ll be ready for it, I can’t wait.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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