Ledyard's Turner enjoying Cape experience before starting new journey at Bryant
Bourne, Mass. — This is just what Ken Turner needed after a tumultuous spring season.
Turner, a two-time all-state pitcher during his Ledyard High School days, is soaking in the summer baseball experience in his first stint pitching in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the country's most prestigious collegiate wooden bat league.
He's a member of the West-Division leading Bourne Braves, playing before big crowds like Sunday's roughly 900 fans on a beautiful night at Doran Park, the team's home field located behind Upper Cape Technical High School.
"I'm having a great summer," Turner said before Sunday's game.
His sophomore season at the University of Hartford was far from great.
Stunning news broke that Hartford planned to gradually downgrade its athletic program from Division I to Division III. It negatively affected the baseball team's performance.
Turner struggled to find any consistency. He said he didn't feel comfortable on the mound, leading to a 6.99 earned run average in seven appearances.
"It was definitely a little heartbreaking," Turner said of Hartford's decision. "It definitely distracted us a little bit. We tried to push it aside and pretend it wasn't true. But when the news came about that we were officially going to be going to Division III in a few years, you could tell everyone's morale dropped a little bit and affected the way things were at school."
Turner is in a better place now, and it shows in his performances. Bourne pitching coach Eddie Marko, who once worked with Chris Sale, has helped Turner iron out some wrinkles.
A 6-foot-4 righthander from North Stonington, Turner started the summer off with four straight scoreless appearances covering 6.1 innings, walking one and striking out five.
Overall, he's 0-1 with a solid 3.25 earned run average in eight appearances, including three starts. He's given up 24 hits, struck out 18 and walked five in 19.1 innings.
"I'm doing much better here on the Cape than last spring (at Hartford)," Turner said. "I fixed some things mechanically a little bit and worked on my stride and worked on getting more into my legs than I was in the spring.
"Took about two weeks off from throwing in between the spring season and here to give my body and arm a rest. I think that really helped out."
The CCBL's chill atmosphere also helped Turner, who was selected in the 20th round of the 2019 Major League Draft by the Texas Rangers but opted for college.
Crowds are generally supportive. Fans at Sunday's game remained positive even when Bourne allowed nine runs in the fifth inning in a 10-3 loss to Wareham.
"It's definitely laid-back a lot here," Turner said. "Everyone dreams of playing in the Cape Cod League. Once I got here, I was a little bit nervous. Then I got more comfortable the more appearances I got. That definitely helps a lot.
"And I have great teammates here. It's a great experience. ... Winning definitely makes the experience better."
Turner has been the victim of some bad luck, as only seven of the 18 runs that he's allowed have been earned.
Take Sunday against Wareham.
Coming out of the bullpen in the top of the fourth inning, Turner pitched a scoreless, hitless inning before running into trouble in the fifth. An infield single started a big outburst and a two-out error extended the rally.
In his worst outing of the summer, Turner lasted 1.2 innings, departing after allowing six hits and six runs, including just two earned.
Overall, it's been Bourne's best season in recent years. The Braves opened the season with an 11-game unbeaten streak. Prior to Monday's action, they owned a 23-8 record and clinched the top seed in the West Division for the first time since 2014.
The playoffs begin on Friday. Turner is hoping for a deep postseason run.
He's in no hurry to leave the Cape.
During his limited free time, he squeezed in some beach days and attended a Red Sox game.
He has a wonderful host family, staying with Rich and April Tedeschi.
"Great people," Turner said. "They've made me feel comfortable and made sure I get what I need."
He also appreciates competing in a league with such a rich history.
"Oh my goodness, just the names that you see of people that have played in this league and then become Hall of Famers," Turner said. "It's crazy to think that I've put myself in a position to play in the same league as some of those guys. It's awesome."
When the Cape League season ends, Turner will head home for a short break before starting a new journey at Bryant University. He transferred there as did his now former Hartford teammate Jared Burrows, a pitcher from Waterford playing for the Mystic Schooners in the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer.
Turner will be a junior and Burrows a sophomore, academically, this fall.
"He committed a week before I did," Turner said. "I had no idea he had been talking to that school. It's kind of cool having two local guys go to Hartford together and now going to Bryant together. I like Jared a lot. He's a great teammate."
"I'm super pumped to play with him."
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