Baldwin Wallace University Junior Third Baseman/ Pitcher Mike Turchan

Staying on Top of His Game

By Sports Information Student Assistant Adam Fabrizi

BEREA, OHIO -- Whether it is at the plate, in the field, on the mound or taping the ankle of a Yellow Jacket student-athlete, Baldwin Wallace University junior third baseman Mike Turchan (Mayfield High School) has no problem staying on top of his game.

Turchan, an athletic training major who would like to be an athletic trainer and teacher, had an outstanding baseball spring break trip to Ft. Myers, Florida and was honored by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association as one of two honorable mention picks for NCBWA Hitter of the Week honors.

Playing in the Gene Cusic Classic over spring break in Ft. Myers, Turchan started 10 games, eight at third base and two as a starting pitcher, as BW finished 8-2 overall, including wins against 10th-ranked Wooster, 17-11, and versus Albion (Mich.), 4-3.

"Mike Turchan is an outstanding young man who has his priorities in the right place, is a grounded person and handles every situation with class," said Yellow Jacket Head Wrestling Coach Rich Fleming. Turchan aided Fleming this winter as his student athletic trainer.

"Mike gets along with everyone," said Fleming. "He has an easy-going personality. And, when the times comes that he has to be serious about his work, he is very serious. Our student-athletes respected Mike a great deal because of the way he handled himself and them. We appreciated his efforts."

In 10 games, Turchan batted .595 with 18 runs scored, seven doubles, a triple, five homeruns and 19 runs batted-in. He had a 1.243 slugging average and a .643 on base average. He also had a 2-0 pitching record with and 4.15 earned run average and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched. And, Turchan did not commit an error in eight games at 3B and two as a pitcher and with 19 total chances (17 assists).

For his efforts, Turchan was also tabbed as the Ohio Athletic Conference Baseball Co-Hitter of the Week. He was honored for his efforts while on the annual spring break southern trip. Since returning north, BW and Turchan have played in one varsity game and he was two-of-six at the plate with a triple in a 2-0 loss in 15 innings.

Turchan’s talented and athletic ways have been a part of his game for quite some time. In fact, his prowess dates back to his senior year at Mayfield High School when he batted .435 with three homers and 37 RBI. He also collected a 7-1 record on the mound with a 1.80 earned run average. Turchan was also the Western Reserve Conference Player of the Year, Cuyahoga County Player of the Year and was selected to both the Lake County News-Herald and The Plain Dealer "Best of the Best".

From the first time he stepped foot onto the BW campus, Turchan has been making his presence felt in more than one way. Besides being a standout baseball player, he also serves as a student athletic trainer for the Yellow Jacket athletic training program. This year, Turchan helped with the football team in the fall and the wrestling team in the winter.

During his freshman campaign, Turchan split time between the junior varsity and varsity teams, appearing in nine varsity games. In 17 at-bats, he managed a .588 batting average (10 of 17) with a homer and 10 RBI. He also scored 11 runs and was 1-0 on the mound in seven relief appearances. Turchan was subsequently named as the Yellow Jacket Freshman of the Year. That season, BW finished 25-12-2 overall and tied the single-season school record for wins in a season. That mark is a goal for Turchan and the rest of this year’s squad.

"Mike had outstanding freshman and sophomore seasons," said veteran Yellow Jacket Head Baseball Coach Dr. Robert Fisher, the winningest baseball coach in BW history with 586 career victories. "Each season, Mike has grown in the program and become a better player.

"We knew when Mike came to BW that he was a very talented young man in terms of his academics and athletics," said Fisher. "He was an outstanding baseball and football player at Mayfield High School, and he had excellent grades too.

"At BW, Mike continues to achieve and excel in the classroom and on the field," continued Fisher. "He is a well-respected young man. That is why he is a team co-captain as a junior. Mike is respected by the coaching staff and his teammates. He is quite a ball player too."

"Our primary goal every season is to reach the OAC Tournament," said Turchan. "We have reached the tournament the last two years and have not won a title (BW was second in 2002 and fourth in 2003). This year we want to get back to the tournament and show everyone in the conference why we are one of the top teams year-in and year-out. Also, in the last two years we have been close to setting the school record for wins in a season, so it would be nice to surpass the 25-win mark this year."

As a sophomore, Turchan started in all 40 games and batted .356 with 12 doubles, two triples, five homers and 35 RBI. On the mound, he had a 4-3 record in 12 appearances, including eight starts, and tied for the team-lead with four saves. Turchan helped BW compile a 24-17 record.

"I loved being the closer last year," said Turchan, who is strictly a starter this year except in emergencies. "Being the pitcher, you are in control of the game and there is no better feeling than being in control when the game is on the line. Being a closer is a lot of pressure. In pressure situations my confidence level increases. I know being confident helps to make me more successful. I just love the challenge."

So, why is Turchan a starter this year?

"I am lucky this year," said Turchan. "Aaron Krieger (junior lefthander from Bellefontaine) is our closer. He has great command on the mound and is well on his way to setting all of the save records for BW baseball. That has helped me to concentrate more on hitting, being a starter and on defense.

"In addition, Dale Koler (senior lefthanded ace from Brunswick) is the backbone and ace of our pitching staff," continued Turchan. "Dale has been our ace all four years and could be considered the ace of the OAC. He also serves as a co-captain and will be the sparkplug to get us back to the OAC Tournament for my third consecutive year. That also takes a lot of pressure off of me when I pitch too."

Prior to the 2004 season, the Yellow Jackets selected Turchan as a co-captain along with Koler. Something that probably wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to many, but it was both a surprise and an honor to Turchan.

"I felt very honored to be selected a co-captain this year by my teammates," said Turchan. "I am glad I can share my advice with younger players as well as the guys I have played with for the last two years. We are all working toward a common goal -- winning the OAC title."

"Mike earned the honor," said fellow co-captain Koler. "He is a great hitter, an outstanding pitcher and an excellent defensive player. When I am on the mound and he is at third base, I hope every batter hits the ball his way, because he will just eat it up and throw them out. Mike makes life easy for a pitcher.

"In terms of leadership, Mike is well-respected by every member of the team," said Koler. "He leads by-example. He works hard every day in practice, no matter what drill we are working. Mike takes the game of baseball very seriously, and that has rubbed off on all of us. It is a priviledge to play on the same team as Mike Turchan."

Not only is he an outstanding leader, Turchan also is capable of playing more than one position and being successful at the same time. Evidence is his .423 career batting average and 7-3 record on the mound during his career as a Yellow Jacket. Defensively, Turchan has only committed eight errors over the past two plus years for a .945 fielding percentage.

"On the mound I have to be smart," said Turchan. "I have to read the hitter and recognize his strengths and weaknesses. It is crucial to change speeds and paramount to spot pitches. I want to keep batters off balance and guessing all game long.

"In the field, I have to be a step ahead of the game by invisioning where the ball is going next and what my role is on that play," said Turchan. "It also helps to let instincts and natural ability take over on the field.

"At the plate I have to be patient and relaxed," said Turchan. "I try to work counts in my favor and attack pitches in my zone. I always try to maintain a high level of confidence to be successful at the plate."

With Turchan helping to lead the way in 2004, the potential for the young squad is high. As long as everyone continues to work toward their goal of an OAC Championship, nothing is out of reach.

"Everyone worked hard in our fall and winter practices and are deserving of solid seasons," said Turchan. "I think our spring trip is a great reflection of the hours we all put in. This club is young, talented, and extremely athletic. We all are trying to take one game at a time."

The Yellow Jackets get back to action on Monday (April 5, 2004) when they travel to New Concord to play Muskingum College in an Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader at 1:00 p.m. BW then returns home to face Cleveland cross-town rival Case Western Reserve University in a single nine-inning game on Tuesday (April 6) at 3:30 p.m.

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