Licking Heights’ Turchan brings baseball to Reitano SportsCenter

PATASKALA — It is not quite Field of Dreams, but Greg Turchan hopes it is not long before baseball players are coming by the dozen.

Turchan, the Licking Heights varsity baseball coach, is hosting clinics each of the next four Mondays at Reitano SportsCenter. The facility recently opened on U.S. 40 just west of Mink Road.

“We have a couple kids in here we’ve seen in the summer time (playing with my son) and word of mouth, so it’s friends and family for now,” Turchan said. “Hopefully, eventually we will have a bunch of kids who we can’t identify because they are all new. It’s been a good first week.”

The facility currently is set up for basketball, and a Black Friday camp is scheduled. AAU opportunities also are planned.

Licking Heights baseball coach Greg Turchan teaches youth player Jacob Virost, 7, how to catch a fly ball during an indoor youth baseball camp at Reitano SportsCenter's new facility on National Road in Etna.

Licking Heights baseball coach Greg Turchan teaches youth player Jacob Virost, 7, how to catch a fly ball during

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Shohei Ohtani is breaking baseball

100 years after Babe Ruth bent the sport of baseball to his will, Shohei Ohtani — who takes the mound tonight against the Red Sox — has broken it entirely.

Driving the news: Next week in Denver, Ohtani will compete in the Home Run Derby, start at DH for the AL and take the mound after becoming the first player ever named an All-Star as both a pitcher and position player.

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By the numbers: You can’t scroll Twitter or turn on “SportsCenter” without seeing a new Ohtani stat, but in case you’ve missed it, here’s a snapshot of his nightly heroics.

  • Hitting: He leads the league in HR (31), SLG (.704), 3B (4) and bunt hits (4), and he’s the first AL player ever with 31 HR and 12 steals before the All-Star

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South Wolverines baseball coach Taylor Nerland chases his dad in the win column as he begins his 6th season

Steve Nerland became a baseball fan when he was 13 or 14 and his family moved from Fairbanks to Anchorage in the 1960s. Now 70, Nerland remembers forging a connection with the game through the Armed Forces Radio Network, which served Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base.

“They broadcast a game of the day from different venues,” he said, “… and I started listening to baseball.”

Fast forward one generation, replace AM radio with cable TV, and the game captures the love of another Nerland boy.

“I can just remember growing up, he had SportsCenter on and ESPN on all the time,” 38-year-old Taylor Nerland said. “As a kid you kind of rebelled a little bit against it — ‘Aghh, SportsCenter again’ — but I’d find myself at the kitchen table watching highlights at 10 o’clock before going to bed. You find yourself wanting to see more.”

Taylor Nerland

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Raines baseball highlight makes ESPN

It’s not every day that Jacksonville high school baseball gets the SportsCenter treatment.

So Tuesday night’s highlight was one to remember at Raines.

Raines shortstop Nick Joyner picked up a moment of fame in Tuesday night’s High School Heritage Classic, the baseball contest against Ribault that not only raises the curtain for the prep season but celebrates the legacy of the Jacksonville Red Caps, now officially recognized as the city’s first team with major league status.

Joyner produced the night’s biggest highlight, racing backward from the infield for a twisting, diving catch behind second base in the Vikings’ 16-5 victory to retain the A. Philip Randolph Cup.

The result: By the next morning, his catch made it onto the SportsCenter Top 10 for ESPN. 

Raines scored six runs in the fourth to pull away in the game, which had been rescheduled after a rain-out early in February.

Bishop Kenny's Jasmyne Roberts (24) shoots over Lake Highland Prep guard Eleecia Carter in the FHSAA girls basketball state semifinal in Lakeland on February 25, 2021.

BK’s Roberts

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