Trea Turner Throw

Junior shortstop Trea Turner throws the ball during the 3-0 victory over Michigan on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 at Doak Field. Turner was an infielder for the Pack from 2012 to 2014 and currently plays shortstop for the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, topped off by a 7-4 win on Tuesday night in Washington, DC. They will face the winner of the New York Yankees and Houston Astros series, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.

Turner led off the first inning of game four with a single and later scored on an Anthony Rendon sacrifice fly to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. It was the first of seven first-inning runs scored by Washington.

The former NC State shortstop went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and one run in the series-clinching game and went 5 for 17 (.294) with two RBIs, three runs and one walk. Turner was sound defensively as well and hasn’t made an error the entire postseason. Through all 10 games the Nationals have played, Turner was 12 for 42 (0.286) with three RBIs, seven runs and three walks.

In the offseason, many speculated the team may be entering a rebuild after it lost Bryce Harper, who many consider one of the top five players in all of baseball. Through the first 50 games of the season, the Nationals were 19-31. At this point in the season, it looked like the critics were right, the Nationals couldn’t win without Harper. The Nationals proved them wrong, though, as they went on to win 74 of their remaining 112 games to make the playoffs as a wild card team.

In the great run they made to get to the postseason, one player who often doesn’t get enough credit is Trea Turner, the former star Wolfpack shortstop. He has a great batting average at .298. Turner also has incredible speed; he was recorded having the fastest speed of any shortstop this season at30.3 miles per hour. He used this speed to steal 35 bases this season. Turner doesn’t just have speed, though; he also bats for power, hitting 19 home runs this season, which ties his personal best from last season.

In the wild card game against the Brewers, the Nationals were down 3-0 after the first 2 innings. Just like all season, they battled back, and just like all season the guy who got things going for them was Turner, with a solo shot to cut the lead to two. In the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals got the break they needed to win. Juan Soto was at bat against closer Josh Hader. Soto hit the ball to right field, which should have only scored one run, but a fielding error by Trent Grisham allowed the Nationals to score three runs which gave them a 4-3 lead. This ended up being the game-winning run. The team went on to beat the Dodgers in the next series 3-2, after being down 2-0 in the series and dominated the Cardinals to reach baseball’s biggest stage: the World Series.

If it had not been for Turner’s incredible regular season as well as his clutch home run in the wild card game, the Nationals would not be still alive in the MLB Playoffs. The Nationals needed someone to step up for them in Harper’s absence, and Turner was the answer.