John Turlais could have given up and went back to Harvard full time after he was released by three different major league organizations in the last five years.
He could have resolved himself to finishing up his undergraduate work, could have begun sizing up the navy blue pinstripe suit and attache case, could have been practicing law by now if he just decided to succumb to the rejection and pack it in.
But Turlais believes he can play this game, and by making the most of the precious at-bats he now is being afforded, he thinks maybe he'll keep on wearing only Augusta green pinstripes for a while.
After Macon tied the game at 1-1 in the ninth inning Saturday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium, Turlais stroked a double down the right-field line in the bottom of the ninth, sending Morgan Walker barreling into catcher Fernando Lunar all the way from first base for the game-winner, in a 2-1 GreenJackets triumph.
"It's fun to win, for me it's just fun to be playing," said the 23-year-old Augusta catcher, who is 8-for-12 since joining the Jackets on Thursday, after he managed only five hits in 30 at-bats as a backup at advanced-Class A Lynchburg. "I didn't get too many opportunities to play much in Lynchburg so, even though it was a demotion for me, I was glad to be coming to Augusta to get the chance to get in the lineup."
The Braves' late comeback and Turlais' heroics overshadowed a brilliant seven-inning performance by Augusta starter Aaron France and a towering home run to the right-field corner in the fifth inning by Charles Rice that gave the Jackets a lead that seemed certain to hold up.
South Atlantic League All-Star closer David Daniels took over for France in the eighth and, after the Jackets turned their third double play of the game to erase a one-out single by Braves pinch hitter Jarred Wong and end the inning, Daniels found trouble in the ninth.
A.D. Thorpe led off the ninth with a single and scored on Jim Scharrer's RBI-single to center field, foiling France's much-deserved victory.
But Walker led off the ninth with a sharp single to left and Turlais, who joined the Jackets from Lynchburg on Thursday along with Walker, drilled his second hit of the night and eighth in four games to help his new club pull one out.
For Turlais, originally drafted by the Pirates in the 10th round of the 1992 draft, his Augusta tear is only part of the reason for his renewed hope.
"I've been released three times and haven't made it past high-A, but I still believe I can play," said Turlais, released by the Pirates in 1993, and later by the Mets and Cubs. He batted .321 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 83 games last season with Tri-City of the independent Western League.
"I got a chance to sign with an independent team and, for the first time, I got a chance to play every day. It's cliched to say, but until you get that chance to play, you never know."
France (3-3), who gave up six runs in his last start against the Braves in a loss June 9, allowed only four hits and two walks while striking out two in his seven innings of shutout ball. He has yet to get a decision in July despite two straight outstanding starts. He has allowed just two earned runs and 10 hits in 132/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 3.39, seventh best among all Pittsburgh farmhands.
Daniels (5-3), who had only pitched more than one inning in 11 of his 37 previous appearances, took the victory, while Macon reliever Billy Blythe (2-3), who pitched the final three innings, took the loss.
"Aaron pitched an incredible game and it was a shame we couldn't get him a win," Turlais said. "He did a great job hitting his spots."
"We got a big win and that's what matters," said the 23-year-old France. "Charlie hit a bomb and we got big hits tonight from Morgan and (Turlais). I'm happy with my outing, they (Macon) are a real good hitting club and the last time I faced them, I got my lunch handed to me."