Randy Mazey on Trusting Young Pitchers: “They’re Gonna Take Their Lumps”
In a sport where failure is more common than success, Mountaineers head coach Randy Mazey has a measured approach to the decisions he makes in-game. If a pitching change doesn’t work in one game, that doesn’t write it off entirely, especially as he tries to help his players develop.
Take Robby Porco, for example. The first-year righty struggled in his first appearance for the Mountaineers on February 18, walking three and giving up two runs in just one out of work.
Freshmen Figuring it Out
How did Mazey react? By giving Porco the start on the road at No. 13 Maryland on February 21.
“They’re gonna take their lumps as freshman…you’ve gotta have a short memory, you’ve gotta be mentally tough,” Mazey said. “Porco is a perfect example. His first outing in Georgia Southern didn’t go very well. But he handled it really well, got the ball again [Tuesday] night, went out and pitched great.”
Porco responded with five innings of two run ball on an economical 81 pitches. He wasn’t the only young hurler to make a huge impact in the game.
Mazey gave redshirt freshman David Hagaman the ball with two on and no outs in the seventh inning. The Mountaineers’ 8-5 lead felt microscopic after Maryland had already plated three runs to open the inning.
Hagaman escaped the jam unscathed, turning in a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. He stayed on for the eighth, managing another scoreless frame despite allowing a pair of base runners with two outs.
Mazey didn’t think twice about throwing the righty into the fire.
“We’ve got a lot of experience with [Hagaman] because he’s been in the program for a year. We’ve watched him develop really nicely over that time…he’s gotten so much better since he’s been here and he’s a guy that we trust in that situation,” Mazey said. “That’s the perfect situation for him to come in. He’s got swing and miss stuff as a pitcher, and he’s very calm when he goes out there…that situation was made for guys like him.”
Hampton’s History Lesson
Mazey’s actions seem daring, but left-hander Ben Hampton can give a better glimpse inside the mind of his head coach after nearly three years in the program. He was the beneficiary of a similar situation in his opening day start against Georgia Southern.
Hampton let the first two runners on in the sixth inning via a walk and a single. His pitch count approaching 80 in the first game of the season, it seemed the perfect time for Mazey to call a mound visit and talk things over with his ace, see what he had left in the tank.
Instead, Mazey allowed Hampton to continue to work, trusting that he could get the job done. Hampton responded by striking out the side. Hampton said that’s par for the course for how Mazey manages.
“Throughout the game he kinda just lets me go on my own and figure things out. If there’s anything that’s really standing out to him he’ll come and talk to me,” Hampton said. “He’s really good at figuring out from where he’s standing what pitches are working for me based on what the hitters are doing, if I’m throwing it for strikes and what pitch I’ve got confidence in.”
Hampton commended his coach for the approach he took.
“He called a really, really good game as always, especially in that sixth inning,” Hampton said. “He noticed my curveball was working really well and the hitters just weren’t seeing it, so [throwing] a majority of curveballs in that sixth helped get me out of that.”