Junior pitcher Andy Mayer remembers his first collegiate start vividly. There he was standing on the mound in the bottom of the 1st inning, preparing to face nationally ranked Wake Forest University, a team with two All-Americans who regularly compete with the nation’s best on the Atlantic Coast Conference stage.
Up steps the Demon Deacons leadoff hitter, Austin Jones. After a tough battle Jones works the count to three balls and two strikes. Andy gains his composure, rears back, fires and Jones crushes the pitch over the right-center field fence for a home run. “Welcome to college baseball Andy,” Mayer said to himself. Mayer rebounded after that game and went on to lead the team in wins, games started and innings pitched his freshman year.
Growing up in nearby Trumbull, Conn. Mayer played baseball and basketball through most of his youth. When it came to deciding where he wanted to play baseball at a collegiate level, Mayer chose Quinnipiac over Baylor University, Richmond University and the University of Connecticut.
Upon his arrival at Quinnipiac, manager Dan Gooley threw Mayer into the mix right away.
“I was only supposed to get minimal innings my freshman year and maybe get a chance to close the non-conference games. I ended up being a starter with the most wins and innings pitched,” Mayer said.
Right of the bat, Mayer gained an immediate respect for his manager.
“Skip Gooley and I have a good relationship,” Mayer said. “He is all business when it comes to the game, but when we’re off the field he is one to crack a joke and give you advice in every aspect of your life.”
Gooley is also known for being a major advocate of his players being students first and athletes second. Mayer went on to say that Gooley “wants all of his players to get the best education possible and he makes sure that happens.”
Baseball players, maybe more than any athletes, are known for having their eccentricities and superstitions. Mayer refuses to refer to his pre-game rituals as superstitious but more of a routine.
Some of these routine acts include picking up the ball off the mound before each inning in a certain way, a “hat flipping” ritual with junior second baseman Bryn Doyle after the national anthem and using the Hawaiian “hang loose” sign instead of a high five with senior captain and pitcher Tyler Brett.
Superstitious or not, it appears to be working as Mayer is going into the season as the teams number one starter.
“When people find out that I am a baseball player at the Division I level they think I am an outfielder or an infielder because of my size,” Mayer said.
The 5-foot-10, 180 pound Mayer quite easily stood out against the rest of the pitching staff last season, which included four pitchers ranging from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-7.
“I guess when it’s all said and done, it comes down to the ball. I am throwing off the same mound with the same ball. I might have a small baseball figure, but the drive and desire I have to play the game is very large,” Mayer said with a laugh.
This upcoming season the Bobcats are picked second in the NEC preseason poll. Mayer believes that his Bobcats are the most talented team top to bottom in the conference and that their biggest obstacle is themselves.
“If we all play to our potential, you will see Quinnipiac taking on Monmouth in the NEC championships in a few months,” Mayer said.
As a pitcher, Mayer attributes the bulk of his success to mental toughness.
“The reason why it is so hard to be a pitcher is because you only get one shot every four or five days to perform at your best. If you have a great outing you can’t feel too good about yourself because in five days you have to go out and do it again,” Mayer said.
When asked what he would like to pursue after college, Mayer responded with a smirk. “If I stay healthy and some scout likes me enough and drafts me, I would certainly pursue baseball at the professional level. If that did not work out, I would one day like to sneak my way down to Wall Street and work at a firm down there. If I had the chance to help a business or a client, then that’s something I’d like to do.”
After leading his team in wins and posting a 3.20 ERA last season, Wall Street might have to wait a few years for Andy Mayer’s help.