Lexington Regional

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

West Virginia Mountaineers

Coach Randy Mazey

J.J. Wetherholt

Logan Sauve

Aidan Major

Postgame Press Conference


West Virginia – 13, Ball State – 5

COACH MAZEY: Hey, guys. Much happier to see you guys today, right? We hadn’t felt this good in a little while. But told the guys after the game yesterday, I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve seen a lot of teams that lost the first game of a Regional, came back and win it. You can’t do that until you win one.

If you’re going to lose a game in the Regional and win it through the losers’ bracket, actually the game to lose is game one. If you can win game two, now our next game we’ll be playing somebody who feels like we did yesterday coming off a loss. And our guys are coming off a win.

So just naturally you’re going to feel better going into that game. And if you can win the next one and it turns into a doubleheader situation, then you just look for heroes, man. In a tournament like this, you have to have heroes that you weren’t expecting to be heroes.

So that could come from anybody. So we have a team full of guys who will go to bed tonight expecting to be a hero in the next couple of days. We’re feeling pretty good right now.

Q. J.J., can you talk about your home run and what you were looking for in that first pitch?

J.J. WETHERHOLT: Honestly, I just felt pretty comfortable off of him off my first at-bat. I was seeing his stuff pretty well. I was just looking for anything to hit and thankfully he gave me the best pitch to hit first pitch. And that was pretty much it. Just see something good over the plate and put a good swing on it.

Q. Aidan, really good outing for you today. What was the difference and what do you think made you so successful out there?

AIDAN MAJOR: The difference for me today was starting ahead of hitters. I think, I haven’t looked at it officially yet or anything, but I think there’s only two hitters the entire outing that I was behind in the count, maybe three.

But being able to get ahead and get to my off-speed stuff and be ahead and be able to set the next pitch up with whatever that pitch is was huge for me today.

Q. Aidan, walk me through what your repertoire is, what you feel you had working best today?

AIDAN MAJOR: Repertoire for me is fastball, slider, changeup. And really today all three were working today. I was able to go to any of the three in any count. Whether it was — up, down, even. It didn’t matter.

Definitely starting ahead really helped me, being able to land the changeup and the slider early in counts and being able to show the fastball late.

It’s kind of what we tried to do all year. And today I was able to execute and we were on the same page all day. So that was a huge help.

Q. Logan, yesterday, hitting at the bottom of the order, near the bottom of the order, had some really good at-bats. Today you were bumped up and you were a big part of today’s win. Does it change your approach where you’re hitting in the order, or do you have the same methodology each time you go to the plate?

LOGAN SAUVE: I would say I have the same method going in every at-bat. At the end of the day it’s just a game. So wherever Coach puts me in the lineup, I just try to execute and do my job.

Q. Logan, when you hear about this change, does that spark any thoughts? Do you talk to anybody, or how do you handle that?

LOGAN SAUVE: I didn’t know until they put the lineup up right when we got in the dugout. We don’t know anything. We don’t talk to anybody until game time.

Q. Logan, can you talk about your home run? You just tied the game, you have Tevin out there. What was your approach and how did you get it opposite field like that?

LOGAN SAUVE: My first two at-bats weren’t good. I watched a lot of pitches. I went into my third at-bat just be aggressive. When I got a fastball, just jump on it. And I did.

Q. J.J., when they jump out with another big inning, is there any feeling of, oh, man, here this goes again? No matter how games have gone, they’re trending in the same way. Any thought of that?

J.J. WETHERHOLT: I think you can think about that for about five seconds, look at it like that, like, oh my, this stinks. But once you get in the dugout to hit, the inning is over, turn the scoreboard over and have good at-bats. And we did a good job at doing that.

Q. Did you notice the wind? Obviously yesterday and today, it’s blowing out to right field. You can get it out there and it’s going to ride it a little bit. Does it change what you’re looking for sometimes?

J.J. WETHERHOLT: We try not to play into the wind because it’s too hard to control exactly where you’re going to hit it.

Thankfully a lot of our lofted stuff was to right field, so that was a good sign. It kind of helped us out. But we’re not thinking, the wind is blowing to right, let’s hit it to the right.

Q. Was there any point in this game where you looked at each other, this is the team like we played like the first three-fourths of there season?

LOGAN SAUVE: I think so. Just walking through the dugout you could tell our energy was a lot better today. And once we jumped up by five, six, seven runs, everybody knew this is the team we were.

J.J. WETHERHOLT: To add to that, I think after the game doing like our winning handshakes and stuff we haven’t done that in a while, that’s where it clicked this is what it feels like to win again. That’s what we’ll be going for tomorrow.

Q. Coach talked about different pitchers on the staff understanding their roles. (Indiscernible) and yours bounced around a little bit sometimes this year. Is there a process you went through to realize, hey, this is what I’d rather do to help this team be successful?

AIDAN MAJOR: Yes, it’s just going to work every single day. There’s always something you can get better at. There’s always something can you do to get more comfortable, whatever it might be, whether it’s a start or relief, close. I’ve done it all.

It’s about doing the same thing, sticking to the same routine, sticking with what’s worked in the past. And sometimes it’s going to work. Sometimes it’s not going to work. So just sticking to it and today was a good day for me.

Q. Was that a hero performance out of Aidan, and only got three innings out of Ben, for him to come in pitch for five —

COACH MAZEY: Sure was. We pitched Hagaman and Reed yesterday. So ideally you wouldn’t want to pitch either of those guys today, give them a day’s rest so they can be the hero tomorrow.

So not just winning the game but saving all those other guys at the back of the bullpen was really important. That’s kind of a unique role for him. What he did today is what he’s done a bunch this year, come in when the starter gets in a little bit of trouble.

He’s got a history of being the starting pitcher so he can get into a pretty deep pitch count. So bringing him in in the third or fourth and expecting him to finish the game is something he’s pretty capable of doing.

Q. You mentioned yesterday’s game you were going to consider jumping the batting order around. When you go through identifying that, was it matchups, obviously recent performance a little bit? What made you settle on Logan prop him up to the 2-spot?

COACH MAZEY: He’s been pretty steady. You’ve seen him play. He’s hit so many balls to the warning track this year. He could really have eight or 10 homers. He normally doesn’t strike out much. He can hit the ball behind runners when they’re on first or second.

He really is a prototypical 2-hole guy for those reasons. He doesn’t reason great. But we just want to get our best hitters to the plate as much as you can.

If you look at over the course of the season, the guys that hit first and second in the lineup will get 15 or 20 more at-bats than the guys that hit at the bottom just because the game has to end at some point and somebody gets left in the on-deck circle.

He’s swinging a pretty hot bat. And thankfully Abner Doubleday made the field 90 degrees today. If he would have made it 75 degrees, some of those balls would have been foul. That right field corner was pretty good to us today. But we’ve done that. He’s done that. Dayne’s done that. Barry’s done that. Wallace has done that. We have some guys with some opposite field power.

Q. Do you feel you have the offense back on track, not with just the home runs but a little more aggressive on the base paths?

COACH MAZEY: You know, we kind of take what they give us. We don’t run just to run, we run when we need to run. There were some opportunities to run today.

Just because you do that changes the way pitchers pitch to you. They get a little worried about a guy on first base and all of a sudden you get a fastball to hit instead of a breaking ball or tries to be too quick to the plate and misses in the middle.

That has a lot to do with why we hit the homers, is the fact we came out running a little bit. Even when J.J. got thrown out in the first inning, at least the pitcher knows, hey, when they get over there I’ve got to pay attention to two things here instead of one. So it helps in a lot of different ways.

Q. Was there a point in this game where the way they were performing kind of reminded you of the team you saw the first 40 some games this season?

COACH MAZEY: When the game ended and the Mountaineers, that reminded me of this season. Because we’ve done that a lot. Haven’t done it a lot lately. But that just feels great to get in that huddle out there again.

About a third of the way into the season, I told them we’re not going to huddle up after we lose a game, because after you lose a game and people are emotional, sometimes you get mad at people and say things you don’t want to say.

So when we lose a game, we don’t huddle up in the outfield like most teams. We wait until the following day until Coach Mazey gets a good night sleep, if he gets one, so I can say the right thing.

We haven’t huddled up much lately. But ever since we started doing that at the midway point, we started winning a lot. But it’s nice to get back together with them again and everybody’s feeling good. Everybody said the same thing. You know, let us win one, you let us win one, we’ll get a chance of getting on a roll here.

I think everybody is feeling good. Dayne Leonard and J.J. both wore each other’s batting practice tops today by accident. So they’ll be doing that again tomorrow. So we’re going to try and stick to the routine that’s working.

Q. You’ll have some scouts thinking J.J. is a switch hitter?

COACH MAZEY: I know, right? I don’t care at this point. (Laughter). It’s pretty easy to identify J.J. when he’s standing in the box.

Q. Good point. Speaking of Dayne, another good showing from him at the plate. What are you seeing from the dugout about his at-bats this weekend?

COACH MAZEY: When you juggle the lineup, you move Logan up from the 9-hole to the 2-spot, that’s a different mentality doing that, and it’s also different for Dayne. Dayne was in our 3 and 4-hole when the season started. You put him down at eighth and it takes some pressure off of him. They don’t have to hit homers in the 8-hole, just have to get on base and do my thing.

And sometimes that works that way too. So you don’t put guys in spots on the lineup for the same reason all the time. You just move them around to take pressure off of them and try and get — never put a slow guy in front of a fast guy, that type of thing.

So I was just about this close to leading J.J. off and putting the other eight names in a hat and just letting them draw it out of there, because it really doesn’t matter because all the guys in our lineup have hit.

Dayne’s hit third, fourth and eighth. Barry hit seventh, hit lead-off, hit third. Our guys, we don’t have superstars, other than J.J. We just have a bunch of guys that are role players and just try and grind out at-bats and get on base.

Some of them are hot some days. Some of them aren’t. But you hope they all get hot at the same time.

Q. Same idea for slot, Tevin back before he started in the 9-hole, take a little bit of pressure off, put him back in the turnaround spot with J.J.?

COACH MAZEY: You know, Tevin’s deal was hitting in front of J.J. If J.J. is second, Tevin’s first, he’s in front of J.J. If J.J. is first, that means Tevin’s ninth. You put him ninth, and he probably takes a deep breath, relaxes, gets on base five times today. So it doesn’t always work that way. But it sure did work out today.

Q. Any idea who you’re pitching tomorrow?

COACH MAZEY: Next question, please. I do not. Aidan Major is not starting tomorrow. We’ll talk about that and see who the options are. But we’ve got — that’s the reason we started a lot of different guys in those mid-week games this year, to give a lot of different guys experience because we knew this day was coming, where somebody was going to have to get a start and you didn’t want it to be their first start.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
133531-1-1045 2023-06-03 20:05:00 GMT

Ball State Cardinals

Coach Rich Maloney

Nick Gregory

Adam Tellier

Ryan Peltier

Postgame Press Conference


West Virginia – 13, Ball State – 5

RICH MALONEY: I think our guys fought hard in both of the games. I thought when we got that rally we had, we had like six hits in a row or something, finally the bats started going.

To West Virginia’s credit, that relief pitcher they brought in, Aidan Major, he was fantastic. We ran into two really good relief pitchers in this tournament that shut us down.

You’ve got to tip your hat off to them. Both of them — Major gave one hit and the guy from Kentucky had no hits through five innings. And we have a pretty good offense. We had 86 home runs this year.

I’ve been doing this a long time. In the 30 years I’ve had this I only had one team that had more homers than that. These guys shut down a pretty potent offense.

But we had our moment. And it is what it is. You’ve got to tip your hat off to them. They stayed the course and they were able to play better than us today.

Q. Adam, you sparked that two-out rally that Coach mentioned with a hustle double out of the box. Were you looking to, or was that something that you just took advantage of the opportunity when it arose?

ADAM TELLIER: I was just trying to get the offense going. Put something in and play hard. I felt like we really took some great at-bats all day as a team. But like I said, even yesterday it was hard to find some green grass to get them in there.

And we just keep the same approach at-bat to at-bat, just put the ball in play, play hard. Like Coach said, 86 home runs this year, normally good things happen for us.

Q. That two-out rally is about as good as it gets offensively for a team, but then West Virginia comes back with a four-spot after that. How hard is it to deal with in the dugout? How do you mentally reset up? You think you got one over on them then they got one over on you.

RYAN PELTIER: In the moment whatever happens during the game we have to dig deep and find a way to respond to things like that. To West Virginia’s credit they responded well to our big rally. After that we weren’t really able to get anything going offensively. So credit to them.

Q. Nick, what made Aidan Major so effective what was difficult about what he was throwing today?

NICK GREGORY: A really good pitcher, like Coach said. I think he threw pitches for strikes. He was effective on getting ahead. Really effective. Threw strikes, got ahead.

Q. As infielders, how do you prepare for the team speed for West Virginia? Seemed pretty similar to Kentucky. Did a good job controlling the running game, but they busted down the line with hard 90s, similar like you guys do. What does it do to your internal clock as infielders? Do you try to stay within yourselves or do things have to speed up for you?

ADAM TELLIER: We practice every day and Coach has the clock on us. He’s always trying to help us gauge our internal clock. It’s something we practice day in and day out. Honestly it doesn’t really matter from Kentucky to West Virginia to even slower teams. It’s something that we work on in the offseason, for sure, and it’s something that we’re prepared for.

RYAN PELTIER: We have a second, third, short role of veterans in the infield. We’ve played a lot of ball in college and we know what kind of runners the hitters are. We have enough experience to kind of know what to do when we get the ball, and our coaches do a good job putting together scouting reports for us.

Q. Assess where this Regional leaves the program, what you feel like your own legacy is to the program and what this meant to Ball State?

RYAN PELTIER: I think it meant a lot to Ball State and to Coach Maloney because he’s been here, I don’t know, 18 years. And this is the first one we came to under him here. He’s had so much success here.

To be able to get on the national — play on the national stage, we weren’t able to show it and get any wins here, but moving forward this is the standard for the teams to come in the future to get here.

And now that the younger guys have experienced this, hopefully they can come back here and do some damage in these Regionals.

Q. From your vantage point in the dugout, what do you think of (indiscernible) Major so far?

COACH MALONEY: I think he had three pitches for strike, and he has a power slider. Our guys were having trouble laying off it. His fastball he’s running at low 90s, up to 93.

I just thought he did a really good job. Our guys didn’t have an answer to that. We didn’t have a lot of good quality at-bats. Before that we had a lot. Even early in the game we had our moments where we hit a couple of liners to third, right off the bat. The third baseman made a great catch on Pelts to start the game.

And later on Justin Conant hit a liner to third. We strung those hits together, which was a real positive. Took the lead.

Shut-down innings we talk about all the time. There’s moments in a game where momentum really carries the game. And we had a shot — we pulled back. We got to a lead. And to West Virginia’s credit, like the boys said, they answered back. We weren’t able to shut them down.

We needed to shut them down at that moment. That was the moment of the game. And you have those, especially when you’re playing high-level baseball. There’s going to be a few moments where either a guy gets a timely hit, the pitcher makes the pitch at the right time. A player makes a play at the right time.

And if you miss those moments, the margins are so tight then the momentum shifts. That was our moment. We had a moment. We just didn’t finish it in that moment.

And to West Virginia’s credit they answered back like the guys did. We’ve done that all year. That’s why we’ve had a successful season is because our team has answered back many times over. Done it to other teams. We go it done to us today.

Q. You talked a little bit yesterday about the first-rounders you’ve had, the success that the program has had. Yet Ryan Peltier is the first Gold Glove player in the history of the program. Probably just played his last collegiate game. What has he meant to the program and to you as a coach?

COACH MALONEY: Well, I would just say all these kids, we — pardon me. We run the program as family. So our culture is tight. It’s probably the strength of our program.

These are tears of joy, not of sadness. You ask kids to buy in. You ask them to give everything they have. You work with them every day. And it’s a result-driven industry. But at the same token, the real result is that, what you’ve just seen.

You saw a kid who came here as a shortstop. We change him into a third baseman. He works his tail off. First couple of years in his career has very limited success. Struggles hitting, is an average fielder, but he keeps grinding it out. We keep working, spending all this time together.

So the infielder — I coach the infielders, so it’s a little different because you get to spend so much time with them. And the passion that I had as a fielder and the coaches I had before me, I try to give that to these kids. And they buy in.

And Ryan, to his credit, developed into this fabulous player. He deserves a shot to play at the next level. But to watch a kid grow from where we get them to where they are now as an older player and to have success like he’s had, it’s extra special.

That’s why you coach. You coach for the relationships. I understand that you’ve got to win and all that — and we’ve won our fair share. But the joy of coaching is seeing guys develop. Seeing them realize their goals. Seeing them develop as great teammates.

In our program we’ve got a 3.4 cumulative grade-point average. So we’re knocking it out of the park in all facets. I’m not saying that as bragging but it’s our culture. The guys buy in, we recruit good kids from good families. They work really hard and for the most part they get a lot better.

Because we don’t get the guy that often is already the polished player. For a mid-major to be really successful, you’ve got to take kids and develop them. And sometimes they develop all at the right time. And sometimes you have them all in the house but they’re not quite developed at the right time.

So we haven’t been able to have the depth that it takes to be over the top. We’ve been close but we just hadn’t — and the NCAA, the way the rules are — it’s tough for Mid-American Conference teams because many times over we had two teams in the league who are really worthy of playing in the tournament but haven’t been given the opportunity.

If you’re only getting one guy in the party all the time — these kids, first time they had experienced it. Had they experienced it two years ago, when we should have got in, in my humble opinion, they might have had a different outcome.

Because it’s always like you’ve got to experience something first. So you’re hoping you defy the odds on that, but the truth of the matter, this is the first time they’ve got to play in this kind of a setting. It was great. It was a great experience. They’ll never forget it.

It was disappointing we didn’t get the result we wanted. But nevertheless I thought we were right there in both the games.

So getting back to Ryan, I just think Ryan’s development, along with the other guys — watching Adam Tellier’s development, when I got him he was 6-3, 150 pounds. He’s a pro prospect now.

These guys have taken second base so many times over, it’s been amazing, hustle plays. Several of them that we’ve had. He didn’t understand your questioning but I know what you’re getting at. That was an awesome play. That’s how he plays.

Pelt did it probably six, seven times himself. But we have a lot of guys that have done that. So I just think that was instinctive, that’s kind of like, we celebrate the fact when they take the base like that.

But to watch Telly grow the way he’s grown. And watch Tex, big Tex, grow as a player — when we recruited him, this tells you something about big Tex. Big Tex, in his first year, we were probably — there’s probably only four or five games left in the first year, I mean four or five weekends. And we were redshirting him. All of a sudden he was showing well in the live hitting and mid-week. Not against mid-week competition, practice.

Then all of a sudden we had an injury or something and I asked Tex, we’ve got a nonconference series coming up. I hate to pitch you now because you’re going to blow a year. But at the same token, maybe you’ll get to pitch 10 innings this year, maybe you won’t. I don’t know. I’m struggling with it. So I asked him, what do you do?

I called his dad up. I called his dad, hey, I’m mixed on this one. The kid’s showing well. He’s developing. Should we do this or not? He said we’ve all got to make this decision together.

Scott told him, the dad said, I wouldn’t do it, to his son. But he said, son, you’ve got to grow into a man now. It’s your call.

Tex told me, I want to pitch. That dude pitched in that weekend and then he went the next four weekends, he started, and then he went all the rest he’s been our starting pitcher. But it’s development.

So what we’re talking about is development here, because like I say, we’re not getting the star player most of the time right out of the chute. We’re getting guys we have to grow.

And we take great pride in it. We’ve done it for a long, long time. And those guys are Tellier, Peltier, Tex and I could talk so many others. That’s what they’ve done.

Q. College baseball in the state of Indiana is in a good place. Two teams here, Indiana State hosting a Regional. Evansville, Purdue, Notre Dame have had their moments in recent years. What’s it mean to you (indiscernible) around Ball State for so long to put Ball State in that conversation, especially with the stadium being fixed up a few years ago, too, a good step for the program. This moment isn’t great but in a way it is. How do you —

COACH MALONEY: Thank you for saying that. We’ve always been recognized nationally because of the top prospects we’ve had. We just haven’t been on the national scene. But we’re well respected in the industry. We’ve beaten a lot of giants, many times over.

With that being said, this was a step that was — it’s uncanny it never happened before this. I mean, it really is. Really strange, because we’ve been in the finals several times over. And it’s been really hard not to be in this party.

But with that being said, this was a big step. And there’s a lot of really good schools in the state of Indiana. And it’s amazing for a state the size it is that it’s produced that much good baseball. And we’re certainly proud of our institution, proud of our players, past, and ones that we currently have.

We had three big leaguers up at one point this year. It’s possible we have four or five. Think about that for a minute. Think about it, for a team that was kind of a little unknown, not too many mid-majors can spout that off.

We have two in the wings right now getting pretty close. And we’ve had up to three. We got two in the Big Leagues right now. I think it’s possible four or five at some point this year, which is really special.

And those guys, by the way, talking about our players, the first-rounders that came to Ball State, all but one of them, Bryan Bullington was the only one that was drafted out of high school. And he was drafted like 38th, 39th round.

So for me it’s great, that means we’ve developed players. And we take pride in developing people because at the end of the day you’re going to play baseball for a period of time. By the time you’re 30 you’re out of baseball, almost 100 percent, if you make it to 30.

The reality life after baseball. That’s why we go to college and teach these kids and teach them to be great teammates. That’s the beauty of coaching. We’re highly competitive. It’s painful right now because we really felt like coming into this we had a real shot.

I think if we win the first game, things bounce a little different, we score in that first inning, maybe, maybe we upset Kentucky. And then all of a sudden you’re in a different place. But that’s the beauty of baseball and we weren’t able to get it done.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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