Mayers delivers in clutch for Ole Miss
Half of the six wins posted this past season by Mike Mayers could be considered defining moments for the University of Mississippi baseball team.
In a Southeastern Conference game April 7, the 2010 Grove City High School graduate pitched into the eighth inning as the Rebels defeated Kentucky, at the time ranked No. 1 in the nation, 9-3 to snap the Wildcats' 21-game home winning streak.
Mayers allowed eight hits but routinely escaped trouble.
"I was impressed with Mike today," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco told reporters after the game. "He never flinched when we told him he was going to get the start today. And as a coach, you have to feel good about that."
Mayers pitched seven innings when the Rebels defeated Arkansas 2-0 in an SEC tournament game May 23 in Hoover, Ala. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander struck out eight, walked one and scattered five hits.
Mayers recorded a career-high nine strikeouts and surrendered just three hits in 6 1/3 innings to lead Ole Miss past Texas A&M 6-3 in an NCAA regional game June 2 in College Station, Texas.
The Rebels' season ended when Texas Christian won both games in the ensuing best-of-three series, but the sophomore clearly had left his mark as Ole Miss finished 37-26 overall.
"At the beginning of the year I had some rough spots, but the big thing was I continued to learn and continued to grow," said Mayers, who ended the season as the team's No. 2 starter. "I kept working hard, and by the end of the year it really had paid off for me."
Hard work is nothing new for Mayers, who finished with a 6-3 record and 3.50 ERA. He appeared in 17 games and made 15 starts, striking out 71 with 30 walks in 92 2/3 innings. Opponents batted .222 against him, and his six victories ranked second on the team behind Bobby Wahl (7-4). As a freshman in 2011, Mayers went 1-0 with a 5.10 ERA in 20 appearances, mostly in relief.
"He has one of the best work ethics I've even seen," Grove City coach Ryan Alexander said. "He's an unreal kid. I've heard from a lot of scouts that he could be a (major league) draft pick next year as a junior."
After returning home from Mississippi recently, Mayers barely had 36 hours to catch up with family and friends before leaving again. He made a brief appearance at a youth camp at the high school before departing June 14 for Bourne, Mass., where he was to begin play for the Bourne Braves in the 10-team Cape Cod League. Mayers spent last summer playing in another wooden-bat league, the 14-team Coastal Plains League.
"That was a great experience," he said. "It was kind of my first dose of pro-ball life. We had four-hour bus rides and played almost every day. It was pretty cool, but there were a lot of long days and nights. The nice thing about the Cape Cod League is that all the teams are located about 30 minutes from each other."
Mayers is one of three seniors from Grove City's 2010 team who earned a chance to play at the Division I college level. Alexander said Joe Ford recently signed with Wright State. Ford, an infielder, attended Sinclair Community College in Dayton for two years following graduation, batting .335 with 55 runs and 22 RBI this spring. Tyler Raymond, a first baseman, signed with Kentucky out of high school.
Mayers, who compiled an 18-6 record in three varsity seasons at Grove City, is the first member of that trio to make a big name for himself.
"Playing in the major leagues, that's obviously a dream I have. Playing any pro sport is the dream for an athlete," said Mayers, a business finance major. "To be 20 years old and to still have that dream, that's awesome."