Marietta College Baseball
Worthington tandem cherish national titles
Kyle Lindquist learned a valuable lesson after the Marietta College baseball team captured the 2011 NCAA Division III championship: During the postgame celebration, don't get stuck at the bottom of the pile.
The 2008 Worthington Kilbourne High School graduate was buried under teammates after he recorded the final out in the Pioneers' 18-5, title-clinching win last year over Chapman.
This year, Lindquist came out of the bullpen to join the festivities after the Pioneers won their second consecutive national title with a 7-2 victory over Wheaton on May 30 in Appleton, Wis.
"This was one of the first dog piles we had when I wasn't pitching," said Lindquist, who has since graduated from Marietta. "After being on the bottom, it was pretty awesome to be on the top."
Making the championships more special for Lindquist was sharing them with classmate and fellow right-handed pitcher Mike Mahaffey, a Worthington resident and 2008 Watterson graduate.
"(Mike and I) have known each other since we were like 10 years old," Lindquist said. "(The celebration) put everything into perspective. It made us realize all the hard work we did was worth it."
"We saw all the seniors last year go out with a national championship," Mahaffey said. "The only way for us to go out was to win another one. We weren't going to have it any other way."
Lindquist, who has signed with the Rockford (Ill.) RiverHawks of the Frontier Professional Baseball League, was 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and seven saves in his senior season for Marietta. He earned saves in a 4-3 win over Heidelberg in the Ohio Athletic Conference championship game May 12 and in a 7-3 win over Manchester in the Mideast Regional final May 20. He also got the win in a 6-5, 10-inning victory over Wheaton in a national quarterfinal May 29.
In four appearances with the RiverHawks through July 17, Lindquist had a 5.68 ERA in 6 1/3 innings.
Mahaffey was 7-2 with a 3.75 ERA in his final season for Marietta. He went 8 1/3 innings for the win in a 6-3 victory over Manchester in a regional semifinal May 19 and pitched eight innings in a 5-0 win over St. Thomas in a national semifinal May 30.
As high school seniors, Lindquist and Mahaffey planned to play together at Marietta. But they ended up taking different paths to get there.
"We were planning to room together our freshman year, but then Kyle told me he was going to play at Ohio Wesleyan," Mahaffey said. "I was like, 'Well, I don't know if I want to go to Marietta now.'"
Mahaffey then enrolled at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C. A week after he registered for classes, Lindquist called to say he had changed his mind and was going to Marietta after all.
"Oh geez, it took me forever to decide. I didn't know where I wanted to go," Lindquist said.
After he finally picked Marietta, "Mike was definitely not happy."
Mahaffey was the USA-South Rookie Pitcher of the Year as a freshman at Methodist, going 2-4 with 45 strikeouts and a 4.56 ERA in 47 1/3 innings. However, he said he wasn't happy and Lindquist encouraged him to transfer to Marietta.
"I kept telling him, 'Dude, we're nasty. You need to come on board,'" said Lindquist, whose team finished 32-17 after losing to Wooster 4-3 in a 2009 regional final.
"It was the best decision I've ever made," Mahaffey said of transferring.
He said he turned the corner in his junior year after being suspended during a season-opening trip to Memphis, Tenn.
"We were having batting practice and I ran out to the outfield and then I walked about five steps," Mahaffey said. "(Coach Brian Brewer) yelled to me, 'Do we walk onto a baseball field?' I said, 'No, coach.' Then he said, 'Then why are you walking?' He made me run (from foul pole to foul pole). When Brewer said I was kind of jogging instead of sprinting, he told me to leave practice."
After Mahaffey apologized the next day, Brewer reinstated him for a trip to Florida.
"That changed my career," said Mahaffey, who went 3-0 as a junior. "I was in the doghouse for the rest of that year, but it made me work that much harder."
Also that year, Lindquist saved 12 games, which is Marietta's season record.
"(To be a good closer) you have to have the mentality that every pitch is important," Lindquist said. "Your outings can go from great to awful on one pitch."
That mentality has helped him adjust to the minor leagues. Lindquist allowed a solo home run in a 5-2 loss to the Gateway Grizzlies on July 7.
"That's been the biggest thing I've noticed about the minor leagues," said Lindquist, whose 28 career saves are a Marietta record. "When you make a mistake they are right there to make you pay for it. You have to get ahead and throw strikes. That's how you are going to be successful."