Mike Mahaffey got an opportunity to pitch in the 2011 NCAA Division III World Series at Fox Cities Stadium in Grande Chute, Wis., and he's hoping to get the nod again some time this Memorial Day weekend.
Nothing is guaranteed, though, as the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Marietta College senior and Worthington resident is a member of a very elite staff.
Righties' Austin Blaski, Brian Gasser, Mike Mulvey, and probably Kyle Lindquist are Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 in the rotation, respectively, and most assuredly will be handed the ball before Mahaffey gets a start.
That's just the way it is.
That's how it was in the Mideast Regional at Don Schaly Stadium.
Last Saturday, Mahaffey got to toe the rubber in MC's sixth game of the tournament against Manchester (Ind.) College, and he and Pioneers responded by winning 6-3, extending the event to a winner-take-all showdown on Sunday.
"There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff," said Marietta skipper Brian Brewer after Mahaffey's pitching performance against Manchester.
After Mulvey pitched MC to a 9-5 triumph over Washington & Jefferson, Brewer was leaning towards Mahaffey to throw against Adrian College in the Pioneers' second elimination game of the day, but said he needed to consult with his assistants.
Turns out, Lindquist, the team's closer, got the start, and Marietta beat the Bulldogs, 11-4. So, it worked out for the best.
Next up was St. John Fisher, the only team to have defeated Marietta in the tournament, in yet another elimination game on Saturday, May 19. Certainly, Mahaffey would get the start, right?
But...no, he didn't.
Blaski, the best pitcher in the country, was brought back on two days rest, and he got the 9-2 win.
"Mike was ready to pitch against Adrian, and emotionally that can take a toll on you, you know," Brewer said. "The emotional up and down, you can very easily lose focus, and physically it can wear you out.
"He just maintained his composure, emotions and came out today (vs. Manchester). He could've very easily thrown the first game (vs. St. John Fisher), but just stayed where he needed to stay mentally, stayed where he needed to be physcially, and was just spectacular (vs. Manchester)."
Spectacular after the opening inning.
Mahaffey nearly didn't get out of the first frame as Manchester roughed him up for two runs. It could've been a lot worse, but he and the Pioneers hung in there.
"Mike wasn't bad in the first inning," Brewer said. "It was just more pitch selection where the mistakes were made. He was still locating and throwing it where he wanted it. It just wasn't where we wanted it.
"From the second inning on, he got on the same page as us and Alex (Toth, catcher). And with our book on their hitters, he executed terrifically."
Mahaffey threw seven scoreless innings after a shaky first, and Marietta came back to claim the win.
"Good teams answer, and we were fortunate enough to do that," Brewer said. "And I'm sure that settled Mike down. When he gets into a rythym and gets going a little bit, he's tough."
Last year, Mahaffey, a transfer from Methodist (N.C.) after his freshman year, was named to the World Series All-Tournament team, thanks to pitching and beating Keystone (Pa.), 11-2.
It remains to be seen if Mahaffey, who possesses a good fastball and curve, pitches again in 2012 postseason play. Certainly, he'll be well-rested if he does.
If he doesn't throw, well...that's got to be OK, too, as long as Marietta repeats as national champion.
After all, that's what it's all about - the team winning.
Editor's note: Mahaffey did get to pitch - in relief - in MC's World Series opening win against Whitworth.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org'