In baseball, as in life, age comes alongside experience. As the only senior pitchers on the USF baseball team, Tim Mattison and Matt Ingram help school the young Bulls who will rule the mound in the Big East next year.
When in “certain situations,” coach Eddie Cardieri looks to these two players for their experience.
“Seniors Timmy and Matt ‘Bubba’ (Ingram) both provide us leadership, and sometimes it’s more by example than it is anything else,” Cardieri said. “They’ve been in a lot of tight situations and ballgames in their career with us and have done extremely well, and both have had to overcome a lot of adversity along the way.”
Mattison, a Jacksonville native, faced real adversity when he threw out his arm pitching in his hometown on Feb. 21, which led to being red-shirted and eventually an invasive surgery.
“He had Tommy John surgery last March — and that’s not even a year yet — and he’s out there competing, which says a lot for him,” Cardieri said.
But for Mattison, last season is another constant reminder.
“There’s that constant thing in the back of your head that’s like, this could be it or something like that, (or) go out there and lay it on the line, leave everything on the field, and don’t have any regrets,” he said.
As far as baseball goes, Mattison reveals not only his, but his fellow teammates’, vital roles.
“Pitching is a lot. It’s very demanding. Nothing begins until we throw that ball.
Everything is on us, and we’re in control of the whole game,” Mattison said. “We’ve got a bunch of young talent on our team. We’ve got good arms. I think our pitching staff is going to carry us quite a bit this year.”
Through 10 games, Mattison has had three appearances, allowed seven hits, three runs and has one strikeout. However, usually “the set-up man” or “end-of-the-game type of guy,” Mattison is frequently the closer for the Bulls.
“Whatever it takes for the team to win, you know, whatever that might be. Whether it’s starting, relieving, closing — it doesn’t matter. Whatever.”
As one of the leaders for the young staff encompassing Casey Hudspeth, Daniel Thomas, Nick Manganaro and James Rowe — four pitchers all under the age of 20 — Mattison takes his time on the mound and with his young counterparts.
“We try to teach them different charts, you know, watch the game. Watch the batters. Watch the hands. Watch the feet. There’s all these different things that the older players, as well as our coaches, try to teach the younger ones. They learn quite a bit, and they have to be quick, too. The game between college and high school is so much quicker and so much faster, you have to progress quicker.”
But as the Bulls climb to the Big East next year, it will be without one of their superior pitchers.
“It’s a great step for the program,” Mattison said. “The Big East is going to have quite a good baseball conference. Some of those guys that are in Conference USA are switching over, too. I don’t know (about next year). That’s all in the Lord’s hands.”