By Max Calderone | Sports Writer
If you see senior closer Troy Montemayor on the mound in the ninth inning, chances are the ballgame is over.
Now, with time running out on his career at Baylor, Montemayor is focusing on enjoying every last bit of his senior season.
“Every time I show up to the field, I’ve kept that in mind,” Montemayor said, reflecting on his four-year career as a Bear. “I’m not trying to take anything for granted. This is the last chance I’m going to get, so might as well make the most of it.”
The All-American right-handed pitcher has recorded 35 saves in his time as the Bears’ go-to reliever, good for second place on the program’s all-time career leaderboard.
“My job as a closer, if I go in, is to take it from a nine-inning game to an eight-inning game,” Montemayor said. “If I go in, those last three outs, the game is going to be over. If [the team] can get me a lead and get us into the ninth inning, that’ll be the ballgame.”
When head coach Steve Rodriguez came to Baylor in 2016, Montemayor locked down his position as the team’s closer and notched 14 saves in his sophomore campaign and picked up 12 more the following year.
If he is able to record three more saves this season, Montemayor will pass Baylor’s current record holder Zane Carlson, whose 37 saves from 2000-2004 currently top the program’s history books.
Montemayor said of course the record is on his mind, but he is trying to prevent it from becoming a distraction.
“I think that’s in the back of the mind of everybody that’s playing, trying to get me that record,” Montemayor said. “I’m just trying to take it one game at a time and if it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s in God’s hands.”
This season, “The Mayor,” as he is nicknamed, is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA, his highest mark since his freshman year, but is a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities. Though allowing baserunners in 2018 is considerably new for the closer, Montemayor said pitching with runners on base has helped him dial in and focus even more on the task at hand.
“Whatever switches in my mind, it just helps me pitch better when there’s guys on base. I don’t want to blow anything; I just want to get this win for my team,” Montemayor said.
Over his career, Montemayor has hardly blown anything. His 35 career saves have come in only 37 save opportunities, and he has converted 15 straight save chances. Rodriguez said although it can be nerve-wracking sometimes in bumpy outings, Montemayor has been exceptional in his career at Baylor.
“For me, that’s Troy. He lives on that edge and I’m willing to accept it because I know he can get out of it just as quickly as he can get in it,” Rodriguez said. “He has just done an amazing job in his career here and that’s why even in those situations I’m nervous for him, because I want him to succeed and I want him to do well.”
Because of his on-field success, Montemayor has twice been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List. But his off-the-field resume is just as impressive, as a member of the 2017 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team and nominee for Baylor’s 2018 Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
As the semester comes to a close, Montemayor is just focused on finishing out the season and leading the Bears back to the postseason, but he is staying optimistic about a potential professional career.
“Hopefully when the draft in June rolls around that stuff goes good and God takes care of me,” Montemayor said. “I’m just trying to take it one game at a time. I’m not trying to focus on the future. I think we’ve got 13 or 14 games left this season and I’m just trying to enjoy those. Whatever happens after that, happens.”