Youth prevails; Mason Marriott shows promise for Baylor baseball

Freshman Mason Marriott steps up, helping the Bears as a closing pitcher and gaining experience on the team. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

Closers in baseball deal with immense pressure as they’re forced to seal the deal for their team. Being in that role as a first-year guy is a tall task, but one freshman right-handed pitcher — Mason Marriott — embraces and thrives in it.

“Oh, yes, I love it,” Marriott said. “Going in one-run, two-run games and you’re the last guy to the mound, you have to get your job done. I mean, I live for it.”

It didn’t take long for head coach Steve Rodriguez to throw Marriott into the fire, but Rodriguez figured he would benefit from it.

“Well, we’ve put him in some pretty big situations against some pretty big teams and I don’t know if I can really coach that,” Rodriguez said. “I have to let him go out there and let him sink or swim and luckily he’s been on the swimming end of that.”

From a veteran standpoint, junior infielder Jack Pineda gives clear insight to Marriott’s late-game proficiency. Pineda feels like a “proud dad” when the youngster comes in and closes in a huge spot.

“It’s fun to watch him. From an older perspective, I kind of watched him grow up in a span of 10 days. When he’s got those three outings and the tying run is on base or the winning run is on base every time, that was fun to watch,” Pineda said. “I think that you kind of get a proud dad moment when you see [that] — especially just how young he is, how good that’s going to be for him. He is so talented and for him to get [those] situations is awesome, it’s only going to make it better.”

Through some high-intensity moments, Marriott has been able to settle in and hamper any nerves he faced early on.

“At the beginning here [I felt] a little bit [of jitters], but I’ve settled down,” Marriott said. “My teammates have my back so I’m able to sit there and focus on my job and get it done.”

Part of those nerves comes from being the son of Mike Marriott, former minor league pitcher for the Florida Marlins. However, having someone who made it to that next level of baseball was huge for the Tomball native and he still gets “the talk” from his dad to this day.

“He’s helped me a lot,” Marriott said. “I haven’t really done much pitching lessons and stuff. I just go home and get ‘the talk’ and get it over with every single game. Now I get a phone call, tell him what I did wrong or what I did right and just keep my head up.”

Even though Marriott is one of the younger ones on the roster, being a rotational guy has allowed him to step up as a leader and help bolster the bullpen.

“We’re growing, we’re getting more experience on our sleeves,” Marriott said. “I mean, I’m still a young guy, but I try not to act young so I can be a leader for the other younger guys and maybe for some of the older guys.”

Not having that veteran prowess is a drawback to some extent, but it’s a double-sided coin. Rodriguez has found benefit in the youth of the 6-2 pitcher and knows he will go out and do what needs to be done.

“Well, the weird thing is that everybody’s new to the organization and the team until they get out there and they’re competing for us,” Rodriguez said. “At that point, I don’t care what year you are. I mean, obviously it’s good to be older and be experienced in a lot of different ways, but sometimes being a new guy and not knowing is also a blessing. Just going out there and doing what you’re supposed to do and not really caring about the other things … There’s a small blessing in that as well.”

Even with the rough first start for Marriott in his last outing, he has shown prominent ability in several spots this season. He has established trust in the staff and will be a big piece moving forward for the program.

“That for me is a really good sign: knowing you can put a young man out there against a really good team in some heated situations,” Rodriguez said. “And him to come out on the successful end is a great sign for Baylor baseball.”