Bucks County Herald

Lightning strikes twice Former Quakertown Blazers

Teammates forge paths to Big Leagues

DON LEYPOLDT



After making his Major League Baseball debut on April 17, Oakland Athletics pitcher Lou Trivino, left, has become an integral part of the bullpen this season, notching an 8-1 record with a 1.16 ERA. His former Quakertown Blazers teammate, Tim Mayza, right, threw a shutout inning in his debut with the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 15, 2017. Mayza has thrown in 16 Big League games in 2018.

All roads to the Major Leagues are arduous. Tim Mayza’s and Lou Trivino’s roads are no different.
But the strikingly similar roads of the local Big Leaguers frequently intersected. Trivino’s Pennridge team beat Mayza’s Perkiomen post to win the 2010 Bux-Mont Legion title, en route to Post 255’s advancement to nationals.

“Obviously Lou had a special arm that has continued to progress,” Mayza noted. “It seems like his velocity has taken off since college. What stuck out was the power stuff. He always had a hard breaking ball and a hard fastball. You could see that he had the stuff to do it, and he definitely had the work ethic as well.”

Three years later, Mayza’s shutout enabled Millersville to top Slippery Rock in Trivino’s final collegiate start.

“Tim Mayza works as hard as anyone,” Trivino stated. “He and I have a very similar story. We got drafted, we were struggling early on in our careers and then at almost the exact time, figured it out. I keep up with him and I wish him all of the best. He is a great guy.”

In 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays called Mayza’s number just 14 players after the Oakland Athletics conscripted Upper Bucks Christian’s Trivino. This April 18, both players pitched in the Majors.

Their careers never intersected more than as teammates for the 2011 Quakertown Blazers. Trivino won Quakertown’s pitching triple crown; Upper Perkiomen’s Mayza fanned 22 in 24 innings.

“I remember the group of guys who were there,” Mayza recollected. “I remember creating a tight-knit team and any time you stick a group of guys together for months at a time, you create some sort of friendship with them.”

“My game is movement and 2011 was the year I figured out how to throw a two-seam fastball,” Trivino added. “It was great being able to play in front of my hometown. When I was a kid, I went to a few Blazers games. You look up to those guys and think, ‘Hopefully, I’ll be there one day.’ My grandfather was able to see me play a lot.”

“It’s a pleasure to see Lou and Tim progress to the Major Leagues. Only 1 out of 20 who sign pro contracts make it to the Major League level,” said Quakertown’s Tom Bonekemper, Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League president. “We, the ACBL, are certainly proud of Lou and Tim. It’s an unbelievably long road from the Rookie Leagues to the Major Leagues with low pay, poor living conditions and a lot of travel along the way.”

Lefty Mayza credits “trust and confidence” in explaining his huge leap forward during his junior year at Millersville. “I hit some bumps in the road going up to Cape Cod and pitching against some of the premier college talent in the nation,” Mayza said. “Being able to learn, and the amount of confidence that I was able to come back with, contributed to the amount of success that I had that year.

“I had a lot more trust in my pitches: my fastball, change-up and breaking ball, and it took off,” Mayza added. “I started trusting the things I was doing, the work I was putting in and not putting so much pressure on myself. I let my preparation take over.”

After two subpar professional seasons, Mayza broke out in 2015 at Class A Lansing, and followed it up with a 2.25 ERA in 42 games across High-A and Double-A.

“Once I started having some success,” Mayza remembered, “it snowballed and I was able to gain some traction. I saw a little bump in velocity, but really what changed in those two years was my breaking ball: being able to develop a good put-away pitch is something that had to be done for me to have success at the next level.”

Mayza debuted on Aug. 15, 2017, throwing a shutout inning in Toronto against Tampa Bay in front of his parents, coaches and his fiancée.

Toronto recalled Mayza six different times this season; he has a 4.67 ERA in 16 Big League games. Mayza currently pitches at Triple-A Buffalo but a promotion could literally happen tomorrow.

“Once you make it, you want to stay,” Mayza pointed out. “I think everybody’s goal once they make it is to establish themselves and be that everyday Big League player.”

After debuting this April 17, Trivino is an integral part of arguably baseball’s best bullpen. The Oakland A’s were 34-36 on June 15. Through Tuesday, they were 67-46, and held the wild card lead.

Oakland has the fourth-best ERA in baseball after six innings. Trivino owns a sparkling 8-1 record with a 1.16 ERA.

“It all starts in the clubhouse. There is not one guy who is selfish here,” Trivino noted. “We’re all playing for each other. We all enjoy being around each other as well. That helps, because you want to see everyone succeed and we are succeeding.

“I’m thankful I’m having a good year, but if my defense doesn’t make certain plays, my ERA is through the roof,” Trivino candidly admitted. “Early in my career, I did struggle. Hearing other stories from people coming from different organizations, the A’s very easily could have given up on me. I’m thankful to be here and they were able to stick with me.”

In just his 11th game, Trivino threw two shutout innings at Fenway Park to help beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3. The game marked the return of teammate Stephen Piscotty, who homered in his first at-bat after burying his mother, a victim of ALS.

“I couldn’t imagine what it would be like,” Trivino said. “It’s just a tough situation and not only is he a great teammate, but he is a great, great guy. He handled it as best as anyone could. To get called upon and be able to come through in that situation, I was really very blessed.”

Trivino threw 1.2 beautiful, shutout innings on July 21, an extra-inning A’s win in front of the largest crowd in Oakland Coliseum history.

“You talk about playoff atmosphere?” Trivino asked. “The electricity was in the air. A bolt of adrenaline goes through you as you’re pitching. It was a really awesome experience and hopefully an experience that we can have if we, Lord willing, keep winning games and make a playoff push.”

Trivino still gets together with his Legion coach, Rocky Wright, each offseason. If Oakland continues to thrive, Wright and a number of area A’s fans will gladly lose sleep to watch West Coast playoff games.




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