The Mac Weekly will be spotlighting an athlete every week through the end of the semester. This week we chatted with Ty Benz, a pitcher with Macalester’s baseball team. Though his freshman 2020 season was cancelled three games in, Benz started this year on April 3 during the Scots’ game against Augsburg University. He threw five scoreless innings and only gave up three hits during Macalester’s 12-1 win. Our interview below is lightly edited for grammar.
The Mac Weekly (TMW): What do you remember feeling after the season was cancelled last year? How did you find out?
Ty Benz (TB): I was in shock when we got the news our season was cancelled. It was so sudden and nobody thought it was going to happen until it did. We had played games the week before and had been prepping for our trip to Arizona all week. We found out on a Thursday that our trip was cancelled and the next day we found out at practice that this would be our last practice of the year. I felt especially bad for the seniors because they worked hard all year for their last college baseball season just to have it cancelled three games in.
TMW: When did you all find out you would be allowed to play this year? How did that feel?
TB: At our first fall ball practice, we were told that spring sports were a priority. That wasn’t a guarantee that we would play, but it meant the athletic department would try. We had some non-conference games scheduled during spring break, but those ended up getting cancelled. At that point, there was some uncertainty that we would play at all. But once we got to scrimmage outside, there was a feeling that ‘this is really happening’. At that moment we knew we would play, barring a COVID outbreak. It was a great feeling because we all had been missing the competitive nature of baseball. There was so much excitement on the team because it had been over a year since we played a game and we were ready to get back on the field.
TMW: Tell me about the first game this year. What moments stuck with you from that first competition back?
TB: Our first game back was crazy to say the least. We ended up winning a back and forth game by a score of 19-16. Whenever either team would score, there was an immediate answer by the other team. When Mike Moreno ’22 hit a grand slam to put us up 4-0, I remember the feeling of excitement overwhelm the whole team. We all had the instinct to rush to home plate like normal, but we had to refrain because of COVID. All the protocols we have to follow this year make this season unique. Playing a game in a mask is quite different from practice or a scrimmage and it will never feel normal, but we are getting used to it. It just felt amazing to be actually playing a game of baseball again.
TMW: You had a really amazing game on Saturday. Can you write a bit about how you got into baseball? Who’s your biggest athletic influence and why?
TB: My parents signed me up for tee-ball when I was four and I have been playing it ever since. I also played soccer and wrestled, but I always knew baseball would be my sport. I don’t know what it was, but I was just naturally drawn to baseball. My parents were very influential in my sports development. They would drive me all over the place for baseball practice, lessons, and tournaments. I wouldn’t be playing college baseball if it wasn’t for them and that makes them my biggest athletic influences.
TMW: What’s your go-to pregame hype song?
TB: My go-to pregame hype song is “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.