Feb. 19, 2014
Senior right-handed pitcher Ben Ballantine returned to the Maize and Blue rotation and had a stellar outing in the 8-2 win over Air Force last Saturday (Feb. 15). In Ballantine's first outing since an ankle injury in April cut his 2013 season short, the fifth-year senior allowed just one hit in seven innings with five strikeouts in the win over the Falcons. We asked Ben how he felt back on the mound, what was working for him and his favorite Winter Olympic sport.
Q: How did it feel to be back on the mound for the first time since the injury?
A: It felt really good to be in another game and especially against another opponent. We know our coaches and the way we practice, they do a great job simulating actual live game experiences so I was pretty comfortable out there. It wasn't like my first time on the mound competing since I broke it. I felt pretty comfortable.
Q: What pitches were working for you on Saturday night?
A: I was attacking the strike zone with my fastball mostly in the first few innings there. I struggled to find my secondary pitches but as the game went on, I got a feel for those and I was able to have a three-pitch mix there towards the end.
Q: What was your initial reaction when you found out you received a fifth year of eligibility?
A: My initial reaction was that it's just a miracle and a dream come true. This whole fifth-year opportunity that I'm getting wouldn't have been possible without the team putting together that huge win streak that they had in Big Ten play and making it into the Big Ten Tournament because if we hadn't have done that, I could have kissed my fifth-year chances goodbye. I'm incredibly thankful and happy to be with the group of guys that made it all possible.
Q: How was the rehab process? Describe what all went into it.
A: It was long. At first, it was really frustrating. No one wants to be on crutches or in a boot or having people asking if they can help you out with stuff. I wasn't used to that. But once I kind of got into the whole different, new routine it became easier. Having the support of the coaches and our trainers--they've done a great job with me--and it really made dealing with the whole process a lot easier. It gave me something to be hopeful for with the whole fifth-year.
Q: With the Winter Olympics going on, do you have a favorite winter sport?
A: I like watching all the snowboarding events. It's the only thing I can really relate to. It's the only thing I really can do. I can't ice skate if my life depended on it. I guess I like watching snowboarding just because it's something I like to do in Lake Tahoe when I'm home.