It’s a breezy yet sunny Saturday afternoon at Ball Diamond. The Cardinals are leading the Broncos 3-1, heading into the bottom of the fifth inning in their second home game of 2021.
“Now batting, the designated hitter, Adam Tellier.”
As “March Madness” by Future — Tellier’s walk-up song — blares over the loudspeakers, the freshman shortstop walks up to home plate. He’s 1 for 2 on the day with a single.
In his third at-bat of the game, Tellier drills a solo home run — the first of his Cardinal career — to left-center field, and the handful of fans in attendance jump with excitement.
Ball State went on to win the game 13-1, with Tellier finishing a double short of the cycle.
This season, Tellier leads the Cardinals with a .391 batting average and has started 20 of 28 games. He described his home run as an “aha moment.”
“I was like, ‘Wow, it really just happened,’” Tellier said. “At the same time, it’s also from all the hard work we’ve been putting in. It wasn’t necessarily unexpected, but it was definitely a fun feeling.”
Baseball has been a part of Tellier’s life for as long as he can remember, and he said he has always had a drive to lead. He grew up just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and spent numerous afternoons as a kid playing catch with his parents in his front yard.
“I definitely see myself as a born leader,” Tellier said. “Ever since I was young, it’s something my parents kind of instilled in me.”
Tellier played at Forest Hills Central High School in Ada, Michigan. His sophomore season, he set a program record with 36 stolen bases. Along with playing on his high school club, Tellier played for Elite Baseball and Softball in nearby Wyoming, Michigan.
While playing with Elite the summer before his senior year of high school, Tellier’s coach, Jim Abbott, reached out to Ball State head coach Rich Maloney. Tellier’s team was traveling to play in a tournament in the Indianapolis area, and Maloney made a point to attend along with two of his assistants, Scott French and Dustin Glant.
Maloney had four players on his radar while at the tournament, but it was Tellier who caught his attention. After one game, Maloney walked over to Abbott and told him just how much he wanted Tellier to play at Ball State.
"As soon as I saw that guy’s body, legs, the way he attacked the baseball — I was excited,” Maloney said. “That was the day I fell in love with the prospect of having Adam Tellier coming to play for me. I knew right from the get-go I wanted to have this kid.”
During his time coaching Tellier, Abbott said, everyone at Elite knew he could play beyond high school.
“I’ve been around the game long enough, and some guys are just there for the jersey and half-ass it,” Abbott said. “He was always trying to get better and always worked at it, but his spirit of wanting to win and compete was probably the biggest thing.”
Shortly after the tournament, Maloney gave Tellier a tour of Ball State’s campus, which was when he decided to become a Cardinal. After graduating from Forest Hills Central in 2019, Tellier settled into Muncie and played seven games with Ball State in 2020 before COVID-19 concerns cut the Cardinals’ season short.
Despite an abrupt ending to his first season, Tellier had an opportunity not all of his teammates had last year: summer ball. He spent last summer playing at Legacy Center Baseball in Brighton, Michigan, along with two of his Ball State teammates — sophomore pitcher Tyler Hill and junior outfielder Nick Powell.
Due to the pandemic, members of the facility organized a four-team summer league allowing college-aged players across Michigan to gain competitive experience when many others couldn’t play.
“Once COVID happened, they realized that kids still wanted to play, and it was kind of hard to travel across the country,” Tellier said. “It was an awesome experience because I’d never really played at the college level, so it was kind of good to see where I was at. It was a big confidence builder to be able to go out there and succeed.”
Maloney said Tellier’s experience at Legacy helped him get stronger, which has paid dividends for the Cardinals this season.
“We knew Adam had a really high skill set,” Maloney said. “He just needed to play. This year, he came back with renewed vigor and confidence from what he accomplished in the summer.”
Reflecting on Tellier’s success, Maloney said his knack for clutch hits is what makes him a special player. He goes back to Tellier’s first at-bat of the season when the Cardinals were down 7-6 to Arizona before he stepped up to the plate and delivered an RBI single to tie the game. Ball State ultimately won 8-7 in 11 innings.
“That was the spark plug,” Maloney said. “He’s aggressive at the plate, he’s aggressive at the bases — there’s an energy to him that separates him from others.”
Moving forward, Tellier said, he hopes to bring the Cardinals a Mid-American Conference Title and, possibly, get drafted into the MLB — a dream he’s had for years. He credits his teammates, specifically the Cardinals’ seniors, for helping him improve every game.
“I definitely think it’s time to put a ring on some guys’ fingers,” Tellier said, “and, hopefully, put a few on mine in the next few years.”
Contact Connor Smith with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cnsmith_19.