Kyle Martin and Alvin Melendez have played so much baseball together, they can figure out each other’s flaws before the other even notices them.
Martin and Melendez, Fordham University teammates and future roommates, have been spending the summer together playing for the Riverhead Tomcats in the Hamptons College Baseball League.
Martin, a 2016 Oceanside High School graduate and winner of the Diamond Award as the top pitcher in Nassau County, recalled a time when he was struggling with his control and couldn’t figure out why. After the inning, Melendez, his second baseman, alerted Martin to stay on a straight line from the rubber to home after starting too far on the right side.
“I didn’t even realize it,” Martin said. “It’s cool because not really anybody else would do that. I’m sure there’s other [teammates] that realize stuff, but they don’t really have the mindset to say anything, but he’s always looking out for me, I’m looking out for him and we’re trying to make each other better.”
Martin and Melendez, from Whitestone, have been summer ball teammates since high school and developed a strong friendship on the field and off.
“We make each other work hard,” Martin said. “We hold each other accountable for mistakes. It’s just really good to have him because he’s a friend that you have that pushes you to work hard and vice versa.”
The work has paid off for the two this summer. Martin, who pitched to a 6-1 record in 23 games with a 2.76 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 32 2⁄3 innings for Fordham, has a 1.25 ERA in 10 games for the Tomcats. Through Friday, he had allowed only eight hits and two walks and struck out 28 in 14 1⁄3 innings.
“I’ve felt awesome on the mound this summer,” Martin said. “College really made me mature as a pitcher. When I got to college, I just focused on pitching and it really helped with my velocity and sharpness on my curveball, and it transferred over this summer.”
Melendez, who hit .500 and allowed only three runs with an 8-0 record in his senior season as a pitcher for Cardozo High School, leads Riverhead with a .386 batting average, 23 runs and 12 stolen bases. He has added two home runs and 11 RBIs and has allowed two runs and struck out eight in five innings of relief.
Melendez called it a “big privilege” to be able to pitch and play the field for Fordham and Riverhead, knowing he can contribute nearly every day. He started 25 games in the field and pitched to a 0.76 ERA in 23 2⁄3 innings of relief in college.
“We both have the desire to get better, which is why we get along so well,” Martin said. “We’re kind of like the same type of person. We both want to make it to the next level.”
If Melendez is ever slumping or appears to be thinking too much at the plate, he said, Martin is there to remind him of his offensive prowess. Melendez is there for Martin, too.
“Even when he’s pitching and he seems to be losing focus, I try to let him know how good he is and really get him to be at the top of his game,” Melendez said. “Because at the top of his game, barely anybody can hit him.”