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Division's Mark Martinez wins Diamond Award as best position player

Division teammates greet catcher Mark Martinez at home

Division teammates greet catcher Mark Martinez at home plate after his grand slam in the fifth inning against Plainedge in a Nassau baseball game on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Mark Martinez hits well.

Anyone who's watched Nassau baseball this year is acquainted with this concept and he certainly has the numbers to prove it. But while "Mark Martinez: Haunting Pitchers' Nightmares," is a fine title to this Division baseball season, there's an addendum to this particular narrative.

Notably, while Martinez was causing many an opposing pitcher's head to droop in resignation, he was actually a huge key to his own pitchers' success.

"He's done everything for us this year," coach Tom Tuttle said. "This was the first year he's caught since Little League and it's not like every other position player, where you worry about your own position. As a catcher, you have to call the game, block pitches and keep the running game in check. So many variables come in when you catch and that's why many catchers don't hit great, because they have other things to worry about."

Martinez, a former pitcher, had only four runners run against him this year. He picked three guys off first base, worked up to a 1.9 POP time, and called nearly every pitch -- pacing his staff to only 17 walks in 119 conference innings.

Oh, you want those hitting stats, too?

He hit .529, with a .897 slugging percentage. He had four home runs, 43 RBIs and only struck out four times in 87 at-bats.

It's because of all those accomplishments and more that Martinez, a senior committed to Lackawanna CC, was named the position player Diamond Award winner Wednesday night at the Nassau dinner at the Uniondale Marriott.

"He became a much more disciplined player this year," Tuttle said, noting that Martinez, a righty pull hitter, learned to use both sides of the field. Suddenly, breaking balls to the outside part of the plate were fair game, and Martinez mashed them.

"He had hits to right-center and center and a lot of those were really big hits," Tuttle said. "He was adaptable."

So much so that he pitched his freshman year for the JV, played outfield his sophomore year and played third his junior year. By senior year, Tuttle had decided that Martinez's biggest upside would be behind the plate. Turned out, there was a fifth role on the horizon.

"He was like having another coach," he said. "He had this pitching background so he called a game like he was pitching and it left the coaching staff to worry about other aspects of the game. Sometimes, as a coach, you can get distracted calling the game and you lose the flow."

And really, this is just the beginning. Martinez will get more reps behind the plate and his passion for the game means he's bound to only get better.

"I'm going to miss him dearly," Tuttle said. "But you're going to hear good things about him in the future."

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