Mesa State seniors enjoy an unprecedented run of success
Andrew Martinez likes to sing, especially when he’s a little nervous.
The Mesa State College senior could be at home studying or out at third base warming up for the first pitch when he’ll break out in song, or at least start humming.
“It always calms me down,” Martinez said. At the ballpark, he’ll sing or hum along to whatever’s playing over the public address system.
“It takes the pressure off. I’ll stand there and sing to myself. I like to keep things fun.”
Don’t be surprised if the Grand Junction native is at least humming to himself tonight for the 12th-ranked Mavericks (37-9, 27-6 RMAC) when he and 15 other seniors are recognized during pregame festivities on Little League Family Night at Suplizio Field.
Mesa State hosts Colorado Christian (13-33, 7-25 RMAC) in a four-game RMAC series, with games at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. tonight and a Saturday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.
“They are a great group of seniors,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “Several of them have been together for a long time. Martinez and (Blake) Carlquist have been here five years. (Matt) Bodenchuk has been here six (with a redshirt year and a medical redshirt season). We’ve won five conference titles in a row and they’ve experienced all of them, playing in four of them and redshirting one.”
The Mavs’ other seniors are Chris Carma, Justin Little, Carlquist, Grant Vickers, Corey Todhunter, T.J. Butch, Mike Provencher, Bodenchuk, Chris Cassell, Kevin Chritz, Andy Williams, Craig Lanzarotta, Brent Lamaster, Aaron Guinn and Jason Fronczak.
“It’s a unique situation, unprecedented in the conference with five consecutive titles,” Hanks said. “I’m happy because the kids made it happen.”
Martinez has always played on winning teams — he’s won conference titles every year since his freshman year at Central High School — but admits he doesn’t want to think about it ending.
“It’s been a lot of fun for me here,” Martinez said. “I don’t want to give it up. I want to think nothing will change. There is a lot of excitement to it, and depression, but I don’t want to think about it.
“We’ll play more here after (this weekend). I don’t think this will be the last time we play here.”
The Mavericks would host the NCAA Central Regional tournament May 14-17 if they can hold onto the top regional seed when the tournament field is announced May 10.
Martinez, who is hitting .389, has played shortstop, second base and third base during his career. Hanks has even thought about pitching him in relief.
“We’ve pitched Andrew in the fall,” Hanks said. “I’ve thought about pitching him a couple times this year, too. We were at Metro and had a bad day pitching. I told the coaches ‘I’m about to give the ball to Andrew.’ I knew he would throw strikes and force contact.”
For the past five years, Martinez hasn’t changed a thing in his game preparation, no matter what position he’s playing.
“He could fall out of bed and (field) a ground ball,” Hanks said. “ He’s soft-spoken and works hard. He has the same approach day-in and day-out.
“The only regret I have with him is his freshman year. We started him at second base and he got off to a slow start. We put (Sean) McKinney in and he got hot. Martinez had a disappointing year. Every year he starts like that and ends on fire, but we didn’t know that at the time.”