Andrew Martinson didn’t expect to crack the starting rotation — or even get many innings of relief work on the mound — knowing that pitching was considered a strong suit for Evanston’s baseball team entering the 2015 season.
But the junior right-hander continues to make contributions and underscore the fact that you can never have too much pitching at any level of the game.
Martinson turned in his most impressive starting performance of the season Saturday, hurling five scoreless innings and improving to 3-1 overall with an 8-2 Central Suburban League victory over visiting Maine East. He only surrendered one hit — a fourth inning single to East’s Ryan Sands — as the Wildkits chalked up their 7th straight victory and moved to 17-5-1 on the season.
Martinson’s sidearm style baffled the Blue Demons and he was as efficient as could be Saturday, needing only 49 pitches in his 5-inning stint before turning things over to the bullpen. East pushed across two runs against Justin Farrow and Charlie Maxwell to spoil the shutout bid in the seventh inning.
Martinson lowered his earned run average to an even 3.00 and is building trust from the Evanston coaching staff as the Kits enter a stretch of eight straight games that will determine the conference champion. Evanston plays Maine South Tuesday and Thursday, then finishes CSL play with games against Niles North, Waukegan, Deerfield and New Trier.
The lanky righty still isn’t used to starting — he pitches from the stretch at all times after serving mostly as a reliever in his first two seasons at ETHS — but has helped the Wildkits fill a void until Dylan Mulvihill returns from the injured list in a couple of weeks.
“There was an opportunity to step up when we lost Dylan, and I think me and Charlie Bailey have both taken advantage of that,” said Martinson. “We have a good lineup of pitchers here and I think we’re going to make it work. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to throw in varsity games and it’s been a lot of fun for me.
“For this game today, I knew Maine East wasn’t really a heavy hitting team, so I just tried to throw strikes, let them hit the ball and I knew the defense would get the job done.”
“I probably could have left Drew in today, but I wanted to get (ace) Russ Snapp in there because they had the top of the order coming up in the sixth. And I also wanted to give Justin and Charlie some work, because they’re going to have to help us the rest of the way and I need to see just how mentally tough they are,” said ETHS head coach Frank Consiglio.
“Drew’s attacking the hitters more now. He used to be a nibbler who felt his stuff wasn’t strong enough to get hitters out. And my trust in him wasn’t there early because he couldn’t hold runners on. As soon as I saw that, I knew he had some work to do. But he’s made some adjustments and he can get ground ball outs. I figured he’d help us by the start of May, once he got some experience.”
Evanston scored once in the second inning, on an RBI single by Mark Roth, and added two more in the third on back-to-back doubles by Ben Wilson and Farrow, plus James Allen’s RBI groundout.
Wilson ignited a rally in the fifth that eventually chased Maine East starter Dylan Kuffel. He banged a three-base hit off the fence in left center and scored on Farrow’s sacrifice fly. Allen hit a one-out double over the right fielder’s head and came around on singles by Sam Evans and Tyler McHolland.
A two-run single by Allen concluded the scoring for the hosts in the sixth.