Mario Martinez is constructing an MVP season with the AquaSox. Signed at age 16 as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 out of the northern Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto, Martinez has produced a steady stream of hits for Everett this season. The Northwest League-leader in hits with 64 as of Sunday’s 9-7 win, is batting .332 with two home runs, 23 RBI and five triples (second in the league).
Perhaps more impressive is the franchise record 21-hitting streak which ended Friday night and Martinez’s response (he batted 3-for-4 the night after Boise snapped the streak).
“He battles every at bat,” Everett manager John Tamargo said. “He puts the bat on the ball with two strikes and that’s what you have to do to be a good hitter. “He’s done really well this year.”
Martinez also stays focused with runners on the bags. The 19-year-old third baseman and designated hitter is batting .340 with runners in scoring position, including a .407 on-base percentage.
Bantz earning stripes
Catcher Brandon Bantz, a 30th-round selection by the Seattle Mariners in June’s entry draft, is making the most of his opportunities with Everett. Bantz was mobbed by teammates at home plate Sunday following a 3-for-5 performance that included two home runs, one a two-run, walk-off shot to left field.
The 22-year old from Mansfield, Texas by way of Dallas Baptist University, began the season with Rookie-A Pulaski, and has appeared in just eight games with Everett. “He opened a lot of eyes (with Sunday’s performance),” outfielder James Jones said. “He’s always had that (skill), he’s a very patient guy and finally got the opportunity (to prove himself).”
Manager John Tamargo said Bantz would be in the lineup again for tonight’s series finale against Eugene. After Sunday’s win, Bantz is batting .381 (8-for-21) with two home runs and seven RBI in eight games.
A chance to catch up
It’s reaching crunch-time for the AquaSox in their quest for a NWL West Division crown. Everett sits two games behind division-leading Salem-Keizer with a crucial stretch of games fast approaching. The AquaSox begin a five-game series on the road against Boise following Monday’s home game against Eugene.
Following the Boise series, Everett plays 12 of its next 15 games against Salem-Keizer, including two, three-game series at home (Aug. 20-22, 29-31). Salem-Keizer has lost six of its last seven games as of Aug. 8 and is leaving the door open for Everett to claim the division lead.
“That’s gonna tell it all (the upcoming weeks),” Tamargo said. “We can’t worry about what’s happening to anybody else, we’ve just got to win our ball games.”
“That’s the determining series right there (12 games against Salem-Keizer),” Bantz said. Jones smiled with excited when thinking about the next few weeks. “It’s the best part of the season,” Jones said.