2021 All-Area Baseball: Bethlehem Catholic’s Anthony Martinez shook off a shot to the mouth and had a rookie of the year season

2021 All-Area Baseball: Bethlehem Catholic’s Anthony Martinez shook off a shot to the mouth and had a rookie of the year season

Anthony Martinez couldn’t wait to join his brothers Matt and Peter as varsity baseball players at Bethlehem Catholic this spring.

But Martinez got a rude welcome to the Golden Hawks squad.

Just before the season began, a hard-hit ground ball took a bad hop during practice and hit him squarely in the mouth. It was as painful as a Mike Tyson punch.

It took a valiant effort by the team’s trainer to save a tooth that had been jarred loose and X-rays were required.

“It was a serious injury and we were very concerned,” Becahi’s first-year coach Matt Corsi said. “Within the first 48 hours, we heard Anthony might be out for the season.”

Fortunately for the Golden Hawks, Martinez only missed a week of practice and the season’s first game.

“It wasn’t the best way to start, but it was just a matter of getting back on the field and getting comfortable again,” he said.

He shook off the injury to become a full-time starter for Becahi at third base and also served as a relief pitcher, going 5-for-5 in save opportunities while delivering several clutch hits. He was a key in helping the Golden Hawks reach the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference tournament and win the District 11 Class 4A title.

For his ability to come back from the early-season injury and his clutch performances on the mound and at the plate, Martinez is The Morning Call’s Rookie of the Year for the 2021 scholastic baseball season.

Once he was cleared to play, Martinez played second base for one game and right field in another before settling in at third. In Becahi’s home opener, he came on in relief as a pitcher and closed out a 6-3 win over Northampton with two scoreless innings that featured three strikeouts.

In a rematch with the Konkrete Kids two days later, Martinez didn’t pitch but walked three times and scored two runs.

While he finished with 14 strikeouts in 12⅔ innings, he mostly delivered quality defense and at-bats. He walked 16 times and drove in 10 runs with his 13 hits.

“When all is said and done, I think Anthony has a chance to be the best player among the Martinez brothers and they’re all outstanding players,” Corsi said. “He’s the hardest worker on the team. Anthony will leave one of our practices and go right into the batting cage and get in extra hitting. He hits almost as much as anyone I’ve ever seen.”

The only one who Corsi was around who possibly got in more hitting was former Liberty High, Lehigh University and Major League Baseball player Matt McBride.

“He really does remind me of a young Matt McBride because of the way he loves to hit and just wants to keep working on it,” Corsi said. “Matt McBride couldn’t get enough.”

Anthony Martinez isn’t looking to follow in McBride’s footsteps. Instead, he might have an even more challenging role in replacing his all-star brother Matt as the Golden Hawks catcher. Matt Martinez graduated in June.

“Catcher is Anthony’s best position; that’s where he wants to play,” Corsi said. “He is going to be outstanding back there, just like his brother.

Corsi said the Martinez boys love baseball and Anthony has the same passion that made Matt Martinez one of the area’s best players in recent years.

“Anthony came into this team as a freshman starter and that’s not easy,” Corsi said. “We wanted to bring him along slowly and started him off seventh in the batting order. He could have hit higher in the order, but we didn’t want to put too much pressure on him. Every time we needed a big hit, he got it.”

In a 5-3 win over Northwestern Lehigh in the district finals, Martinez led off the second inning with a walk, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third, and scored on a single to help the Golden Hawks get out to a 3-0 lead.

“He was second on the team in walks and always gave us a good at-bat,” Corsi said. “I’m just excited to watch him grow for the next four years. I saw how his brother Matt developed over four years and he’s in the same mold with a terrific work ethic. He has the potential to be the best.”

Martinez, who will be joined by another brother, Michael, on next year’s team, is eager to make a bigger mark at Becahi over the next three seasons.

He is spending the summer with the AAU program called the East Coast Lumberjacks who travel throughout the country with stops in Florida and Georgia on the schedule.

“I want to use the offseason to swing the bat more and definitely want to work on my arm strength and keep working on things throughout my high school career,” he said. “It means a lot for me to represent Bethlehem Catholic baseball and my family. We pride ourselves on hard work and doing things in a classy manner. No one likes to watch a cocky person play baseball who thinks it’s all about them.”

The Martinez family believes it’s all about the team and their family is about building a larger family within the Becahi program.

“I learned a lot from my brother Matt about being a leader and now I want to be more of a leader myself next year for the incoming freshmen and the upperclassmen, too,” Martinez said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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