Baseball

Prairie Ridge grad Martini hits game-winner for A's

Martini secures ‘W’ for Oakland in 2nd shot on major league roster

The Oakland Athletics' Nick Martini (right) celebrates with Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie after they defeated the White Sox on Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Oakland Athletics' Nick Martini (right) celebrates with Matt Olson and Jed Lowrie after they defeated the White Sox on Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nick Martini did not have to wait long for another shot in the big leagues.

Once there, Martini did not wait long to make an impact.

The 2008 Prairie Ridge graduate pinch hit in the eighth inning for the Oakland A’s on Saturday against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

He worked a full count against reliever Juan Minaya, then ripped a sharp single up the middle to score Stephen Piscotty from second with the winning run in a 7-6 victory.

It was Martini’s first major league hit, so he got to keep the ball.

“It’s hard to describe,” Martini said afterward. “I was excited, but I couldn’t really … I was just so in the moment. I wish I had gotten my first hit the first time I was up here, but to get it in my backyard is definitely special.”

After the game, Martini received a beer shower from teammates in the locker room, a traditional celebration after a first hit.

The A’s called up Martini briefly earlier this month. He played in three games and was 0 for 9 at the plate. He was sent back to Triple-A Nashville on June 10.

Martini’s family and girlfriend flew to Arlington, Texas, to see his major league debut June 6. His mother, Kris, and his girlfriend, Kaylin Dietrich, were there Saturday for his big moment.

His brother, Alex, and sisters, Maddy and Hannah, plan on being there for Sunday’s game. His father, Scott, was out of town on business.

“It’s going to be fun to celebrate that with them tonight,” Martini said. “I was just trying to put together a good at-bat. [Minaya] made some good pitches there, and I was fortunate to get one through there. I was fortunate enough to be a big part of this game.”

Martini, who grew up in Crystal Lake and helped the Wolves win the 2008 Class 4A state championship, found out after Nashville’s game Friday night that he was headed close to home.

“I was super excited,” Martini said before the game. “I’m still kind of in the moment, to be honest with you. It’s all still really new to me and fresh.”

The left-handed-hitting outfielder has been heating up in Nashville. He was hitting .305 for the season in the Pacific Coast League, and was particularly hot in June at 23 for 63, an average of .365, with 10 RBIs. Martini put together a 21-game hitting streak from May 22 to June 19.

“I think just having good at-bats and playing good defense when I’m called upon,” said Martini, when asked about his role. “I was getting hotter as of late. It’s been pretty crazy, for sure. A lot of good at-bats. The couple of streaks I was on were unbelievable, really. It’s been good. It’s been fun lately, these last couple months.”

Martini’s recall came a day after his former high school teammate, Kevin Kaczmarski, was called up by the New York Mets. Kaczmarski joined the Mets on Friday in New York for the opener of their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Martini was an integral part of Prairie Ridge’s 2008 Class 4A state championship team as a senior center fielder and relief pitcher.

Kaczmarski, then a sophomore, was used as a pinch and courtesy runner in the playoffs.

Martini went to Kansas State and was taken in the seventh round of Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft by St. Louis in 2011. Kaczmarski went to Evansville and led the NCAA in hitting as a senior and was picked by the Mets in the ninth round of the 2015 draft.

“[Kaczmarski] is a good dude,” Martini said. “I hit with him for a couple offseasons. He deserves it, for sure.”

Martini spent seven years in the Cardinals’ organization, then signed with the A’s and went to major league spring training this year.

“He’s having a nice year in Triple-A,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s just as much of a reward as anything else.”

Melvin was not sure whether Martini would get a start in Chicago since outfielder Matt Joyce – who went to the DL when Martini was first promoted – is back with the team.

“I was a Cubs fan, but I came to a lot of games here, too, just because it was a fun atmosphere,” Martini said of the South Side. “It’s just fun to be here at this level.”

• Freelance reporter Tom Musick contributed to this report.

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