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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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“Big Game Corbin” ready to shine in CWS opener vs. Louisville

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Photo by By Alex Miller

A&M starting pitcher Corbin Martin threw 4.2 innings, striking out seven batters.

OMAHA, Neb. — Some players simply have a knack for the big moment. They have an innate ability to contain their emotions and maintain their focus enough to not only keep the pressure from hurting their play, but find a way to elevate their performance.
Corbin Martin has done that for Texas A&M all season long, which is one of the main reasons why head coach Rob Childress announced him as the Aggies’ starter in Sunday’s CWS opener against Louisville even though it has been Brigham Hill who has started the first game of every previous series this season.
“Corbin has pitched in some big games this year, and I’m pretty sure every single one he’s come out and he’s had that fire on the mound,” senior outfielder Walker Pennington told The Battalion on Friday. “He’s exciting to play behind because you know he’s going to throw the ball in the zone, and whenever he does well, he expresses it on the mound and kind of gets us going and rallied for when we go hit.
“Whenever he’s on the mound, we know we have a really good chance to win.”
When the Aggies were in the midst of an 0-5 start to SEC play, Martin turned in a gritty effort against Vanderbilt that played a pivotal role in ending their losing streak.
When the Aggies needed a win in the decisive game three of the LSU series, Martin turned in one of the greatest performances of his A&M career, scattering three runs over eight superb innings to get a victory that served as the impetus for a hot streak.
When the Aggies had lost four games in a row in the middle of May, had used all three of its best relievers the night before and needed Martin to be at his best, the junior right-hander was up to the task, collecting a career-high 12 strikeouts to beat Arkansas 5-2.
And in the first round of postseason play, with the Aggies needing a win to get into the driver’s seat at 2-0 in the Houston Regional, Martin delivered once again, pitching seven innings of two-run ball with nine strikeouts in a 3-2 nail-biting win over Iowa.
“He’s definitely a big-game pitcher,” says senior centerfielder Nick Choruby. “I think he’s an emotional guy and he definitely uses that to his advantage.”
In his last three starts, Martin is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA and an impeccable 34:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He pitched at least six innings in three of those four starts, with his only hiccup coming last weekend against Davidson, where he was knocked out of the game in the fifth inning but the Aggies offense picked him up and won the game anyway.
“He feeds off the emotion of the crowd and gets us going as hitters,” Pennington says. “It seems like every time we needed a big start this year, he’s come through with it.”
But could this be the biggest start of Martin’s career?
“No doubt,” says Martin, who is 7-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 2017. “But I can’t look at it that way because it’s just another game and I’ve got to just go out there and attack.”
The challenge ahead of him won’t be easy. Louisville is one of the deepest teams in the country without any glaring weaknesses and boasts an offense that leads all eight CWS participants in OPS (on-base plus slugging) and is second in home runs and stolen bases.
“Being able to come out and throw strikes, that’s the goal,” says Martin, a second-round draft pick of the Astros in last week’s MLB Draft. “Louisville is a team that if you’re giving them free passes, they’re going to make you pay. The one thing we have to do as a pitching staff is just attack and trust the fact that we’ve got the stuff to win in any situation.”
The fact that Brendan McKay, the winner of nearly every individual award possible and a top-five draft pick, is the opposing pitcher will only make it tougher. Martin, however, always seems to find a way to be at his best when the stakes are highest.
“I think he’s going to go out and dominate. He’s pitching with a lot of confidence right now, and that’s all we can ask out of him,” says third baseman George Janca. “He’ll step up when we need him to. I think he just has the right attitude up there — he wants to be in that spot. He’s got great stuff, but at the same time, he wants to be out there.”
Hill, the Aggies’ Friday night starter for the entire season to this point, will likely be deployed as a reliever early in the CWS. He thrived in that role early last year and his durability will give Childress a lot of flexibility in how he wants to handle his pitching staff.
“I feel like that gives our pitching staff,” Childress said in Friday’s press conference, “the best chance to win early in the tournament.”
Hill is eager to help the team in any way he can, and is confident Martin will be ready to pitch against the Cardinals on Sunday.
“I expect nothing but the best,” Hill says. “He lives in the moment, he’s done a great job all year and I think he’s going to do great things.”
Whatever happens in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. at TD Ameritrade Park, Martin has an extremely bright future. He has an electric arm with an explosive fastball and multiple wipeout secondary pitches, which is why Houston was willing to draft him so high.
The Cypress native was ecstatic to be drafted by any team, but the fact that it was his hometown Astros, the team he has been a fan of since his childhood when the Killer B’s led them to the World Series in 2005, makes it even sweeter.
“I couldn’t get the smile off my face — it was awesome,” Martin recalls. “Growing up a Houston fan and growing up in that area and going to a hometown team is awesome. Seeing the smile on my mom’s face; that made it even better.”
Relief pitcher Cason Sherrod, one of Martin’s closest friends on the team, says he was overwhelmed with pride when the pick was announced but trusts that Martin will bring his ‘A’ game in what will be one of his last starts in maroon and white.
“He’s a great guy, he carries himself in a very respectful manner and obviously his stuff is great on the field and he takes care of himself off the field,” says Sherrod, a 13th round selection of the Kansas City Royals. “He’s a great team leader — someone everyone looks up to — and he has really been a consistent pitcher for us.”
“I expect nothing less than what he’s done in the past. He’s going to go out there and command his pitches very well and really set up the offense to have great success.”

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  • Martin faced 33 batters and recorded a 3.03 ERA. 

  • June 3, 2017: Texas A&M Aggies Baseball vs Iowa Hawkeyes in the NCAA Division 1 Regionals. Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics

    Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics
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