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The Battalion

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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Putting it all Together

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Corbin Martin picked up his fourth win of the season Saturday, pitching a career-high eight innings in the process. 

It’s no secret Corbin Martin has an electric arm.
Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said at the beginning of the season that Martin has one of the most beautiful throwing motions of all the pitchers he’s ever coached.
Every time A&M outfielder Walker Pennington sees someone from another team hitting against Martin, he thanks his lucky stars that he’s a senior and won’t ever have to face Martin again in a preseason scrimmage or practice. Pennington swears he has struck out in each of his last 10 at-bats against Martin and sometimes feels sorry for others who have to step into the box against him.
“For a right-hander it’s just devastating. You know he has the stuff, and it seems like he throws eight different pitches,” Pennington said. “Sometimes he doesn’t even know what it’s going to do — most of the time he does — but he’s got a cutter, a slider, a curveball, a 2-seam and it’s all hard.”
Martin, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander from Cypress, entered the season with high expectations as the Aggies’ closer. He had scouts drooling after he pitched to a 1.15 ERA in 14 appearances against some of college baseball’s best hitters in the Cape Cod League, widely recognized as the preeminent summer league in the country. He built on that success in the fall, where he pitched so well that’s Kendall Rogers called him the best pitcher he saw from all the schools he visited in the fall.
His season got off to a rough start, though. He was blowing up radar guns with an explosive fastball registering in the high 90s, but he was erratic and continued to battle the inconsistency that had plagued him throughout his first two seasons in Aggieland.
After he surrendered a walk-off grand slam against Baylor in the Minute Maid Classic, his ERA rose to an unsightly 9.72. Childress took him from the closer’s role and moved him to middle relief, and Martin began to churn out quality outing after quality outing.
He made a concerted effort to dial back his fastball — throwing it in the low 90s instead of the mid-to-high 90s — and focused on not only throwing more strikes, but locating his pitches better to throw quality strikes down in the zone.
Then, after getting swept by Kentucky in the Aggies’ opening SEC series, Childress did something that came as a surprise to some: He inserted Martin, whose ERA was still hovering above 4.50, into the starting rotation. Childress realized his pitching staff needed a spark, and he figured moving Mitchell Kilkenny to the back-end of the bullpen and letting Martin start a few games might be just what A&M needed.
“He’d quietly put a nice run together,” Childress said, “and obviously the places that we had the guys in the puzzle weren’t working.”
Martin, who says he likes starting better than relieving, was also surprised at his coach’s move but appreciated the boost of confidence.
“I had been throwing pretty good in a long-relief role, but I just didn’t think it would come so quickly — I was pumped up about it,” said Martin, who is 3-3 with a 4.33 ERA heading into this weekend’s series against Alabama. “Being able to have a coach that has all the confidence in the world in you and continuously gives me the opportunities instead of just giving up means a lot.”
He pitched fairly well against Rice, allowing two runs in three innings, and then followed that up five days later by pitching four innings of one-run ball against Vanderbilt. He threw 111 pitches in those four innings but did not get much help from his defense, especially in the fourth inning, where he basically had to get six outs after two errors and a strikeout that got past the catcher.
“We killed him on defense in that one inning and he completely bailed us out and gave us a chance to win,” said assistant coach Justin Seely.
Last weekend against LSU, Martin was at his best. He was efficient — throwing only 99 pitches in a career-high eight innings — and rebounded nicely after he allowed a two-run homer to Tigers shortstop Kramer Robertson on a fastball that missed its spot up in the zone. He put up zero after zero on the scoreboard after that Robertson dinger, keeping the game close and allowing the Aggies to ultimately come back and win.
“I feel like that’s the best I’ve seen him pitch during his time here at Texas A&M. He’s transformed into a pitcher,” Childress said. “Nobody’s questioning the arm or the stuff, it’s just about going out there and pitching.”
Pennington says that fourth inning against Vandy was pivotal for Martin. After being vulnerable to the big inning and having a tendency to let things snowball out of control with him on the mound, Martin continued executing his pitches and limited the damage to one run against the Commodores.
“I think that was the turning point where he kind of went, ‘Even when stuff’s not going my way I’m going to get up there and throw my best pitches,’” Pennington said. “He was just masterful against LSU and I think for him he has the stuff and when he gets a little traffic on the bases he’s getting really good at executing the next pitch and getting out of jams a lot better.”
Said third baseman George Janca: “He’s got that demeanor about him, and it’s good to see him pitching like he is. He goes out there and knows that he’s better than anyone that steps in the box and it’s fun to watch.”
Martin is still pitching with reduced fastball velocity, which he says allows him to pitch deeper into games and lessens the wear and tear on his arm. It is also a nice luxury for him to know he has the mid-to-high 90s juice in his back pocket that he can unleash if he needs to get out of a tight spot.
“I always know it’s going to be in the tank if I need it,” Martin said. “But ever since I toned it down and started to control it better, I’ve been able to pitch better.”
Through all the ups and downs, Martin has remained a positive influence in the Aggies’ clubhouse. He has won the team’s Spirit Award in both his years as an Aggie for contributing to team unity and providing valuable leadership on and off the field. It is an award in which he takes tremendous pride, and he is vying to win it again in 2017.
Martin is one of the original masterminds behind the bubbles that flood Olsen Field after the Aggies score a run, an act that has become a vaunted Texas A&M baseball tradition since its inception in 2015.
“He’s a guy that breaks the tension,” Janca said. “When we’re not going good or the tension is kind of getting high, he’s always the one to relax everybody and say a joke or do something stupid to get everybody loose.”
As the season progresses into May and June, the Aggies are relying on Martin to impact the team on the mound as well as in the dugout. The dynamic arsenal of pitches has always been there for him, and now he’s found a way to channel that into getting outs as the team’s No. 2 starter.
He struggled a bit in his last start against Auburn, giving up three runs in three innings, and he will try to get back to his LSU form this weekend against the Crimson Tide. The series opens Thursday in Tuscaloosa with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.
“He started putting the competitive piece together with the pitchability piece,” said assistant coach Justin Seely. “I’m very happy for him. Everyone knows how great a teammate he is, how much his teammates like him, how much the coaches like him and how much we root for him, and it’s just fun to see the fruits of his labor come out on the field.”

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  • Junior reliever Corbin Martin struck out four batters in 2.1 solid innings in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Texas. 

    Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker
  • The Aggies have won all four games Corbin Martin has started in 2017, and he has racked up 23 strikeouts in those starts.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
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