Martir's pedigree helps Grand Street prosper
Kevin Martir watched his teammates celebrate and smiled with the satisfaction of someone who’s been there before.
After all, the senior Grand Street catcher/third baseman was celebrating his second consecutive championship, albeit this time around his surroundings were Coney Island’s MCU Park instead of St. John’s University.
The Maryland commit was a pivotal part in Xaverian winning last season’s CHSAA AA Division championship and played no less of a role in Grand Street’s victory over George Washington in the PSAL Class AA championship Friday night.
“Today’s game felt a lot bigger than last season’s because the crowd was amazing and everybody was into it and it was a close game,” Martir said. “Last year, we [Xaverian] won by like six runs so this felt like a more energetic game.”
There hasn’t been much documentation on whether a player has won in both leagues but as far as Grand Street coach Melvin Martinez is concerned, Martir is the first to do it.
“No one has done what he’s done,” Martinez said. “To win in both leagues is unprecedented and Kevin has a piece of history.”
Martir joined the team this season after transferring from Xaverian and right away, Martinez knew that he had a stud on his hands. Following the departure of Red Sox draftee Williams Jerez, Martinez was left with a huge hole in his lineup.
“I said it before and I’ll say it again,” Martinez said. “When I lost Williams Jerez, God gave me Kevin Martir. And what a gift he was.”
The team has been looking to Martir all season because of his championship pedigree and he has been a steady source of inspiration.
“Kevin was a leader and a captain and his actions spoke volumes,” Martinez said. “When he spoke to the team, they listened. A lot of kids have respect for a player like that.”
“His experience definitely helped,” said senior shortstop and fellow Maryland recruit Jose Cuas. “He told us the mentality we should have. He told us to play every game like a normal game. There were moments where people tensed up and he was there to pick them up.”
Immediately after making his transition, Martir knew that he would be looked upon to serve in a position of leadership and it’s something he’s always embraced.
“We always seemed like a championship team on paper, but in the beginning we weren’t together as we are now,” Martir said. “I got everybody together one day and we spoke about it. I told them that we’ve been there before and I know what it feels like. I said that for us to win a championship, we have to be all in.”
Now with a second championship under his belt, Martir is turning his sights to Maryland, where he is looking forward to playing with childhood friend and current teammate, Cuas.
“It feels good to be able to play with Jose next year because he’s a long time friend,” Martir. “It boosts my confidence because I will feel comfortable. I will have someone to lean on that will be there to help me. Hopefully we bring the championship quality over there. Anywhere I go, I just try to bring leadership because it makes everyone around me feel comfortable.”
“We’ve played together our whole lives,” Cuas added. “Hopefully that doesn’t change soon as we are able to go to Maryland to play together.”
Martinez has no doubt that Martir and Cuas will excel on the next level and pointed out that Maryland will be gaining much more than they even anticipate.
“They’ll bring a winning attitude,” Martinez said. “They’re two gems and scholar athletes on and off the field. Maryland hit the jackpot.”