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85 AND COUNTING

Also See: Pullen, Kelly Earn Bids to Portsmouth Invitational

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - It was May, 31, 2009, at the NCAA Regional against Rice that Nick Martini was last skunked at the plate and from the bases when he went 0-for-4 with a pair of ground outs, a strike out and a fly out.

Had one told the Wildcat outfielder that he was going to start a string of games the next day that would number 85 where he would reach base at least once by hit, by walk or by hit-by-pitch ... well, he would have exclaimed, "Yeah, April Fools."

Well, that's exactly what happened Friday, April 1, 2011, as the Crystal Lake, Ill., product is still hitting, being hit and walking on a streak that numbers 85 games heading into today's 4 p.m. contest on Fox Sports Kansas City at K-State's Tointon Family Stadium against No. 5 Texas A&M.

In case you were wondering, the NCAA record is believed to be 86 games set by Elon's Cory Harrilchak set from April 4, 2008, through May 21, 2009.

Friday night in a 6-3 K-State loss to the Aggies, Martini did more than his part with four hits, upping his average to .356 for the season.

"If I told you I didn't think about it, I'd be lying," said Martini, who has an on-base percentage of .500 during the streak. "It is pretty neat to get on base that many games in a row. I try not to be selfish. I'll do whatever it takes to get on base."

The Wildcat outfielder leads the team in hitting, plus has a team-high 20 walks and has been hit by pitches four times.

Entering the season, Martini had a career .376 average -- .336 as a freshman and .416 last year - with 68 walks and had been hit by pitches 17 times.

Of the unusual high number of walks, Martini said it started back in his youth days with the coaching coming from his father, Scott.

"He stressed early in my career just to get on base and trust the guys hitting behind you to drive you in," said Martini, who has reached base in 135 of his 145 career starts with hits in 114 of those games. "He stressed being patient and not letting the pitcher get you out with his stuff. The best way to help the team is to get on base."

This season Martini has eight multiple-hit games, eight one-hit games and nine games where he failed to get a hit, but still found a way to get on base.

He entered the weekend hitting just .200 (5-of-25) in the first six Big 12 games, but found a way to get on base in each of those six games against Texas and Baylor.

"I'm going to be patient up there," said Martini. "I'm not going to chase a pitcher's pitch early in the count. I'm going to do everything I can to get on base and hit a hard line drive. I'm not going to be a guy who's going to hit 10-15 home runs. I'm going to try to get on base for the team, hit the ball in the gaps and use my legs."

With those legs Martini has six infield hits this year and has swiped nine bases in 12 attempts.

"He takes quality at-bats, which is what everybody is trying to do, but he does it more consistently than almost anyone," said Texas coach Augie Garrido. "He hurts you by taking the walks he should take. He hurts you by the hits he gets, he hurts you by the runs he drives in. He hurts you by the productive outs he makes."

That was never more evident than last year when Martini set the K-State record with a 26-game hitting streak, which included a K-State record of 71 singles in a season and a Big 12-leading .416 batting average.

He was rewarded with Big 12 Conference Co-Player of the Year honors and was named a second-team All-American.

Of that success, Martini says, "I still have to work hard, but there are some things with the hand-eye coordination that makes hitting a little easier for me than for some people. I just go out with the same attitude and approach every day. I guess it leads to success."

Success measured by seasons of 43, 37 and 15 K-State wins, which includes the first two NCAA Regionals in Wildcat baseball history.

"It's come to the point where we know we can do it," said Martini of reaching postseason play. "Two years ago it was a goal, and now it's an expectation."

And while Martini's 6-foot-0, 192-pound frame doesn't scream Major League Baseball, as the legendary Garrido says, "If you see him in a uniform, he doesn't jump out at you as a prospect. But my definition of a prospect and a ballplayer are very different. One looks very good in a uniform. The other doesn't look good in a uniform, and his uniform is torn up and tattered because of the way he plays. Martini is that kind of player."


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.