Starting at catcher and batting in the middle of the order as a sophomore on a state championship team was a great opportunity for Gian Martellini. But the Bishop Hendricken standout did not confuse a great opportunity with a great year.
He was still learning the catcher’s position and he didn’t hit as well as he wanted to.
“I thought it was an OK year,” he said.
Even under his high expectations, he had to say 2014 was a little better than OK. Martellini became the offensive force he was always projected to be, hitting .467 in the regular season and leading the team with 41 RBI as the Hawks won their third consecutive state championship. He was named Rhode Island’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
“Gian had a huge year for us, hitting, knocking in runs, batting in the middle of order,” coach Ed Holloway said. “He came through time and again in clutch situations.”
Martellini was pegged for big things from the moment he hit the baseball field at Bishop Hendricken. After starring for the freshman team, he got the call to play American Legion baseball that summer, the usual path for Hawks baseball stardom. He became the starting catcher in 2013 and helped the Hawks win the title.
In the off-season, he committed to play baseball at Vanderbilt University – who will play for a national championship this week – and then delivered the kind of season you’d expect from a top-level Division I commit.
His presence in the middle made Hendricken’s order one of its most fearsome in years. And on defense, Martellini finally felt at home behind the plate.
“He did a good job catching this year,” Holloway said. “It was only his second year as a catcher. It’s a thing that’s cliché, but a good catcher makes your pitching staff better. But without a doubt, he did that. He made them better than maybe they would have been without a good catcher.”
In the state championship series, Martellini helped the Hawks rally from an eighth-inning deficit to take game one in dramatic fashion. His two-out single kept the rally going, and if not for the respect La Salle showed him, the hit might have been the final out.
“La Salle was playing so deep because they had so much respect for Gian,” Holloway said. “If they weren’t playing that deep, that ball is probably caught and the game’s over. But they were trying to prevent him from hitting it into the gap.”
Hendricken went on to the win then finished off a sweep the next day. It was exactly how Martellini and the Hawks drew it up.
“It was an awesome year,” Holloway said.