Ever since Jackson baseball player Tyler Martin started pitching in little league, he said he becomes nervous before every start on the mound.
This happens because the teams he’s pitching against are usually the best, but he is able to calm himself down right before the game.
The calmness comes when Martin is in the bullpen and he is hitting all of his pitches, which gives him the confidence to take the mound.
In Martin’s 10 starts for the Indians as a junior this season, he produced a program single-season record of 9-0, breaking Tyler Beussink’s record of 8-0 set in 2005.
Martin also broke Beussink’s earned run average record of 0.95 with a 0.77 as he only allowed 12 runs in all of 2018.
“I know there have been a lot of great pitchers in this program before me,” Martin said. “Jackson is a big school, so there’s been a lot of players, but it hasn’t really gotten to me yet how big [this season was]. I’m sure once I graduate and look back on it I’ll say, ‘Hey, that’s my name right there.’”
Eight of the 12 runs Martin allowed came against crosstown rival Cape Central in his fourth start of the season on April 9. Jackson was still able to defeat the Tigers 9-8 behind Martin’s eight strikeouts, but he was able to get his own revenge in the SEMO Conference Tournament.
“The Cape Central game was one of those were it’s like, ‘How does he handle a bounce back,’” Jackson head coach Bryan Austin said. “He just had a big-time game against Poplar Bluff and now he’s against a Cape team who kind of hit him around the first time. He made some changes since that game, so how does he react? He completely shuts them out.”
The Indians blanked Central 10-0 in the tournament semifinals on April 28, thanks to Martin throwing his second no hitter of the season.
Martin’s first no hitter came 11 days earlier in his last start, which was against conference and Class 5 District 1 opponent Poplar Bluff through seven innings.
One thing Jackson head coach Bryan Austin raves about Martin’s game is how quickly he is able to get threw an inning, a skill that was showcased during his no hitters. Martin said he works fast because he does not like to think too much about what he is doing.
Heading into the game against the Mules, Martin believed Poplar Bluff’s offense was going to be able to have success against him with hits and runs. This was not the case.
Martin was on pace for a perfect game since a single batter had yet to reach base until the seventh and final inning with two outs.
Up to bat standing infront of the SEMO Conference Pitcher of the Year’s perfect game with one out to go was the eventual SEMO Conference Player of the Year senior Turner Fritts.
Martin’s first three pitches were balls followed by a strike, but his fifth pitch would end his perfect game as it was another ball to walk Fritts and put him on base.
With one runner on base and only one out to go, Poplar Bluff’s next batter senior Mason Libla grounded and reached on an error.
This kept Martin’s no hitter alive, and the junior secured the feat in the next at bat by striking out sophomore Sam Persons for his fifth K of the game.
“Back-to-back no hitters is unheard of,” Coach Austin said. “… The Poplar Bluff game you could see early on from the bullpen he was absolutely on. His breaking ball was moving more than it already does and it’s a plus, plus breaking ball. … We knew going into that game, ‘This has a chance to be fun to watch.’”
Games like this is what led Martin to being named conference pitcher of the year, all-district and to the Class 5 All-State first team.
Martin is the first player for Jackson to be named first team all-state since 2005 when Jason Meystedt did so as an outfielder. Beussink was named to the second team with his record-setting season that year.
“First team all-state definitely surprised me if I’m being honest,” Martin said. “I guarantee you I’m the slowest pitcher on [that list]. Going into this season I did not expect any of that. To be all-conference, all-district and all-state means a lot to me, but it just means I’ve got to work even harder to repeat that success.”
Martin will be the only pitcher who was named first team all-state in Class 5 returning for the 2018 season.
As a member of the Jackson Senior Legion 158 team this summer, Martin continued his success by going 5-0 overall with an ERA of 0.25 and 21 strikeouts.
One primary focus Martin has had this offseason is improving his velocity, which is something college coaches recruiting Martin are looking at as well.
“He has some junior colleges and Division-II schools on him right now, and [Southeast Missouri State] is interested as well because he just wins,” Coach Austin said. “There’s no evaluation of, ‘Hey, you win. You’re 9-0 with a 0.77 and faced the toughest competition there is. Somehow you get it done.’ That’s intriguing to a lot of people.
“I think he’ll be a guy who will end up signing right before the season or the end of the season. He’s going to be that type of guy because people are going to follow him along to see what his velocity creeps at. When you talk about velocity and no velocity at the end of the day, the kid wins.”
Austin went on to say he personally believes Martin will sign locally to play Division-I at Southeast because Martin will be able to strike out players at that level. He said he doesn’t know where he’ll go, but that he’ll hopefully have plenty of options.
“Coach Austin really likes to help players get to the next level,” Martin said. “He pushes everybody to their limit — he knows what everybody is capable of and he’ll push them beyond that. I’m excited to see what happens next year.”