Chad Martin hears the occasional joke. The Quince Orchard senior, who pitches and plays first base, already stands 6 feet 4. The back brace he wears nearly every hour of the day forces him to stand up straight.
“Sometimes people make fun of how upright I walk,” Martin said.
The Cougars’ baseball coach, Jason Gasaway, sees it a different way.
“If anything, it’s helped him,” Gasaway said. “He doesn’t overswing.”
That has helped Martin cut down on his strikeouts and on Monday, he doubled twice, singled and drove in four runs as Quince Orchard clinched the second seed in the Maryland 4A West Region with an 8-2 victory over visiting Blake.
Alex Thoms pitched a five-hitter and drove in two runs for the Cougars (15-4), who have won regional titles in six of the past seven seasons.
Part of the reason for Quince Orchard’s high hopes this season is its pitching. Thoms and Daniel Fishback have established themselves as the team’s top two pitchers, while Martin has adjusted to coming on in relief after working as a starter last season.
He had hoped to be one of the team’s starting pitchers this season, but was injured during a preseason weightlifting workout. Martin was doing squats when he felt a pop in his back. He was barely able to walk as he left school that afternoon, but hoped it was nothing serious, maybe a slight strain.
“As time went on, it wasn’t getting any better,” Martin said. “So I went to a doctor.”
X-Rays and a bone scan revealed a stress fracture, forcing him to miss the beginning of the season. Then he tried to return too quickly, forcing two weeks off with no activity.
“But I wasn’t missing this season for anything,” Martin said. “I can’t miss my senior season, especially with our capabilities this year. We expect to go pretty far. I can’t let my team down like that.”
Martin singled in a run in the first inning, doubled in two more in the fourth and doubled in another in the fifth as the Cougars scored in every inning.
Cody Acker tripled twice and scored both runs for Blake (8-7).