Valley Baseball League: Flores & Martinez From Teammates to Rivals & Sandefur The Freshman General
On July 2nd of this summer, the Haymarket Senators played against the Covington Lumberjacks in a game that didn’t have much significance in the race for 1st place. The Haymarket Senators are in no danger of losing the leagues lead in the standings to an 8th place Covington Lumberjacks. What does have a note of relevance is the fact that each of the two teams features a player that’s leading the league in hitting after being teammates this past spring at Florida International.
The Haymarket Senators have 1B/DH RudyFlores leading the league with a batting average of .478 after 67 at bats. Flores also leads the league in slugging (.612) and went 3 for 4, with a run scored and 2 RBI’s in his latest game against the Winchester Royals. This past spring at Florida International, Flores was an absorbing hitter in the middle of the lineup. He was only a freshman when he hit a 3 run homerun against South Alabama, and went 4 for 7 against Florida Atlantic in the Sun Belt Championships. Flores was also given the opportunity to play in the NCAA Regional tournament where he was not of much impact as Florida International lost 2 consecutive games and were quickly eliminated.
Flores’s college teammate is Mike Martinez, but this summer Martinez plays for the Covington Lumberjacks. His batting average is not to be scuffed at (.324) after 74 at bats, coupled with his league leading 5 homeruns and 24 RBI’s, Martinez is delivering a much needed excitement to a struggling Lumberjack team. In his latest game against the Lurray Wranglers Martinez went 0 for 4, and hasn’t had a hit since an amazing 3 for 4 showing against the Royals where he had a double and a homerun with 2 RBI’s. Martinez has become the cleanup hitter for the Lumberjacks, and after his experience of hitting behind the media gripping Garrett Wittels at Florida International, he’s building a respectable summer. Sometimes certain life experiences elevate characters, passions, and even potentials. Martinez started the college post season by going 2 for 4, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI’s against Troy in the final game of the Sun Belt Championships. Then, in the final game of their NCAA regional tournament, Martinez hit a homerun despite Florida International being eliminated by Dartmouth. In the latest game in which the two actually played against each other, Martinez didn’t get a hit, and Flores shined with 2 run producing singles as the Haymarket Senators beat the Covington Lumberjacks 7-5.
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The Waynesboro Generals are also close to the bottom in the standings, but they do have a respectable team pitching (3.70) which ranks them 3 rd in the league. Taylor Sandefur is 6’2 right handed freshman that is holding his ground as one of the best pitching performers in the league so far. Sandefur has pitched 39.2 innings and has powered his way to 44 strikeouts, 2.04, and a record of 4-0. In his last game against the Harrisburg Turks, Sandefur went for 7 innings on 7 hits and 3 runs while striking out 6 in capturing his 4th win of the summer. As a freshman this past spring at Western Carolina, Sandefur pitched in 19 games for 50.1 innings and 24 strikeouts. The key for him will be to lower the amount of walks he allows so that he can focus on the hitters he’s facing. Opposing hitters hit .294 against him at college, but in the game that Sandefur started against Appalachian State in the Southern Conference Tournament at Riley Park, he went 7.1 innings, scattering six hits, and 2 earned runs. Although he didn’t figure in the decision, Western Carolina lost the tightly fought game 3-2. Our lives are made up of various experiences during different phases of time. In baseball, just as in life, we as people must make good use of both negative and positive learning cycles. So if after a mediocre season you shine like a super nova in the last game of the season, it should be what catapults you into a summer league like that of Valley Baseball. Then the future should be smiled at, knowing that it’s not your best foot being put forward, it’s being confident and content with the fact that it’s the only foot you have to kick it with.
By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer