Sue Tenerowicz

Cal closer Erik Martinez is named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List

Cal closer Erik Martinez has been named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List, as the Bears start the 2017 season on Friday.

With the 2017 season-opener against Cal Poly just four days away, and the Bay Area College Baseball Media Day set for Tuesday, California closer Erik Martinez has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Watch List.

The award recognizes the premier relievers in college baseball. Martinez, who enters his junior season this week, tallied eight saves for Cal in 2016, stepping in for the injured projected closer, Alex Schick, who came back late in the season, and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins. As a junior, the righty went 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 24 appearances, striking out 45 in 37.1 innings, mainly with a slider-cutter mix.

As a freshman, Martinez went 3-1 with a team-leading 1.56 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 34.2 innings, with a career-high eight strikeouts against UC Irvine on Feb. 21, 2015, in 3.1 innings.

Martinez boasts a 2.38 career ERA, a 6-3 career win-loss mark, nine saves and 85 strikeouts to 35 walks in 72.0 innings.

The West Covina, Calif., native is one of six arms with collegiate experience that pitching coach Thomas Eager returns this season, and Martinez is the returning leader in appearances and strikeouts.

The Bears open against Eager's alma mater at Evans Diamond at 7:05 p.m., on Friday, with Saturday's game at 6:05 p.m., and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

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