After Valley Stream North split its first six baseball games this spring, coach Phil Sanfilippo felt the lineup needed a little shakeup to get things headed in a positive direction.
One of the changes involved four-year varsity standout Anthony Martelli, who went from batting cleanup to the No. 2 hole. The switch paid immediate dividends April 11 when Martelli homered twice — his first round-trippers of the year — and drove in six runs to lead the Spartans to a 12-7 come-from-behind victory at Manhasset.
“It worked amazingly well,” Sanfilippo said of bumping Martelli up two slots in the order. “Anthony’s the type of hitter who fits anywhere. He batted third last year. He’s led off some games and also hit fifth during his career. He mentioned to the coaching staff after a few games he liked hitting second, and we liked him there.”
On June 12, Martelli, a two-time All-County shortstop/pitcher, was named the winner of the Diamond Award as the top position player in Nassau County. He batted .505 with nine homers, which led Long Island, 35 RBIs, 37 runs and 20 stolen bases. Four of his homers came in the playoffs.
“My hope coming into the season was for him to basically match the numbers he posted as a junior,” Sanfillipo said of Martelli, who hit .373 with three homers, 21 RBIs, 23 runs and 16 steals in 2012. “But he took things to a completely different level. He went from being a very good player to a dominant player.”
In addition to raking at the plate, Martelli was strong on the mound. The Spartans, who went 15-7 and reached the Class A quarterfinals, won all six games he started. Martelli was 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA and 30 strikeouts, and his best performance came in the second round of the playoffs when he beat North Shore, 3-1, and fanned nine.
“It’s hard to describe what it feels like to win [the Diamond Award],” said Martelli, who will play at New York Tech in the fall. “It was a goal of mine heading into senior year, but you never think it’s going to happen because it’s so difficult to win. All of the finalists are great players. It’s a real honor and I’ve been at a loss for words.”
Before coaching Martelli at the varsity level, Sanfilippo had the pleasure of doing so in 2008 as North’s seventh-grade coach. Sanfilippo said he’ll never forget a couple of Martelli’s blasts over the fence that year. “It was astonishing,” Sanfilippo said. “If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. He’s never been a big kid, but the ball has always exploded off his bat.”