Jesse Ortiz-Martinez is going out on top.
Yes, the third-year starting shortstop for Sierra High and reigning MVP of the Valley Oak League has gotten enough out of baseball and is ready to take on life’s curveballs.
At the end of the Timberwolves’ remarkable 2019 season under then-first-year head coach Travis Thomson, Ortiz-Martinez looked ahead to another big year on the diamond and spoke to the Bulletin about his interest of playing ball at the next level. With the current shelter-in restrictions caused by COVID-19 leading to the cancellation of his senior season and along with the usual activities for graduates-to-be, he has had a lot of time to think about his future.
Turns out baseball won’t be a part of it.
“My dad always told me that you should have no regrets if you play your heart out all the time, and that’s what I did,” Ortiz-Martinez said. "I can say from the bottom of my heart that I did the best I could every single day whether it’s at practice or in a game. I have no regrets, as of right now. I’m not really sad about it.”
Ortiz-Martinez has managed to stay busy, as he has a job with FedEx while finishing up the rest of his studies via distance learning. After graduating, he’ll begin work toward becoming an electrician. It’s an occupation he has strongly considered since his freshman year at Sierra.
“With the career that I want to pursue, there’s a different route for it,” Ortiz-Martinez said. “I feel that if I went to college I would be wasting my time.”
His final and all-too-short senior season lasted eight games. The Timberwolves had an up-and-down start but played against top competition, going 5-3 with still three weeks to go until they were supposed to begin their defense of the VOL title.
Last year, Sierra went 21-4-1 while running the table in its 12-game league schedule. The T’wolves had a penchant for pulling out dramatic wins and fittingly ended the regular season with a thrilling sweep of rival East Union — they rallied in the seventh for a 2-1 win in the opener, and squeaked out Game 2, 3-2, in 10 innings.
Seeded No. 2 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, Sierra was knocked off by sophomore Stanford commit Tyler Uber and No. 10 Ponderosa in the second round. Ponderosa went on to claim the championship.
“A lot of those games I’ll never forget, especially the ones against East Union,” Ortiz-Martinez said. “That whole season was just unexpected for me. Our team just worked hard every single day, and for that to be the outcome was really exciting to achieve.”
He was a sophomore on the 2018 team that took third in the SJS Division III playoffs. Ortiz-Martinez said he does not feel cheated out of an opportunity to advance to the section final, choosing instead to celebrate what he did get to achieve — like earning league MVP.
Ortiz-Martinez ended his junior season with a .364 batting average and led the Timberwolves in hits (28), runs (20) and extra-base hits (nine). He also had an .895 fielding percentage.
“That was awesome,” he said. “Getting MVP in my last full season of baseball is a perfect way to go out. I would say I am very happy with the way my baseball career ended and it’s definitely something I will look back on proudly.”