Nick Martini grew up near Crystal Lake and loved attending Cubs’ games at Wrigley Field.
But on Friday night at Great American Ballpark, he relished a moment in which he helped the Cincinnati Reds beat the favorite team of his boyhood.
Martini ripped a one-out homer in the ninth inning off of Cubs reliever Adbert Alzolay that tied the score. A few batters later, Noelvi Marte delivered a walk-off single as the Reds beat the Cubs 3-2 to split their doubleheader.
The Cubs won the first game 6-2. They were set up for the sweep before Martini’s 418-foot shot to right-center field tied it at 2-2.
The win kept the Reds one game out in their chase for the National League’s third wild-card berth.
“It’s hard to describe honestly,” said Martini, a 2008 Prairie Ridge graduate who played for the Cubs in 2021. “Just a big moment for me, especially with how long a road it’s been for me the last couple years. It was fun.
“It was massive for us, especially against a team like that, who’s been playing well. To be able to come back like that in the ninth gives us a good boost.”
Martini played in Korea last season and spent most of this year with the Louisville Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.
“It’s been an easy transition,” said Martini, who hit .275 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 93 games with Louisville. “A lot of guys have been great to me, the guys that I played with are a lot of fun to play with. There’s a lot of energy. It’s been a blast.”
After Martini’s shot, Christian Encarnacion-Strand singled and Stuart Fairchild came on to pinch run. Will Benson struck out and Fairchild stole second base, then advanced to third on catcher Yan Gomes’ throwing error.
Marte then came up and singled in the game-winner.