USC's Martin to return for senior season

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - It turns out the lure of professional baseball won't be enough to get South Carolina first baseman Kyle Martin to leave the Gamecocks. At least not yet.

Despite being selected by the Angels in the 20th round of this past weekend's Major League Baseball draft, Martin decided on Wednesday to put his pro baseball career on hold and return to South Carolina for his senior season.

"I love this university, I love this baseball program and Iâ??m just not ready to leave all that this great place provides me," said Martin. "This was not an easy decision and I appreciate the Angels drafting me. However, after talking it over with my family, Coach Holbrook and the staff and Coach Tanner, Iâ??ve decided that I want to come back and help lead the 2015 team."

Martin will be the only returning player out of seven drafted this year, including Grayson Greiner, Jordan Montgomery and Joey Pankake. That unit was a part of a highly touted junior class that won 138 games in its three years with the program.

The first baseman was able to take a bigger role with the team in 2014 as an everyday player after spending the past few seasons as a reserve. Martin finished the season as the team's leading hitter with a .336 average and 82 hits, including five home runs and 38 RBI.

"We are thrilled to have Kyle back for another year," said South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook. "Kyle is the best defensive first baseman in the country and one of our top hitters. To have his bat in the middle of the lineup one more season is huge and we appreciate his desire and passion to want to don the Garnet & Black one more time."

Martin is a mechanical engineering major and was named to the 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll. It appears education was a major part of his decision to stay in school.

"I am looking forward to another season at Carolina Stadium in front of the best fans in the country." said Martin. "It is also important for me to earn my degree and I'm grateful to the entire University community that is helping me get closer to achieving that goal."

Martin is a career .318 hitter for the Gamecocks with eight home runs and 60 RBI.