After recording three wins in approximately 25 hours last weekend, Westmont’s Mitch Crocker has been named both the Golden State Athletic Conference and NAIA National Pitcher of the Week. Crocker earned the awards by helping the Warriors defeat the Lions of Vanguards in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday in Costa Mesa and both games of a doubleheader in Santa Barbara on Saturday. All three games were must-win scenarios if the Warriors were to advance to the postseason.
In Friday’s game, which was scheduled for seven innings, Crocker took the mound in the bottom of the seventh with three men on the base pads, two outs and the score tied at three. The right-hander coaxed Vanguard’s Alec Rosales to ground out to third to end the inning.
After Westmont scored three runs in the top of the eighth, Crocker returned to the mound and pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth to record the win.
In the first game on Saturday, Crocker was called upon in the seventh inning after the Warriors had given up five runs to fall behind 9-8. With two outs and runners on the corners, Crocker struck out Adonis Tountas to end the Lion’s rally.
After Crocker pitched a scoreless top of the eighth, Westmont’s Tim Leary belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to put the Warriors back on top 10-8. Crocker then retired the side in order in the top of the ninth to earn the second win.
Upon returning to the dugout, Crocker told his coaches that he was ready to go back out in the second game of the doubleheader.
“He came off the mound so jazzed up after closing the first game out,” said Westmont head coach Robert Ruiz. “He came in the dugout and he asked for the ball in the second game. Mitch was so convicted about it that we believed in it. We wanted to ride it out and see what he could do. We had (Ryan) Sullivan on short rest to take Mitch’s place in the back of the bullpen, but Mitch just kept going and wouldn’t give in. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He showed all of us how competitive he can be, how focused he can be and how good he can be.”
“I was just trying to get us through a couple of innings because I knew we were running thin (in the bullpen),” said Crocker. “I just wanted to help us out and help us get to the playoffs.”
Crocker pitched a complete game, giving the Warriors an 8-2 win. He gave up a single run in the second and the third innings, but kept the Lions scoreless in the final six innings.
Combined, Crocker threw 173 pitches in 12 and two-third innings of work. He allowed two runs on ten hits, struck out nine and walked three.
As a result of the three wins, Westmont earned the sixth seed in the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament, sending the Warriors to the postseason for the first time in 15 years.
Today, the Warriors started play in the double-elimination tournament by defeating fourth-ranked and top-seeded Azusa Pacific 12-5.