GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) The JUCO World Series had some pretty memorable moments this year but one of the biggest performances came in the championship by a freshman pitcher. Iowa Western scored seven runs in the first inning but Mitchell DeCovich of Central Arizona handled the pressure, kept the Reivers in check and helped the Vaqueros win the national championship.
After giving up seven runs in the first inning, relief pitcher Mitchell DeCovich was thrown in to a difficult situation in the national title game for the Vaqueros. The freshman handled the pressure only allowing one unearned run in six innings to hold Iowa Western and give Central Arizona their first national championship since 2002.
"I mean, Mitchell DeCovich was unreal,” said head coach Anthony Gilich. “To start the year he was a redshirt. He wasn't going to pitch for us. We didn't un-redshirt him until after the first game of the year. To have him on that stage and that moment and to pitch that way, couldn't be more proud of him.”
"Mitchell DeCovich, freshman of the year,” sophomore pitcher Jonathan Stroman said. “That kid came out and just bulldogged it all the way through. He gave us a chance to win and honestly if it wasn't for that kid, I don't know we win that ball game."
DeCovich allowed only two hits and had six strikeouts in relief. He knew that if he could hold Iowa Western, his team would start to score runs.
"A lot of these guys are talented players so we know when we miss a pitch, they can do some damage,” said DeCovich. “Honestly, I was just doing whatever I could and those zeros helped big time."
There is no easy way to prep a freshman being put in to a championship game facing a seven run deficit, but coach Gilich kept it easy for the righty pitcher.
"I told him to go out there and just get us two zeros and he did better than that,” said Gilich. “He was unbelievable. We had faith in him. He was a guy that we had been asked earlier in the week, how's our pitching? We still have a couple of guys we feel good about. The biggest thing is he's not scared. I knew the moment wasn't going to be too big for him. He did an outstanding job."
DeCovich was prepared to do whatever it took to get a hold of that trophy.
"In my head I was thinking, if I need to blow my arm out to win a national championship, I’m going to do it,” said DeCovich. “Gilly didn't let me get to that point but I felt like I was getting to that point and I would have if I had to."
Central Arizona had to win their last seven games of the regular season just to make it to the playoffs. The team got hot and are now able to call themselves national champions.
"It felt amazing. We are just one huge family,” DeCovich said. “Everybody shows it and we all know it. I have no words to say what that feels like. It's just amazing. I've always dreamed of stuff like this happening, I just didn't think it would happen so soon."