Crawdads Pull a Comeback Out of the Hat With Fitzmagic
by Justin de Haas
The Texas boys reign supreme for the Walnut Creek Crawdads at McBean Stadium.
Walnut Creek relief pitcher Sean Fitzpatrick and right fielder Tyson Pointer aren’t just roommates, they were also the key factors for the Crawdads to mount another comeback victory. The Crawdads needed four runs in the sixth inning to tie the game and another three in the late innings to earn a 9-6 victory over the Lincoln Potters.
Fitzpatrick has not pitched four innings in a game since high school and he needed an effort like that to win the game for the Crawdads. The Spring native had his best performance with the Crawdads so far this summer and he credits that to improving as he pitched deeper into the outing.
“I didn’t have my best stuff like my slider and my changeup,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wasn’t really getting where I wanted it, like my changeup was a little too much up. Slider feel in the first inning wasn’t really good, so I mainly attacked with the heater just to throw something in there to keep them off balance. I just needed to work around it and make adjustments from inning to inning. By the end there, my command of the other two pitches was back and better, so I was able to attack with those.”
After hitting the first batter he faced, Fitzpatrick retired 12 of the last 13 batters and the only baserunner was from an error. The reliever attained eight strikeouts in his four innings of work despite facing one of the most formidable lineups in the California Collegiate League. That success stems from the confidence the Crawdad has in his repertoire.
“I was just able to get ahead,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think getting strike one and a good advantage count for me is super important. At that point, if I get 0-1 or 0-2, it’s almost over. I know that my stuff will win more times than not. Hitting is very hard. Hall of Famers only hit .300, so three out of 10 times.”
Fitzpatrick was able to utilize his arsenal to stymie the Lincoln lineup, but the Crawdads needed to provide run support for him to get the win and his roommate was able to help him with that. The stat sheet says that Pointer had two walks and one hit in the game, which was a RBI double to start the rally in the sixth inning, but he also reached on a bunt that was controversially ruled an error on the play. What the scorebook doesn’t say is how the Dallas native stole three bases, which was an unexpected part of the comeback considering he had four stolen bases on the season entering Saturday.
The Crawdads deployed small ball in their rally in the sixth as they only had one extra-base hit in the frame, which was Pointer’s double. The Potters used three pitchers in the inning because long reliever Treven Crowley only recorded one out in the sixth after pitching the prior three innings, allowing one earned in those frames. Crowley came in relief of starter Cooper Robinson, who only allowed a hit and pitched two innings despite pitching at least five innings in two of his first three outings of the summer.
Walnut Creek will look to win the rubber match against Lincoln at Monte Vista with Austin Berggren on the mound. The Crawdads are now five games up on the Potters and it is the way the ‘Dads have won games that gives them confidence that they can win this series on Sunday.
“I just really like the resilience of this team,” Fitzpatrick said. “Still staying in the game, even if we were down four at one point. I think that just speaks to how we are as a team. I don’t even know what number of comeback wins is at this point. I think for us just staying in the game, putting good at-bats together and keep hitting the ball hard like today. On the mound just keep attacking. You’re going to give up hits and runs, but if you just attack and limit walks then you’ll have success.”