ELMHURST — Being the son of a former major league pitcher could be a lot to live up to.
In the case of York senior River Pitlock, he doesn’t worry about living up to his father, former White Sox pitcher Skip Pitlock. He has simply taken advantage of the experience his father has.
“Probably ever since I was born he put a ball in my hand,” River said. “I just felt that I would be the best player that I could be and hopefully one day I can do what he did.”
River is the composed leader, ace and No. 3 hitter of the Dukes. His talent as a pitcher helped him earn a scholarship to play for Butler next year.
He started primarily as a hitter until around eighth grade when a growth spurt helped him as a pitcher. At that point, his father’s knowledge and nurturing took over.
“It’s good having a father that knows the game and knows how to teach me everything,” River said. “When I’m here pitching and I’m on the bump I always know where he is. He doesn’t like to stand next to the stands. He’s always down the line or something and he’ll tell me to keep the ball down. He’ll give me pointers while I’m out on the mound. We understand each other.”
Of course, at some point, Skip wanted to be a father and not a coach. River has been working with different coaches and trainers recently.
“It gets to a point where he’s taught me everything I know and now he wants to give me off to other trainers,” River said. “He said that now he’s a dad figure and he wants me to hear it from someone else.”
When he heads to Butler he will hear it from more new coaches. The Bulldogs recruited him mostly to pitch, but he hopes he can earn some at-bats as well.
Before then, River is trying to guide the Dukes to a strong finish to the season. After getting swept by Oak Park-River Forest and Downers Grove North in conference series the Dukes are out of the race to defend their West Suburban Silver title, but a playoff run could be on the cards if York can get rolling. Pitlock included his own play as part of the Dukes’ struggles.
“I feel I should be doing better than what I have been showing,” he said. “I think as the time goes the pitching will carry us through and our hitting will come along.”