WESTMONT – It was a big win, but there was no trip to Dairy Queen involved.
When Westmont’s baseball team topped Plano, 10-2, May 8, it clinched the Sentinels’ first Interstate Eight Conference North Division title and their first conference title in baseball since they won the Northeast Conference championship in 1978.
“It feels amazing, it really does,” Westmont coach D.J. Cocks said. “It’s amazing considering all the competition in our conference. It’s not easy to win conference, not by any means. To come out on top is something we wanted for a long time. The kids believed, they bought into it and they made it happen.”
Against Plano, Andrew Rosol pitched a complete game and allowed only three hits and two runs while walking just one batter as he improved to 2-0 on the mound. Charlie Donovan hit a two-run home run in the ball game, Robert Kokoszka was 2-for-3 with a run and RBI while Jean Pietrzak was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk.
Westmont lost its conference opener to Interstate Eight Conference South Division-foe Wilmington, then won 13 of its next 14 I-8 games to claim the title. The Sentinels had winning streaks of 10 and nine games as they finished the regular season 22-6 overall and 13-3 in conference. The 22 wins tied the 1999 team for second-most in program history.
While clinching conference was a big deal to Cocks and his players, he didn’t open his wallet for Dilly Bars and Blizzards like a Little League coach might have.
“We celebrated a little bit on the field and they deserved it, but that was about it,” Cocks said.
That’s because the conference title was just the first goal on Westmont’s checklist. Next up is winning a regional title, a quest that starts today. Cocks admitted losing the final two games of the regular season to Manteno and Illiana Christian were a bit of a letdown after the exhilaration of winning conference, but he had an idea of how to use those losses as motivation going forward.
“We weren’t as into it as much as we should have been,” Cocks said. “After the Illiana game I said, ‘Remember what it feels like to lose a game. We don’t like this feeling and we have to get it done in the playoffs so we don’t have this feeling again.’”