For his final act, Mitch Cox pitched Newark Catholic to its seventh state baseball championship.
It wasn’t scripted, but the way it unfolded it could have been in NC’s 2-1 victory. Pitching out of jams — tying run on third at the end — in his fourth and final attempt at a state title after losing in the 2010 state basketball and baseball finals, and the 2012 state football championship.
“That’s kind of how Mitch is. He likes to make a show,” said older sister Amy, who played on state title and state runner-up volleyball teams at NC. “Everything played out almost like a movie.
“You couldn’t help but hurt for those seniors. They had been so close before. When it was over, he yelled up at the entire family: ‘Finally.'”
Mitch Cox capped a four-year varsity career by not only helping the Green Wave make state finals in football and baseball, but also helping NC basketball win another district championship and its first outright Mid-State League-Ohio Division title as a starting guard. He is The Advocate’s 2013 Male Athlete of the Year.
He had to mature quickly, starting at second base as a freshman beside his senior brother Kevin at first in the 2010 state final, also seeing action in NC’s state final loss in basketball to Dayton Jefferson his brother also played in.
“Getting that experience as a freshman really helped him mature into a great leader,” said Kevin Cox, a backup quarterback who won a playoff game in NC’s 2007 state football title run. “As he matured, he became a better and better leader, and become more smart and composed on the field. It really showed in the state title game.”
“Guy at third base, two outs, state title on the line. It’s something you imagine in your backyard all the time,” Mitch Cox said. “My favorite inning was when they had the guy at third with no one out. I said: ‘He’s not scoring.’ It was the turning point of the game.
“During my experience as a freshman, I didn’t realize how much winning state titles meant to this community and school. (Classmate) Drew Buchanan coming up big in the semifinals was huge and allowed me to pitch in this game.”
“I got to go to school with this senior class for one year, and it’s just a fantastic group of kids,” Kevin Cox said. “No matter what they did, they went all out, all the time.”
Mitch Cox, a receiver-defensive back, had to leave the 2012 state football final with an injury. But that wasn’t going to keep him out of the game. Kicker Mike Lohr, also Cox’s baseball teammate, wasn’t looking forward to having a backup holder for extra points during such a tight game.
“Our sophomore backup holder was getting ready, but you could tell he really didn’t want any part of it,” Lohr said. “Well, Mitch hobbles over and says: ‘I can do this.’ And he did.
“He’s an ideal teammate, always there for you off the field, at school, after school, in classes, as a friend.”
Baseball coach John Cannizzaro said Mitch Cox showed much fortitude.
“(He’s) mentally tough and a proven gamer,” Cannizzaro said. “He had quickness, all-around athletic ability and was not afraid to mix it up, always seemed to perform well for us in tough situations. He’s very coachable, and is the type of guy who as he got older, we would take his input because he’s very intelligent.
“He’s always been a team guy. Even when he’s in the dugout and not playing, he’s helping guys to stay in the game mentally, pay attention to what’s going on.”
Cannizzaro said all three sports helped Cox with his ability.
“He was in some big games in all three of them,” he said.
As Amy and Kevin Cox like to say of their fortunate family who grew up green: “We’ve all won state titles, and we’ve all lost state titles.”
“I’ve lost in three state title games, but not many teams can get there,” Mitch Cox said.
As he heads off to Ashland University, where he’ll major in business finance, Mitch Cox will concentrate on baseball.
“He’ll get stronger, and he’ll be fine,” Cannizzaro said. “He’s already there mentally.”
Mitch Cox is glad to have played all three sports, although they took up almost all of his time.
“Playing three sports non-stop, you’re always on the go and it keeps you busy,” he said. “But I don’t regret it, and I would do it again. It was the best four years of my life, both academically and athletically.”