Fitka becomes 7th Alaskan to pitch all 9 innings at D1 level

April 22, 2018

Joe Fitka baseball

Joe Fitka

As a closer on a struggling team, Anchorage’s Joe Fitka figured the best way to get an opportunity to finish a game was to start one.

Then he went out and still finished it.

The Chicago State University sophomore right-hander threw a 5-hit complete game on 140 pitches to highlight a 4-3 walkoff win over Utah Valley University in the Western Athletic Conference.

“I felt good,” Fitka told me. “My splitter got me some good Ks; my curve was a little up at times but pretty good when needed; and my fastball was on command for the most part.”

Fitka, of Dimond High fame, walked two, struck out five and gave up just one earned run.

Chicago State fell behind 3-0 after an error allowed two unearned runs to score, but Fitka stayed strong and didn’t focus on the score.

“I just decided that I needed to get my team back into the game and I went out there and put up zeros, which let my team have a good opportunity to score some runs,” he said. “I wouldn’t go as far as best outing of my life, but yes it was a great outing and I look forward to more good outings in the future. My stuff was on. Never know what you got until you are throwing your warm-ups.”

Fitka is just the sixth Alaska pitcher to throw all 9 innings in a NCAA D1 game.

The other five are Anchorage’s Max Karnos with Sacramento State in 2016, Sitka’s Matt Way with Washington State in 2009, Anchorage’s Corey Madden with Saint Mary’s in 2006, Anchorage’s Anton Maxwell with Oregon State in 2005, Juneau’s Dylan Hickey with Dayton in 2003 and Kenai’s Kevin Stalker with Eastern Washington in 1986.

Fitka improved his record to 1-2 in 13 appearances, including four starts. He also owns a team-best three saves, making him one of only three Alaskans to get a win and a save in the same D1 season, joining Madden in 2006 and Juneau’s Chad Bentz with Long Beach State in 2001.

“I think that’s a pretty crazy thing to think about,” Fitka said of the historic significance of his CG. “I went from closer to starter because I was mad that our team wasn’t getting me in a position to come in and get the save or pitch in general.”