Back in the 1970s, when the NFL’s Oakland Raiders were building a dynasty, owner Al Davis coined the motto “Just win, baby.”
The Raiders weren’t the highest-scoring or most aesthetically pleasing team, but what they did do was win, and they won a lot.
The same can be said of Columbus North pitcher Jon Cox. All the senior right-hander has done is go 12-0 during the past two seasons.
“Jon has been a workhorse for us on the mound,” North coach Ben McDaniel said. “They haven’t always been the toughest games for us, but they’re still games that we’ve had to win.”
Last year, Cox went 6-0 with a 3.18 ERA for the Bull Dogs, who went 24-6-1. He was aided by an offense that averaged 13.4 runs in the games he started.
North hasn’t been as prolific offensively in Cox’s starts this season, but it hasn’t had to be. He is 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA, 27 strikeouts and only 10 walks for the 20-2 Bull Dogs, who are ranked No. 4 in Class 4A.
“I’m happy with how I’ve pitched this year,” Cox said. “The team has been giving me the run support like they usually do. I know going into every game that I can give up one or two runs and know my team is going to score at least six for me.”
“Jon approaches every game the same way,” McDaniel said. “He’s very collected on the mound. He’s confident in his players behind him on defense, and he’s very confident in the bats when he’s on the mound. He knows he’s going to get the offensive support.”
Unlike North’s top-two starters, senior Indiana State signee Cody Burton and junior Ohio State recruit Collin Lollar, Cox doesn’t bring high heat.
“Jon complements are other two starters very well and even Nathan (VanDeventer, the No. 4 pitcher),” McDaniel said. “His change in velocity and his arm angle, where he releases the ball, is very quick to the plate.
Cox calls his go-to-pitch a knuckle-curve.
“But with my arm action, it’s more of a slider,” Cox said. “It keeps the hitters off-balance.”
“Jon is crafty,” McDaniel said. “His velocity is not where Collin and Cody are. Jon lives in the upper-70s (mph), lower-80s range. He has a great fastball that he can locate very well. He controls his pitches, and he has a pretty tight curveball. He doesn’t throw a change-up, but he makes a living with his fastball and his curveball.”
While Burton and Lollar will get the call for today’s Conference Indiana Tournament games (the second game will be moved to Monday if the Bull Dogs are playing Terre Haute North) and the postseason games, Cox knows his big-game appearances will be in relief.
“They’ll go out and do great like they always do,” Cox said. “I feel like me or Nate can come in, and we’ll do fine. I’m not as quick as Collin or Cody, but my arm angle and some of the off-speed pitches I throw messes with others more than just my fastball.”
Cox’s baseball future is up in the air. He wants to go into go into physical therapy and has been accepted to Evansville and University of Indianapolis.
But first, he will go on a two-year Mormon mission.
“After I get back from that, we’ll see how it goes,” Cox said.
First, though, Cox said he hopes to help the Bull Dogs make a deep postseason run.
“Our pitchers this year, we worked a lot in the offseason and developed a lot more,” Cox said. “We have a good bullpen and a good rotation, and our bats the last couple of games have started to wake up a little bit. If we can have a good approach to every game, I think we can go pretty far this year.”
Conference Indiana baseball tournament
Columbus North vs. Terre Haute South at Bloomington South, 12:30 p.m.
Terre Haute North vs. Franklin Central at Bloomington North, 12:30 p.m.
Third-place game at Bloomington South, 5:30 p.m.*
Championship game at Bloomington North, 5:30 p.m.*
*If Columbus North and Terre Haute North are playing, the game will be moved to 6 p.m. Monday, with Columbus North hosting.
Fifth- through eighth-place bracket
Perry Meridian at Bloomington North, 10 a.m.
Southport at Bloomington South, 10 a.m.
Seventh-place game at TBA**, 3 p.m.
Fifth-place game at TBA**, 3 p.m.
**-Sites for these games will be determined by the results of the PM-BN and Southport-BS games.