With mom keeping score, Mitchell's first hit sparks Crew

August 29th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Welcome to the big leagues Garrett Mitchell!

After getting called up on Saturday, the Brewers’ No. 5 prospect made his first Major League start in center field on Sunday. And the rookie wasted no time in making an impact.

Mitchell’s go-ahead two-run single for his first Major League hit sparked the Brewers’ 9-7 win against the Cubs at American Family Field.

“It was a big hit,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Two RBIs to give us the lead. I'm really happy for him, contributing to a win today.”

Stepping to the plate with runners on second and third with one out in the fourth inning, the rookie settled in with a loud roar from the home crowd. With Milwaukee trailing by one run, Mitchell looked to do damage. He watched a ball, then watched a called strike.

Mitchell then turned on a cutter and roped a 101.3 mph single up the middle for his first hit, bringing in two runs and giving the Brewers the lead.

“You'll never be able to remake that moment, so that was a lot of fun,” Mitchell said. “Every guy wants to be in that situation. No matter what inning it is, you want to be in a position to help the team win. It was nice being able to contribute.”

And to do it with his family in the crowd was an even better moment for Mitchell. 

“It's awesome,” Mitchell said. “After [the hit] and I got my stuff off, I took a moment and let them know I appreciate them and I love them. It was nice to have them here.”

Mitchell’s mom, Shannon Van Dyke, and wife, Haley Cruse, could not have been happier to see him repping the Brewers across his chest. When they saw his first hit driven into center, they couldn’t contain their excitement.

“The emotions and the nerves for us in the excitement, that when we see that, there’s just nothing better, absolutely nothing better,” Van Dyke said.

Added Cruse: “Oh my gosh. I’ve just seen all the ups and downs that he’s had throughout his career and the doubts that he’s had of himself at times. Just seeing all of his hard work and perseverance pay off has been the most amazing thing in the world.”

Van Dyke has seen her son play at every level, so she made sure on Sunday to continue with a tradition she’s carried over the years: Keep score on a scorecard.

“In Little League, I was the scorekeeper for his team,” she said. “ I’ve done it off and on through high school and college. But I wasn’t going to miss this first game. I’m going to get caught up and continue to keep that as a memento for today.”

Along with the scorecard, Mitchell already has the baseball that got him his first hit as another souvenir from the game.

“That was cool, wasn’t it,” Eric Lauer said of Mitchell’s start. “That’s got to be a really cool moment for him. It was cool to see [and] cool to watch.”

Mitchell's two-run hit displayed the tools that he brings to the Brewers roster while hoping to be impactful at any time. Not only did he come up in a big spot, but he also made a heads-up play on the basepaths, stretching out his single and advancing to second on a misplay from Cubs center fielder Nelson Velázquez.

“Electric,” Mitchell said of his day. “Being able to stretch that single on the error, that's what I want to try to do. I want to try to put pressure on teams. I'm just jazzed.”

That type of play is exactly why the Brewers called him up after he hit .343 with six doubles and nine RBIs to go with nine stolen bases at Triple-A Nashville.

“I think what we've learned about Garrett is he brings a complete toolset and a complete skill set that can impact the game throughout,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said on Saturday. “This is a premium athlete.”

Mitchell’s first Major League hit will be a moment that he will cherish forever. It’s also a milestone that shows all of his hard work, and his family wasn’t going to miss it for the world.

“I thought he was kidding,” Cruse said when she first found out Mitchell was getting called up. “He likes to mess with me a lot. But it was actually very serious. It was overwhelming, but I just knew I had to book my flight.”