CHERRIES’ hat-trick hero Brett Pitman says becoming a father for the first time has helped him grow up.

Pitman’s treble – including two penalties – fired Cherries to a 3-1 victory over League One rivals Crewe on Saturday.

The Jerseyman, who celebrates his 25th birthday on Thursday, dedicated his latest hat-trick to his eight-month old son Harlow.

Pitman and partner Clare returned to Bournemouth following his £60,000 move from Bristol City, with the striker taking his goal tally to seven in nine league games.

He told the Daily Echo: “Becoming a father for the first time has been great. It is a big change in your life but it is really rewarding. Harlow has just started crawling and climbing and is at a great age. I know it is only going to get better.

“It has certainly made me grow up, both as a person and as a player. You have to provide for someone else and it has made me a lot more responsible.”

Pitman hit 11 hat-tricks during his two-year Cherries apprenticeship and first achieved the feat in the pro ranks in a 4-0 win over Rochdale in April 2009. He also netted three times on his farewell appearance during a 5-1 win over Peterborough in August 2010.

His exploits against Crewe helped Cherries climb a place to fifth in League One with Eddie Howe men extending to 10 games their unbeaten record at Dean Court.

Pitman added: “We didn’t play well in the first half, but we were much better in the second and our performance deserved three points.”

Cherries opened the scoring courtesy of Pitman’s eighth-minute spot kick after Marc Pugh had been felled. He doubled their lead midway through the second half before completing the scoring with a second penalty after Ryan Colclough had made it 2-1.

Pitman, who is the fourth player to take a penalty in a league game for Cherries this season, was asked by the media whether he was the designated taker.

He replied: “I keep getting asked about this. The manager has said that if I am on the pitch, I will take penalties.

“Until I am told differently, that is how it will be.”