Nick Bonniksen’s pitching or hitting … take your pick.
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Both factored into Monday’s final Sierra Valley Conference game against Galt. Along with three RBIs from Matt Smith, the host Cougars pulled away for the 8-2 victory.
The win was El Dorado’s 11th win in its last 12 games. The Cougars finish league in third place at 13-5 and await the playoffs next week at Lodi’s Zupo Field.
“Ending up 21-6 (overall) is an extremely good record that any coach would take if offered before the season,” Cougar coach Rusty McDonald said. “Our pitchers have carried us this year and have done an outstanding job … Nick threw well all game. Right now we’re playing our best ball of the year.”
The Warriors competed well, holding a 2-0 lead going to the home half of the fifth. Bonniksen doubled, the first of his two big hits, after Mike Green had walked in an inning that ended with Smith’s two-out, two-run single through the infield to tie the score.
El Dorado broke it open in the sixth, batting around for six runs. Owen MacKenrick reached on an error, Adam Washabaugh was hit, Green got on with a bunt single and Ryan Rodriguez walked to force in the go-ahead run.
With the bases still loaded, Bonniksen greeted Galt’s bullpen with a stand-up triple to make it 6-2 and he scored on a wild pitch before Smith plated Zach Culp with a ground-rule double to complete the scoring.
Bonniksen struck out eight and surrendered just four hits in retiring the final eight Warriors he faced — dodging a potential problem inning in the fifth when Galt loaded the bases with one down. Howie Lyon, denied earlier at the warning track on Green’s retreating catch, stood in the box but Bonniksen again got him to fly out for a sacrifice fly to limit the damage.
“He’s a good contact hitter and someone I’ve had to face the last three years,” Bonniksen said. “I wasn’t feeling my stuff in the bullpen; normally my first couple inning are my worst but I heated up and throughout the game my curve was working to set up my fastball.”
Prior to the game El Dorado honored seniors Michael Weston, Green, Rodriguez, Zach Terry, Sawyer Schardt and Vince Ross.