Coach Rusty McDonald could not have thought of a better word to describe Justin Dillon’s pitching in El Dorado’s 6-0 victory over River City, sealing the Sierra Valley Conference title.
And dominant he was. Pitching his final game at home, the senior right hander fanned 16, walked only one, and gave up just two hits. Mixing his overpowering fastball and sharp curve, Dillon never let up on the River City hitters, facing no more than four hitters in any inning and not allowing a runner past second.
“I had all my stuff working,” Dillon said after the game, grinning proudly. “I hit my spots and worked hard not to walk anyone. I feel like the team’s always behind me. We’re behind anyone on the mound. We all work our butts off.”
El Dorado’s offense kept the pressure up all game, banging out 11 hits and putting runners on in every inning. Each player in the lineup had at least one hit with Connor Lacher and Zach Culp hitting safely twice, including a double.
“We don’t have an easy out in the lineup. One through nine hit the ball pretty well,” McDonald added.
If the Cougars had not left 12 runners on base, the game might have ended early with the mercy rule. With Dillon mowing down hitter after hitter, the Cougars effectively put the game away in the second inning. Matt Smith led off with a solid single to center that was misplayed by the centerfielder, allowing Smith to race around to third. Alex Alvarez then drove in Smith with a sacrifice fly to right.
Nick Bonniksen singled through the hole to left, then Zach Culp, Nik Rowen, and Connor Lacher all walked off a suddenly wild Joey Beall, scoring another run. Dillon helped himself hugely with a sharp single up the middle, scoring two more. Chris Swineford then reached on a shortstop error and Zack Brown followed with another walk to force in the fifth and last run of the inning.
The Cougars added another run in the third when Culp ripped a drive to the gap in left center for a double and Nik Rowen quickly followed with an RBI single. Connor Lacher’s double drove Rowen to third but after Dillon walked, Swineford’s long fly to right was caught and turned into a double play as Rowen was gunned down at home.
Before the game, Coach McDonald and the fans celebrated El Dorado Senior Day with roses, appreciation and applause for seniors Tyler Cuddy, Brown, Rowen, Dillon and Lacher.