Byline: Jim Wilson
SHREWSBURY - Algonquin baseball coach Neil Burke lamented that the big hits have been few and far between for his top-ranked Tomahawks this season. If Algonquin keeps getting pitching performances like the one turned in by Mike Bonner yesterday against St. John's, the Tomahawks might not have to worry about that.
Bonner scattered six hits over 6-1/3 innings and struck out six as visiting Algonquin held off a late Pioneer rally to escape with a 4-3 win.
"My fastball wasn't as fast today, but I was able to hit my spots," Bonner said. "I had a lot of movement on my fastball. It was moving a ton, so I used that a lot."
Bonner escaped a jam in the fourth inning as Joe Petry led off with a walk and John Andreoli followed with a single, but Bonner retired the next three batters on balls that didn't leave the infield. In the fifth, St. John's cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI double by Trevor Lawson and a groundout by Petry, but Bonner got Andreoli swinging to end the inning.
An Algonquin error in the seventh inning allowed pinch runner David Trujillo to score to make it 4-3 and chase Bonner from the game. St. John's had Troy Zawadzki on third with two outs, but reliever John McKenna got Lawson to hit a hot grounder up the middle that shortstop Kevin Brown made a nice play on to record the final out.
Algonquin had the bats going early, as Brown (2 for 4) led off the game with a towering home run to right field, and after starter Casey Cummins hit McKenna and Graham Henningson with pitches, Joe Cabral belted a home run over the left field fence to make it 4-0.
"We battled all game long and had the tying run on third and had a ball that looked like it was going up the middle, but (Brown) made a nice play on it, and the game was over," St. John's coach Charlie Eppinger said. "All seven innings count, and the first one hurt us."
Junior Will O'Conner stepped in with two outs in the first and pitched well the rest of the way, shutting out Algonquin and limiting the Tomahawks to four hits.
"Will O'Connor was phenomenal," Eppinger said. "He went 6-2/3 innings and didn't allow a run. He battled out there and did a great job keeping us in the game...