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El Camino Baseball Cruises Past Benicia in Playoffs

Defense comes up big for Eagles as they eliminate Panthers 9-2 Thursday at Dan McAuliffe Memorial Ballpark in first round of the D-III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

Defensive fielding and key hits helped El Camino’s varsity baseball team advance to the second round of the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs as the Eagles knocked off the Benicia Panthers 9-2 Thursday at Dan McAuliffe Memorial Ballpark in Sacramento.

Benicia scored first by recording two runs in the top of the first inning, but El Camino would answer back by scoring three more runs in the bottom of the first. The Eagles led for the rest of the game after the first inning.

Despite giving up two runs in the first inning and not recording a single strikeout for the entire game, senior starting pitcher Mike Franz completed the game for El Camino. His teammates' fielding gave him a much-needed assist during the game as El Camino made three double plays during the game.

Franz credits his teammates’ defensive fielding for not allowing Benicia to score any more runs.

“Our defense helped me out a lot, the third baseman was handling everything hit at him,” he said. “I give all the credit to the defense on this one. I think we just wanted this more.”

Franz also produced on offense and hit 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the game.

Benicia head coach Jim Bowles credits Franz's pitching during the game and acknowledged that his pitches made it tough for the Panthers to earn hits.

“Their pitcher did a great job today,” Bowles said. “He was keeping (the pitches) down and they had a lot of sink to it. We hit a lot of ground balls and their defense had a few big plays and did a great job fielding the ball.”

El Camino head coach David Brown said after the game that his team has focused on batting practice this season and the results have paid off during this game.

“Our batting and situational hitting has worked out pretty well for us so far and combine that with our solid defense and great pitching today, we felt pretty confident in ourselves after getting through that first inning,” Brown said.

He also said that keeping up with basic baseball fundamentals are the keys to victory for his team.

“For the most part for us, it’s about going back to the basics, we stick with hitting, we do defense, we do bullpens,” he said. “We don’t work on a lot of fancy stuff because we’re doing the things that you’re going to see in the game 90 percent  of the time; it certainly showed today.”

Although Benicia’s season is over, Bowles said that he is excited for what’s in store next season with many players returning to the team next season.

“We had a young team this year so the future for us looks bright since we had six sophomores on the varsity team, this season,” Bowles said. “We’re very sad that we lost today but we’re also very excited for next season.”

El Camino will play its second round playoff game Saturday. This is the Eagles' second playoff appearance since the 2008-09 season.

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EL CAMINO 9, BENICIA 2

Benicia 200 000 0 – 2 6 3

El Camino 303 201 x – 9 12 0

Daini, Fulton (4) and Bishop; Frantz and Thompson. Top hitters: B–Payne 2B; Sickles 2x3, 2B. EC–Macaluso 2B; Frantz 4x4, 3 2B, 3 RBIs; Kintz 2B; Freeman 2x3; Kuwabara 2x3; Thompson 2 RBIs.

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