Bankowski struck out 10 batters in five innings in the Wildcats' 3-2 victory over the Braves earlier in the season. Monday was no different as Bankowski consistently got ahead in the count against the Braves and kept them off the base paths.
"When you throw strikes you win games," said Wildcats head coach Brandon Critchley after the game. "Jake's done a great job for us all year and today was no different."
The Braves were able to get on the scoreboard first, however, in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Jason Freckleton got on base, and the next batter, Eric Hunter laid a perfect bunt down the first-base line. Bankowski fielded the bunt and tried to hurry the throw over from first base but threw the ball wide, sending it into the outfield.
Freckleton was able to score from second thanks to the error and Hunter moved to third. Two batters later Aaron Dell hit a long fly ball to right field which brought in Hunter and gave the Braves an early 2-0 lead.
The Wildcats responded in the top of the second inning with some offense of their own. The Wildcats had men on first and second after two fielding errors by the Braves and with two outs Colton Hansen hit a high fly ball into left field that appeared as though it would end the threat.
The Braves outfielder misplayed the ball, however, allowing the easy out to fall for a two-RBI error. The next hitter, Carson Gillette, drove in Hansen with an RBI single and the Wildcats seized control of the lead 3-2.
That was all the offense the Wildcats needed as Bankowski led the rest of the way. Bankowski, who fanned six batters in seven innings, allowed just two Braves runners in scoring position from the second inning on and completely dominated the Braves line-up.
The Wildcats were also able to pick up some insurance runs in the top of the third. Cass Christensen had an RBI double deep into left-center, and the 'Cats scored three more runs to lengthen their lead to 6-2.
After the third inning, Bountiful's sophomore pitcher, Matt Winslow, settled down, finishing with five strikeouts in seven innings. Winslow, a southpaw with a wicked pick-off move, also picked off three Wildcats on the base paths. But the Braves continued to struggle to produce on offense and Bankowski cruised to the win.
After the game Critchley summed up the game with just two words.
"Any region win is big, but to sweep the season series with Bountiful is just huge for our team."
With the win the Wildcats moved to 4-3 in Region 5, and a four-way tie for second place. The 'Cats are in position to complete their pre-season goal of making it to the postseason, but with seven teams within two games of each other, the Wildcats will have to keep winning to stay where they are in the standings.
The Braves, meanwhile, con- tinued their season-long fielding woes, piling up more errors than hits and runs combined in the first six innings, and fell to 0-9 for the year.