Bonck’s progression at Seattle rewarded with first college win

April 11, 2018

Nathan Bonck baseball

Nathan Bonck

Even though the pitching stats for Seattle University reliever Nathan Bonck of Ketchikan are night and day compared to last season, the transformation didn’t happen overnight.

The progression of the sophomore southpaw took sweat, sacrifice and a season of college baseball under his belt.

As a result, he looks like a different player.

“The biggest adjustment I’ve made is just taking every chance I get to do anything very seriously,” he told me. “And that’s not constricted to just the baseball field. In the weight room and the class room I’ve just been going about my business in a different way than I ever have before and I feel that with those two aspects of my life squared away, my job on the field is the only thing I focus on which has helped me tremendously I feel.”

Bonck continued his bounce-back season with the NCAA D1 Redhawks and picked up his first winning decision with two innings of work in Seattle’s 11-5 victory over Air Force in Bellevue, Washington.

He is now 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in seven appearances compared to his freshman season when he lost all five decisions and posted an 11.53 ERA in 15 games.

He has upgraded his off-speed arsenal, adding a changeup and tweaking his curveball.

His curveball, which has a fall-off-the-table drop, has emerged as his out pitch.

“It’s changed a little bit since high school and it has more of a 12-to-6 movement to it,” he said. “Something I’ve started to do when I throw it is put 100 percent effort into it. I don’t try to aim my curveball. I just try to throw it through my catcher like I would a fastball. Since I’ve started throwing it harder it’s become harder to hit because it’s moving more and the velocity is up.”

Bonck, of Ketchikan High fame, was the Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year as a junior in 2015. As a senior in 2016, he threw two no-hitters and one perfect game.

Pegged for stardom at Seattle, Bonck sort of bonked.

In high school, “I could flip my curveball early in counts and then when I wanted or needed a strike out I’d throw it at the back foot of a righty and that usually got swings,” he said. “But in college it’s hard to get by with just two pitches, so I slowly but surely developed a changeup that I can throw for strikes and get 6-8 mph off my fastball.”

Bonck is one of three Alaska players in the Western Athletic Conference, otherwise known as the WAC. The other two are Joe Fitka of Chicago State University and Dalton Chapman of Grand Canyon University.

“I love we have a bunch of guys (in the WAC), and I’m happy that I can be one of them,” Bonck said. “I’m sure there’s gonna be plenty more kids from Alaska coming up shortly, so I’m excited for what we have right now and what we will have in the future.”