The Yellowjackets began their second league match of the season as an underdog on Friday, hosting rival Amador Valley at San Pablo Park in Berkeley. The ’Jackets, who missed out on a month of preseason practice due to the rain, managed to plough over this obstacle with a 12-2 victory over the Dons. The game was halted in the bottom of the fifth by the umpires, due to a 10-run “mercy rule.”
“This is the most stressful day in my 16 years of coaching,” coach Larri Gordon barked to his players before the game. “I’m on my stress reserve. This (game) is your last chance to get some respect.”
The huge score was caused in part by the Wolves’ struggling starter – Tom Walker – who lived up to his name by walking two and hitting three batters, all in the first inning. Senior Greer Wiggins capitalized on the Dons’ pitching problems, smacking an RBI line drive to center that scored two teammates, giving Berkeley a 2-0 first-inning lead.
The Yellowjackets had more success with starting pitcher Cole Stipovich, who gave Amador the sting, allowing just six hits and one earned run, with just 56 pitches in five innings.
“This is the first game I pitched in league,” Stipovich said. “I’m psyched. I’m overwhelmed. The way this game turned out isn’t something I expected at all.”
The second inning turned out to garner the largest point tally for the ’Jackets. The bases were loaded – due in part to a walk by Walker – and sophomore Julian Benavidez hit a double to centerfield and earned three RBIs. Paco Flores and Lee Franklin subsequently chimed in with an RBI to end the inning 5-0.
“It’s my goal for us to be a sleeper in the league,” Wiggins said. “We’ll tip-toe in, tip-toe out and no one will see us coming.”
Another three runs were knocked onto the board in the third. Benavidez played a key part again by driving in runs with a basehit to right field. In the Yellowjackets’ last chance at bat, sophomore Dan Pfister increased the score with a line drive to second which cost him an out, but earned him a sacrifice RBI. Benavidez scored Berkeley’s final run from third, on a sacrifice fly by Jay Moor.
“It seems like one problem after another,” Dons’ coach Tom Bischofberger said. “I don’t think we should have lost to Berkeley like we did (today).”
“I had high expectations and we were able to live up to them in this game,” Gordon said.