For the fourth game in a row, the Berkeley Yellowjackets couldn’t put together a big inning. For the fourth game in a row, they gave the other team a big inning. So for the fourth game in a row, they lost.
With the 6-3 loss on Friday to El Cerrito in the regular season finale at San Pablo Park, the ’Jackets also put themselves in a poor position to pick up an at-large bid for the North Coast Section playoffs. Head coach Tim Moellering will attend the NCS meeting on Sunday to apply for a spot, but losing four in a row to end the season isn’t exactly the way to impress the selection committee.
“We’re probably a bubble team,” Moellering said. “We’re certainly capable of beating some teams in the playoffs, but we have to sweat it out.”
The way the ’Jackets have played the last two weeks, however, they don’t look like they could beat much of anyone. They were outscored 26-11 in the four losses, and scored more than one run in an inning just once. And with Stanford-bound pitcher Moses Kopmar sidelined with a groin injury, their pitching has looked shaky, giving up four innings of four or more runs to their opponents.
“We talked about those big innings, and the fact that that’s the best time to step up on defense, but we’ve just let the roof cave in on us,” Moellering said.
The cave-in happened in the top of the fifth on Friday. Cole Stipovich had come in and snuffed an El Cerrito rally the previous inning, but walked nine-hitter Ken Hirose to start the fifth with the score tied 1-1. After a bunt single by James McDermott, Ryan De La Rosa dropped a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Berkeley first baseman Sean Souders started to charge the ball and couldn’t get back to the base in time to take Stipovich’s throw, loading the bases.
The Gauchos had four bunt singles in the game, and the ’Jackets looked shaky covering every one of them.
“We really only misplayed one bunt. They were all very good bunts,” Moellering said.
Stipovich struck out Greg Murray, and it looked as if he might wiggle his way out of another jam. But Andy Davaran knocked a single into left field for two runs, and Jamonte Cox lined a single off of Stipovich’s leg to score two more.
Berkeley finally got something going in the bottom of the sixth, as Noah Roper and Jeremy LeBeau had RBI singles to draw the ’Jackets within two runs. But the El Cerrito coaches lifted Murray and brought in fireballer Kenny Salyer with two outs and men on second and third. Salyer walked Souders to load the bases, but got Lee Franklin to fly out to left to end the threat. The Gauchos tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, and Salyer struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to end the game.
So now the ’Jackets will have to wait until Sunday to find out if they will go on playing this season. There are 16 total spots in the NCS 3A playoffs, but Moellering said he really isn’t sure about his team’s chances of snagging one of them.
“I really don’t know, because there are some leagues we haven’t heard from,” he said. “I just don’t have the information yet.”