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Berkeley Legion finally wins a close one

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday July 26, 2001

Barons get some clutch hits, take advantage of Clayton Valley miscues 


For the third time in 11 days, the Berkeley Legion baseball team was involved in an extra-inning game in which one team blew a lead late in the game. But for the first time, the Berkeley team was the one that came back to tie the game in the seventh inning and win it in the eighth at Clayton Valley High on Wednesday. 

Trailing 5-1 heading into their last at-bats, the Barons used patience and some timely hitting. With one out, Clayton Valley reliever Barry Zenuk hit Matt Sylvester with a pitch, then walked Jack MckSweeney and Foster Goree to load the bases. Walker Toma then hit a line drive to center field that skipped under the Clayton Valley defender’s glove, scoring two runs and putting runners on second and third. Bennie Goldenberg bounced a single over third base, which plated Goree and Toma to knot the score at 5-5. 

Toma then came in to relieve in the bottom of the inning after Jason Nealy beaned Clayton Valley’s Rick Byrnes with one out, which appeared to shake up the Berkeley hurler. Although Byrnes stole second and took third on a passed ball, Toma induced a short flyball to right by the next batter, then struck out Chris Hurd to strand him 90 feet short of the winning run. 

Clayton Valley proceeded to pretty much hand the Barons the game in the eighth. Third baseman Matt Mazzei muffed a grounder by Berkeley’s Jason Haller, then Zenuk kicked away a sacrifice bunt by Jabri Gilreath. Sylvester popped up his own bunt, which Mazzei caught for the out, but Mazzei then threw the ball away trying to double up Gilbreath at first, sending the runners to second and third.  

MckSweeney struck out for the second out, but Chris Wilson hit a pop-up into no-man’s land in center, scoring the runners. Toma and Goldenberg both hit RBI singles to give the Barons some insurance, and Toma shut down the home side in the bottom of the inning to earn the 9-5 win. 

Strangely enough, the Berkeley outburst of eight runs in the final two innings came after head coach Josh Flushman was tossed from the game for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. 

“I’d say that was definitely the key to our victory today,” Flushman joked after the game, noting that he had clashed with the same umpire in a previous game this summer. 

Clayton Valley looked to have the Barons’ number early in the game, scoring five runs in two innings off of Berkeley starter Gilbreath. But Nealy shut them down for almost the rest of regulation.