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Thin ’Jackets play sloppily, fall to Mt. Eden

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday March 14, 2002

The shorthanded Berkeley High baseball team couldn’t get much offense going without two of its top hitters as the ’Jackets fell to Mt. Eden, 8-5, on Wednesday at San Pablo Park. 

Mt. Eden cleanup hitter Rolando Fajardo hit a bases-clearing double during a four-run third inning, then the Monarchs tacked on three more runs in the fourth to pull away. 

Berkeley, on the other hand, managed to score only single runs in the first, third and fifth innings before putting up a couple of consolation scores in the seventh. The ’Jackets had baserunners in every inning, but just couldn’t put together a rally. 

“If we get a big hit, this is a different ballgame,” Berkeley head coach Tim Moellering said. “We got down too many early to start scratching for runs.” 

Moellering was short three regulars on Wednesday. Centerfielder Bennie Goldenberg is out with an injury, and heart-of-the-order hitters DeAndre Miller and Matt Toma rode the pine for breaking team rules. Toma is Berkeley’s only real power source, while Miller is a table-setter who usually hits second. 

One positive was a nice showing by Jeremy LeBeau in Toma’s cleanup spot. LeBeau had three hits, including a double, and scored two runs. Sean Souders, known more for his pitching than his bat, had a solid game with three RBIs out of the five-hole, and Chris Wilson, subbing for Miller at third base, also had two base hits. 

But the negatives outweighed the positives for the ’Jackets (1-3) on Wednesday. They committed three errors in the field, and three of Mt. Eden’s runs scored on wild pitches and passed balls.  

Berkeley catcher Sam Geaney just learned to play behind the plate this summer, and his handling of balls in the dirt left something to be desired, especially with Walker Toma on the mound. After starting pitcher Ethan Friedman lasted just three innings, the sophomore Toma brother (Matt is a senior) came in to finish the game. He looked in control early, but a scratch hit and a walk put two runners on. A wild pitch moved the runners up, then a passed ball by Geaney scored one run. A single and two more wild pitches plated two more runs for the Monarchs, and suddenly Berkeley was down 7-2. 

“(Walker) Toma had a rough inning, but he settled down,” Moellering said. “We know he’s going to be a great pitcher for us.” 

Toma got through the next two innings with relative ease, striking out four, but Fajardo led off the top of the seventh with a mammoth blast to left that cleared the temporary fence, a sidewalk and a stretch of grass. Toma walked the next batter on four pitches, but regained his composure to set down the next three in a row. 

Berkeley actually got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, as Mt. Eden reliever Javier Contreras loaded the bases with two walks and an infield hit before he got an out. Berkeley’s Cory Hong grounded out to first to score a run, and Geaney hit a single up the middle to cut the Monarchs’ lead to 8-5, bringing Wilson to the plate with two men on. But Wilson hit the first pitch to Fajardo at short, who tagged second base to force Geaney and end the game.