The Berkeley High baseball team was counting on an easy win against Richmond on Wednesday, and that’s exactly what the ’Jackets got, a 15-0 drubbing that lasted just 4 1/2 innings thanks to the “slaughter rule.”
Three Berkeley pitchers, two of whom were pitching for the first time this season, combined to give up just three hits as the ’Jackets simply overpowered their opponent. Sophomore Walker Toma was particularly impressive, striking out five in his two innings of work, and seniors Lee Franklin and Raymond Pinkston both looked fairly solid in their rare stints on the mound.
“It’s nice to know we can have Lee and Ray come in and throw strikes if we need them to,” Berkeley head coach Tim Moellering said. “It’s always good to have people to eat up innings if you need them.”
Moellering sat most of his starters against the Oilers, who didn’t win an ACCAL game last season, including the heart of his lineup, sluggers Clinton Calhoun, Matt Toma and Jeremy LeBeau. Franklin got an unexpected start on the mound when Toma showed up late for warmups, although he didn’t seem to thrilled about it.
“I was expecting to sit in the dugout all game long,” Franklin said. “I didn’t even bring my game cleats. I had to use my practice cleats out there.”
Franklin, Berkeley’s leadoff hitter and second baseman, managed to push through his footwear issues to allow just one hit and strike out two Oilers. Pinkston threw the final inning, shaking off a shot off of his kneecap by the first batter he faced to induce a double-play ball and strike out the final batter.
Wednesday’s win was also a chance for Moellering to get Jeremy Riesenfeld a complete game behind the plate. After suffering an elbow injury early last season, Riesenfeld has gone through two surgeries and is just now getting his arm strength near 100 percent. The senior caught all five innings for the ’Jackets making two throws to first on dropped third strikes. Although he didn’t get a chance to throw very hard, the game was a confidence-builder for Riesenfeld.
“I get a little more comfortable every day,” Riesenfeld said. “Hopefully I’ll get some time in a more competitive game so I can really test it out. That should help me get over the tentativeness on my throws.”
The Berkeley offense dinked and dunked its way to 15 runs in four innings, getting just two extra-base knocks out of 14 hits. They also drew three walks from Richmond starter Don Fountila and were the beneficiaries of four Oiler errors, as well as several other shaky defensive plays. Centerfielder Jonathon Smith led the way with three hits, and seven ’Jackets had at least one RBI, with Riesenfeld and Sean Souders knocking in two runs apiece.
“The thing about our team is that we’re very deep,” Moellering said. “We know that no matter who’s in there, we’re going to hit the ball and play well.”