Page One

’Jackets bash Pinole Valley

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Saturday March 30, 2002

Berkeley High explodes for 20 hits against thin Spartan pitching staff 


What was expected to be a tight matchup between two ACCAL contenders turned into a laugher on Friday as the Berkeley Yellowjackets pounded out 20 hits and scored in every inning of a 16-2 shellacking of host Pinole Valley. 

Eight different Berkeley players had at least two hits, including three-hit days from Matt Toma and Bennie Goldenberg, and DeAndre Miller and Chris Wilson each drove in three runs to spearhead the ’Jacket outburst as the visitors set new season highs in hits and runs. 

“Today was a pleasant surprise, but we’ve been hitting for last two weeks,” Berkeley head coach Tim Moellering said. “Ever since we played Bishop O’Dowd (an 11-5 win) our bats have been on fire. It doesn’t matter who we face right now.” 

That might be true, but the ’Jackets (5-3, 2-0 ACCAL) got a scheduling break in their first matchup with the Spartans (5-1-1, 1-1). Pinole Valley ace Kurt Koehler, who hasn’t lost a game in two years, pitched on Wednesday against Encinal, leaving the Spartans in the shaky hands of Jeff Molina on Friday. Molina lasted just three innings, giving up four runs on six hits. The bullpen wasn’t any better, as three more pitchers combined to give up nine more runs on the way to their first loss of the season. 

Berkeley, on the other hand, has the deepest staff in the league. With any easy game against Richmond on Wednesday, Moellering had the option of resting lefty Sean Souders for Friday’s game. The junior responded with a sparking outing, allowing just one run on a Scott Scoefield homer in the second inning. Souders responded by setting down the next 13 batters in a row before giving up an infield single to Miguel Bernard, and gave up just three hits in his six innings of work for his second win of the season. 

“Most teams in our league have to get by with one good starter, and that’s tough if you have two tough games in a week,” Moellering said. “But for us it doesn’t matter, because we have the luxury of having two experienced starters as well as several solid options in the bullpen.” 

The last time the ’Jackets faced Pinole Valley, the Spartans won to send Berkeley into a tailspin that nearly knocked them out of the playoff picture. Souders said he came into Friday’s game wanting to prove a point. 

“They put us into a losing streak last year, so I wanted to come out and show them who’s the team to beat this season,” he said. 

The ’Jackets scored five runs in the sixth inning for a 13-1 lead, which would usually signal the end of the game thanks to the “slaughter rule.” But the teams’ coaches said before the game that they wouldn’t stop the game early, although Moellering said he didn’t think either team considered such a large deficit a possibility. 

Pinole Valley head coach Frank Fruzza, on the other hand, considered his team to be on shaky ground without Koehler on the mound. Fruzza said he was “auditioning” for the second starter’s spot as late as Tuesday. 

“I didn’t expect to lose like that, though,” Fruzza said. “We didn’t play a very good game from the get-go. When you get down five or six runs, the wheels can just come off, and that’s what happened today.” 

The ’Jackets should expect to see Koehler in the rematch on May 1, as the Fruzza knows he doesn’t want to see anything resembling Friday’s disaster again. 

“We’re not nearly this bad a team,” he said. “I don’t expect to see that again.” 

Souders said he was anticipating a pitching duel with Koehler. 

“I was disappointed I didn’t get to go against him today,” Souders said. “Hopefully we can go head-to-head in the next game.” 

But the Berkeley hitters didn’t seem too depressed about facing the weak end of the Spartan rotation. 

“We were expecting a much tougher game, and we know we caught a break not facing Koehler” Toma said. “But it’s always fun to come in and just bomb someone.”