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’Jackets ride huge third inning to win over Encinal

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday April 18, 2002

In a matchup of the ACCAL’s only undefeated teams, Berkeley High rode an 11-run third inning to a 12-4 victory over the Encinal Jets on Wednesday, taking over sole possession of first place with its 11th straight win. 

The first 12 Yellowjacket batters reached base in the remarkable half-inning, with 11 of them scoring. Berkeley (13-4 overall, 5-0 ACCAL) had 10 hits – all singles – during the rally, and the Jets helped out by making three errors.  

Encinal (6-9, 4-1 ACCAL) starter Tony Ellis faced the first four batters before giving way to Cory Dunlap. But Dunlap, Encinal’s ace, was unable to stop the bleeding, walking the first batter he faced before surrendering five straight singles. Berkeley had three hitters, DeAndre Miller, Kory Hong and Matt Toma, get two hits each in the inning, with Toma driving in two runs in his return to the lineup from a pulled hamstring two weeks ago. 

“We expected to see Dunlap sooner or later,” Berkeley head coach Tim Moellering said. “I think we were fortunate that he came in cold from first base, and we had a chance to get to him before he warmed up.” 

But the ’Jackets continued to hit Dunlop as he threw 46 pitches before getting out of the inning. Constantly pitching with men on base, Dunlap was ineffective from the stretch and didn’t have his usual command. 

“The main thing was creating situations to hit in,” Berkeley second baseman Lee Franklin said. “When we have men on and they pull their infield in, that’s a high-percentage situation.” 

The big inning more than erased an early 2-0 deficit for the ’Jackets, as Berkeley starter Sean Souders had a rough first inning. Encinal’s Nick Loy led off the game with a double to left, and Souders hit DeAndre Green with a pitch to put two runners on. Dunlap then ripped a double down the rightfield line to score both runners, but Souders settled down, striking out the next five Jets, including all three in the second inning on just 10 pitches. 

“For the first few batters I was leaving my pitches up and over the plate,” Souders said. “Once I made an adjustment and got the ball down I was more effective.” 

Souders would give up just two more runs on a homer by Dunlap in the fifth inning. Sophomore Matt Sylvester, called up from the junior varsity last week, pitched the seventh inning for Berkeley to finish the game. 

With Wednesday’s win, Berkeley is alone at the top of the ACCAL standings with games remaining against El Cerrito and De Anza in the first round of league play. The ’Jackets have pounded their way through the league, scoring in double figures in four of their five games, including a 16-2 whipping of preseason favorite Pinole Valley. They are also one of the few teams with two reliable starters, as senior lefty Cole Stipovich is the best No. 2 in the league. With hot bats and solid pitching, the ’Jackets should be able to count on a better finish than last season’s 0-3 collapse, which knocked them down to the eighth and final seed in the North Coast Section playoffs. 

“We’ve got a tough game Friday (against El Cerrito), but if we take care of business we’ll be in good shape,” Franklin said. “Hopefully we can just sit back and let the other teams beat each other up for a while.”