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’Jackets hold onto first place with win over Alameda

By Richard Nybakken, Daily Planet Correspondent
Saturday May 04, 2002

Benny Goldenberg said he’s never hit a ball so far in his life. 

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard,” he shrugged. “I just trusted my hands and tried to stay back. I can’t believe it went out.” 

The Berkeley High centerfielder’s first homerun of the season, a no-doubt-about-it shot well over the wall in leftfield, capped a four-run fourth inning and paced the Yellowjackets to a 9-1 victory over Alameda High Friday afternoon at Cal’s Evans Diamond.  

Goldenberg added a single and a double in four trips to the plate – falling a triple short of a cycle – while senior lefthander Cole Stipovich pitched five innings of one-hit ball to raise the first-place ’Jackets to a 9-1 mark in the ACCAL and 16-4 overall. The result also guarantees that Berkeley will own at least a share of the top spot going into next Friday’s showdown with second-place Encinal. 

The Hornets fell to 15-4, 6-4 in league play. 

Alameda actually drew first blood, plating a run in the top of the second on an infield single, an error by third baseman Chris Wilson, and two groundouts.  

But Berkeley quickly wrested control of the game from the Hornets with three runs in the bottom of the third. With one out, designated hitter DeAndre Miller singled, and after leftfielder Clinton Calhoun was hit by a pitch and first baseman Matt Toma walked to load the bases, Goldenberg struck a hard ground ball to third. Alameda third baseman Jordan Flores attempted to force the runner at home, but his throw was a little high and wide, causing catcher Mark Gillman to pull his foot off home plate.  

Shortstop Jason Moore followed with a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield, driving in Calhoun, and two batters later catcher Jeremy Riesenfeld beat out a squibber between the pitcher’s mound and third base, scoring Toma. 

The ’Jackets then put the game to bed with a little lightning and thunder in the bottom of the fourth. After a groundout by Wilson, leadoff man Lee Franklin singled sharply to right and proceeded to put on a clinic on how to rattle an opposing pitcher that would have made Rickey Henderson proud. 

Dancing off the first base bag, the spry second baseman drew three consecutive pickoff throws from Hornets’ hurler Michael Gillman before stealing second and third base on back to back pitches. The senior then scampered home on a ball four wild pitch to Miller.  

Hornets star Cody Nelson replaced Gillman on the mound, but to disastrous effect. With two down, Toma blooped a single to centerfield, and Goldenberg deposited an 0-1 inside fastball over the leftfield wall for a commanding 7-1 lead. 

’Jackets starter Stipovich said the longball gave him and his teammates all the juice they needed to close out the game. 

“I wasn’t looking when he hit it,” the southpaw said. “I just saw it go up and take forever to come down. That was the point when we said, okay, we can kind of take it home. I went out there the next inning with a lot more confidence.” 

The ’Jackets added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, while Stipovich and relievers Ethan Friedman and Matt Sylvester allowed only one more Alameda runner to reach base, on an error.. 

“We knew we were going to get good pitching from our guys,” Berkeley head coach Tim Moellering said. “Plus, everybody in the lineup can hit. The other pitcher never gets a break. We get one or two hits and a walk, and it just opens up the floodgates.” 

Goldenberg said the solid win, especially coming off last week’s loss to DeAnza, had Berkeley back into the swing of things going into next week.. 

“If we can get those two games, we’ll be right on track for taking the league,” he said. 

The man of the match had only one regret for his career day. 

“I just wish I’d slowed it down out there,” he said of his homerun trot, laughing. “It was way too fast.”