Big eight-run fifth gives Lions a 12-2
slaughter rule win over Alameda;
state opener against Rangers today
Friday’s game against Alameda was a must-win for the Berkeley/Albany Lions. Boy, did they win.
The Lions (formerly referred to as the Barons in this space) exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to win by the “slaughter rule.” The 12-2 victory qualified the team for the Babe Ruth Under-19 State Tournament, the third year in a row the Lions have made it to the state level.
“This game was much more indicative of the way we’ve been playing all summer,” Berkeley/Albany manager Joe Pinguelo said. “We’ve been hitting well most of the season, but some kids went on vacation and threw a wrench into things.”
Friday’s game was the final round of the Babe Ruth district tournament, with the winning team claiming a bid to the state tournament. Pinguelo had been under the impression that his team would automatically qualify after compiling the best record this season, but found out Wednesday night that his team would have to play again.
Pinguelo planned to have Randy Renn throw the opener of the state tournament, but was forced to move him up a day. Renn responded with a solid outing, pitching out of trouble in the first three innings and stranding seven runners in his five frames of work.
The Merchants scored both of their runs in the third inning, as David Bellerini and Nick Thomson walked to start the rally. Rafael Mendoza flew out to centerfield, but Mark Wellman came through with an RBI single and Chris Sheddle followed with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Lions hitters, on the other hand, had difficulty figuring out Alameda starter Juan Mendoza, squeaking across single unearned runs in the second and third innings to keep the game tied at 2-2.
Berkeley/Albany cleanup hitter Chase Moore showed why the Pittsburgh Pirates thought he’d make a worthwhile draft pick, almost taking off Mendoza’s head with line drive to start the second inning, then stealing second despite being picked off. Moore then scored on Jason Moore’s single to center.
The Lions caused more havoc on the basepaths in the third, with Ricky Arias scoring after Lee Franklin managed to draw five throws in a rundown between first and second.
But Benny Goldenberg knocked a two-run single to left in the fourth inning to put Berkeley/Albany ahead 4-2, then the Lions sent 10 men to the plate in the fifth to put the game away. Goldenberg hit another two-run single, then Chris Morocco followed with a three-run blast to right-center to chase Mendoza from the game. The home run was Morocco’s third of the summer.
Alameda reliever Chris Sheddle came in to put out the fire, but was met by singles from Joe Storno and Ricky Arias. After a wild pitch, Franklin ended the game with a shot to the gap in right-center that scored both runners..
Goldenberg has been moved around in the Lions’ lineup all summer, and hasn’t had many runners on base ahead of him. But his four RBI out of the six-hole on Friday helped put the game away. Goldenberg also made a diving catch in right field to help kill an Alameda threat in the third inning.
“I don’t usually get that many RBI opportunities,” he said. “But when they’re there, I know I have to take advantage.”
The Lions open the state tournament today against the San Leandro Rangers, the defending state champions. The game will start at 7 p.m. at San Leandro Ballpark.