Berlett hurts, then helps E. Tech rally to defeat C. Milton Wright

Reliever blows lead in 7th, redeems himself with HR


April 27, 2001|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Pitcher Brandon Berlett more than atoned for blowing a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning to C. Milton Wright.

Berlett launched a two-run home run well over 400 feet to center field to tie the score and force extra innings. Then the 6-foot-5 junior pitched a scoreless eighth as Eastern Tech won, 5-4, yesterday.

Gary Eikenberg led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and later scored the game-winner on a base hit by Jimmy Thomas. It was the first at-bats of the game for the two reserves in a matchup of two ranked teams.

No. 7 Eastern Tech (11-2) and No. 11 C. Milton Wright (12-4) are contenders in their respective regions -- the former in the 3A North and the latter in the 4A East -- come playoff time.

Senior right-hander Justin Cooper took a seven-hit shutout into the seventh, but was chased in a four-run rally by the Mustangs.

With runners on second and third, Cooper issued an intentional walk to the Dave Heil to load the bases with one out. He then coaxed Jesse Schoendienst to fly to short center with the runners holding.

Kyle Jefferson then drew a walk on four pitches to make it 2-1, and Tech coach Kenny King switched Cooper with Berlett, who was playing first base. Berlett (4-0) walked Brian Kelly to tie the score, and freshman John Thurston hit a two-run single to left to make it 4-2.

"I'm usually a starter, and it takes me a little while to get warmed up," said Berlett, who pitched one-hit shutout in a five-inning win over Woodlawn on Tuesday.

"If I get through the first inning, I'm all right the rest of the game. That's the joke on the team. Coach King had confidence in me, and the team won it today."

Mustang coach Joe Walsh lifted starter Mark Miller in the eighth after throwing 110 pitches. Miller gave up just four hits, struck out four and walked three before giving way to Todd Berkley, who gave up Berlett's long homer with one out.

Berlett then pitched out of a first-and-second situation in the eighth to give the Mavericks a chance. James McVicker's sacrifice bunt put Eikenberg in scoring position, then scored on Thomas' bloop hit just off the glove of shortstop Schoendienst.

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