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Slugger's walks fuel RB scoring machine

05/03/2014, 5:16pm PDT
By John Maffei

Mt. Carmel issues three free passes to Jackson, who comes around to score each time

Rancho Bernardo senior Alex Jackson (shown in a game earlier this season) has 46 career home runs, one off the San Diego Section record held by RB's John Drennen.

When it comes to Rancho Bernardo High catcher Alex Jackson, it’s a matter of picking your poison.

Friday, Mt. Carmel baseball coach Chachi Mueller chose to pitch to Jackson with no one on base.

Twice, Jackson homered — the 45th and 46th of his career, one off the San Diego Section record set by RB’s John Drennen in 2002-05.

Saturday, on a windless, triple-digit day, Mt. Carmel pitchers walked Jackson three times. The senior scored three runs and stole two bases as the No. 1-ranked Broncos beat the visiting Sundevils 11-2 to sweep the three-game Palomar League series.

Rancho Bernardo (20-3, 7-0) has won six games in a row and 14 of its last 15.

About two dozen pro scouts, including Cubs scouting director Jason McLeod and Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers, were on hand to watch Jackson.

“I’m fine with walks,” said Jackson, who is hitting .422 with 10 homers this season.

He also has walked 20 times, has been hit by a pitch 10 times and has struck out just seven times in 95 plate appearances.

“Mt. Carmel (14-11, 3-6) is a good team, they really are,” Jackson said. “If they give me something to swing at, I’ll swing. If not, I’ll take a walk and try to find a way to score.”

Hitting in the leadoff spot, Jackson walked and scored in the first. He also walked and scored to start a six-run rally in the third. And he walked and scored to start the sixth.

For Jackson to be patient, Rancho Bernardo’s other hitters have to drive in runs.

Saturday, Mondesi Gutierrez drove in three, Calvin Mitchell two and Drew Finley two. Alex Homick, Casey Henderson and Niko Holm had one RBI each.

Finley, a junior, transferred from Cathedral Catholic and had to sit out the first 30 days of the season.

He started on the mound Saturday and went four innings, striking out five.

“Sitting out 12 games set me back some,” Finley said. “I worked hard and tried to be a good teammate, but I missed playing.

“I really focused the last 10 days or so before I became eligible.

“I was a little rocky today, couldn’t throw my breaking stuff for a strike, but things have worked out pretty well.”

Jacob Gorman threw three innings of shutout relief to earn the save. He allowed two hits and struck out four.

“We swept a good club,” said RB coach Sam Blalock, who now has 855 career wins. “The big inning (which was helped by Mitchell’s two-RBI, bad-hop single) hurt them.”

Big innings is what RB does, though.

After the bad hop, the Broncos scored three more, two on Finley’s long double.

“Rancho Bernardo is the best team in the county for a reason,” said Mueller. “We played them really tough (5-3 and 6-5 losses) Wednesday and Friday. But elite teams find a way to get it done.

“We’re still building our program back, and RB is where we want to be.”

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