Varsity falls short in MCAL Championship

5/13: There was a big, enthusiastic crowd on hand at Albert Field for the MCAL Championship game. Redwood and MC had split the season series, so this figured to be a good matchup. In the end, MC prevailed on a walk-off HR in the 8th to win 3-2.

The bottom line in this game was that Giants couldn’t put together any clutch hits. Indeed, the Giants only had 2 hits total, to MC’s 7. It also didn’t help that Giants hitters struck out 10 times! Despite that, the Giants were up 2-1 going into the bottom on the 7th, but couldn’t hold on. MC got a run to tie the game, sending it into extras.

In the top of the 8th, Redwood went down without any hits. In the bottom of the 8th, Brad Burnes stepped up to the plate for MC and destroyed a ball over the left field wall. This was Burnes’ second dinger of the game and both of his blasts were big-boy home runs. Absolutely crushed. It was an impressive display, which unfortunately came at the Giants’ expense.

Rory Minty got the start for the Giants and he pitched well. He went six innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk. He certainly pitched well enough to win, but just didn’t get enough run support from the Giants’ offense. The only real notable AB for the Giants was Colin Cuneen, who put a charge into a ball that was hit to the warning track in left. The ball was smoked, but caught by the left fielder for a long out.

The Giants fell to 18-8 on the season. NCS play begins next week.

Varsity edges Tam in MCAL semis thriller

5/10: What a ballgame. The best Varsity game I’ve seen this season. The Giants beat Tam 6-5 to advance to the MCAL finals. Kent Goodman was the hero of the game – again. This is the third consecutive game where Goodman’s heroics sealed the victory. As you’ll recall, last Tuesday vs. Branson, the Giants entered the bottom of the 6th down 2-1. Goodman scorched a double down the left field line for 2 RBIs and a 3-2 lead. Last Thursday against Branson, Goodman threw a no-hitter. Today, Goodman blasted a 3-run homer to left to punctuate a 4-run first.

It felt like the Giants might run away with this one, but Tam once again proved that they are a tough ballclub. They scratched out a run in the third to make it 4-1. But the Giants answered. In the top of the 4th, Luca Bove hit a 2-run bomb to left to make it 6-1. Things were looking good for the Giants, but Tam rallied in the bottom of the 4th with 4 runs to make it 6-5. Neither team scored after the 4th, although there were many tense moments.

If the 3-run jack wasn’t enough, Goodman came in to pitch in the bottom of the 4th. He pitched three and two-thirds innings without giving up any hits and striking out 4. Wow. Seems like a case of the rich getting richer, but I’m philosophically inclined to admire and embrace greatness wherever it presents itself (sorry AOC). Goodman’s play over the past three games has been inspirational.

The Giants improved to 18-7 on the season and will take on MC for the MCAL championship. The game is on Friday at Albert Park at 7:00 pm.

Kent Goodman no-hits Branson

5/5: Kent Goodman had all of his pitches working on a nice afternoon at College of Marin versus Branson. On the strength of Goodman’s no-hitter, the Giants cruised to an 8-0 victory. Although Goodman’s pitching was the story of the game, Redwood’s offense was productive and efficient. The Giants tallied 11 hits. Cole McGowan had a big game with 3 hits, while Rex Solle went 2-3 with 2 RBIs.

Nick Gehrman came on in the seventh to pinch hit and blasted a single to left field. While this hit wasn’t terribly consequential to the outcome of the game, it raised Gehrman’s batting average to a lofty .500, while also pushing his on-base percentage to an eye-popping .714.

The Giants ended the MCAL regular season with a record of 17-7 overall, 12-4 in MCAL. The MCAL playoffs commence next week. The Giants (3 seed) will take on Tam (2 seed) at their place on Tuesday, May 10th at 4:30.

Fortune smiles on Varsity against Branson

5/3: After the debacle that was the 2-game sweep versus Tam, the MCAL schedule appeared favorable for the Giants. Drawing Branson at this point in the season was a blessing because the team needed to restore some of its confidence. Beating up on its small-school rival appeared to be just what they needed. Branson entered the game with a 4-10 MCAL record, and those 4 wins were against the San Rafael teams. The other MCAL teams had more or less pummeled them. And today was Senior Day (in theory).

Despite the mismatch, the Giants were fortunate to eke out a 3-2 win in this one. The starter for Branson, Wilson Wendt, gave one of the best pitching performances I’ve seen in the past two seasons. He had absolutely no velocity (fastball appeared to be in the 60’s), but he had nasty off-speed stuff with impeccable control (curve balls, cutters, change ups, all with movement). He pitched six innings and didn’t walk a single batter.  He kept the Redwood hitters off balance all game long, and for the most part, he limited them to weak contact.

There wasn’t much offense in this game. Branson scored both of its runs in the 4th on a walk and then a 2-run blast to left. The home run was off Rory Minty, but other than that, Minty pitched extremely well, tallying 7 strikeouts over 5 innings.

The Giants were down 2-1 going into the bottom of the 6th. They had a man on 1st with two outs and Cole McGowan hit a hard ground ball to the second baseman. The ball was hit right to him, and the second baseman got most of his glove on the ball, but he couldn’t make the play. This play was scored a “hit”, but I beg to differ. I was sitting down the first base line and I had a very good view of the play. Any average high school second baseman should make this play. At a minimum, he should’ve blocked the ball with his body (like we teach kids in Little League). I would have scored the play as an error. In any case, the inning should have been over, but the Giants took advantage of the miscue. Kent Goodman came in as a pinch-hitter and roped a double down the left field line. This ball was smoked and knocked in two runs to give Redwood the lead. On my scorecard, those two runs were unearned, but that doesn’t take anything away from Goodman’s clutch at-bat. Indeed, this was the second time this season (the other being the San Marin game) where Goodman came up huge, despite getting very few ABs this year.

The Giants are now 16-7 overall, 11-4 in MCAL. Game 2 of this series is on Thursday at COM. This will be the final MCAL regular season game.

JV Drops Season Finale at Tam, 7-3

The Redwood JV Baseball Giants’ 2022 season ended on a muted note, as the Giants fell, 7-3, to a much-improved Tam High squad.  Having “mercied” the same group of Red-tailed Hawks three days prior, Redwood came into the game with high expectations.

The sun was shining, the winds were calm, the crowd was large – and an umpire even showed up five minutes before the game.  All the elements seemed to be in place for a thrilling contest.

In a surprise move, erstwhile outfielder Gavin Soper took the mound for the Giants. Soper began dealing heat right away, striking out the side in the bottom of the first..

Redwood drew first blood in the top of the second. Giants’ first baseman Jordan Kimball dropped a single into right field, then promptly stole second. Left fielder Wyatt Turkington then ripped a double through the right-center field gap, scoring Kimball. A wild pitch and two walks then loaded the bases for Superman DH Tony Metaxas, who had torn up the Hawks at the plate three days before.

Hawks’ starter Henry Simpson, having watched that performance, brought his kryptonite to the party, in the form of a curveball which Metaxas watched spinning by to retire the side, with the Giants up 1-0.

Soper’s second inning didn’t go quite as smoothly as the first, as four walks, a pair of singles and a wild pitch resulted in two runs for the Hawks. One bright spot: with runners at first and third, Hawks second baseman Cooper Kift broke for second base, but was gunned down by Giants’ catcher Ryan Ip, with a throw so good that it held the runner at third.

All of this resulted in quite a workload for Soper, who by the end of two innings had already thrown 69 pitches. Nevertheless, with Hawks’ shortstop Hugo Barbieri’s bases-loaded popup to Kimball, the Giants were out of the inning down only 2-1.

Soper helped himself right away in the top of the third, leading off with a blast over the head of Hawks’ right fielder Holden Bougie. Soper thought about three, with a big turn around second base, but settled for a long double. Giants’ second baseman Max Paul sent a scorching grounder over the bag at first, which was somehow handled by Bonneau for one out. Soper took third, then came racing in to score on a wild pitch, tying the game 2-2. Soper had time to waltz in standing up, but elected to go for the hyper-aggressive head-first slide, which was definitely a crowd-pleaser, even on the Tam field artificial turf.

After a walk to Giants’ shortstop Sam Sumski, Kimball watched two of those kryptonite curveballs go by, then lifted the third one to shallow right center. Hawks’ center fielder Gavan Smeltzer looked like he had no chance at the ball, but raced in, and with a full dive, got his glove under the ball as it landed, robbing Kimball of a hit, and sucking away the Giants’ momentum. The pesky Smeltzer continued to vex the Giants throughout the game, including on the very next play, chasing down Giants’ right fielder Harrison Lapic’s deep drive to center, to retire the side.

The bottom of the third was the end of the line for the Soper pitching experiment. With Bonneau leading off, Soper bounced a pitch so far in front of the plate that it bounced up and clocked the umpire in the ear, triggering a five-minute timeout for first aid to be applied.

Soper’s final pitch to Bonneau was a wild ball four. As Ip chased the ball to the backstop, Bonneau unexpectedly rounded first and raced towards second base.  The umpire hadn’t called time out, and the ball was live. Ip fired down to second, but no one was covering, as the middle infield seemed uncertain that such an advance was even legal. Alas, it was, and so Bonneau helped himself to third base while he was at it.

With this bit of Keystone Kops behind them, and the score still tied, the Giants hoped to turn the page. They brought Paul in to pitch, swapping Soper to second base (another position he had not played all year).

Paul got Hawks’ catcher Ben Miller to line out to center fielder Jack Corvi, but Corvi’s throw wasn’t in time to catch Bonneau, who was tagging at third.  Several fans remarked that Bonneau had left the base prior to the catch, but the ump hadn’t seen that, so when Ip carried the ball to third, his protest was denied, and the run counted, putting the Hawks ahead 3-2.

A hit, a hit batsman and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out, bringing Hawks’ backup right fielder CJ Ceral to the plate. Ceral hit a line drive which found its way under the glove of Soper, scoring both runners and bringing the score to 5-2.

But the Hawks weren’t done yet. The pesky Smeltzer grounded into what could have been a 6-4-3 double play, but beat out the throw to first, taking second on a wild pitch, and then third on a wild pickoff attempt.  With two outs, Hawks’ left fielder PJ Ceral (brother of right fielder CJ) topped a grounder over third base to close out the scoring for the inning at 6-2.

The Giants tried to formulate a rally in the bottom of the fifth, but the bounces just didn’t go their way.  Soper led off with a blast nearly to the fence in right field, but CJ Ceral was playing him just right, and put it away for out number one.

Paul followed by tomahawking a high fastball up the middle for a single, followed by Sumski’s own hard-hit ball – a single to right field. And when Kimball poked a soft liner just out of Kift’s reach into right field, the Giants found themselves with the bases loaded and only one out.  But the rally was not to be; for some reason, at that moment, the baseball gods turned their backs on Redwood.

Lapic’s soft liner curved towards Barberie’s shoetops, where he bent down and plucked the ball on the fly for out number two, bringing Turkington to the plate. Turkington, who had been hitting the ball well all game, smoked a line drive up the middle, raising the hopes of the Redwood contingent – hopes that were just as quickly dashed by the long arm of Barberie, reaching out behind second base to snatch the ball out of the air, and quash the Giants’ rally.

The Hawks tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth, as 6’6” Reed Hanna, now in at first base, blasted a ball nearly over the fence in left center, scoring Hawks’ DH Jack Scalisi to make it 7-2. In retrospect, the Giants had saved another run on Scalisi’s grounder to Lapic, who caught the ever-pesky Smeltzer off the bag at third, and initiated a lengthy rundown involving four throws, until Ip finally applied the tag. For those of you scoring, the play went 5-2-6-2-5-2 (which is also Smeltzer’s locker combination).

Down five runs, the Giants made a last-gasp effort in the top of the seventh. With Hawks’ reliever Henry Stoll on the hill, Soper led off with a single to left field, followed by a walk to Paul. Sumski’s soft liner was handled by Kift, though, and when Kimball struck out in front of a slow curveball, the Giants were down to their last out.

A collective groan erupted when Lapic swung and missed at another curveball for strike three, but the groans became shouts when the ball skipped by Miller, and Lapic hustled to first base. The Giants were alive, and the bases were loaded! A subsequent walk to Turkington made the score 7-3.

Stoll,  now facing the tying run in Corvi at the top of the order, dished up a fastball that Corvi smashed to third base. But alas, Hawks’ third baseman Ryder Covey was there in front of it. Covey went to a knee to smother the ball, then picked it up, took two steps to the base for the force, and just like that, Redwood’s season was over.

The Giants closed out the year at 14-9 (8-4 MCAL). Max Paul led the team with a .407 batting average for the year, followed by Jack Corvi at .362, Sam Sumski at .339, Jordan Kimball at .333, and Quinn Miller at .321. Of course, no discussion of batting average can ignore Quinn Newlin  – off the charts at 1.000.

Paul and Lapic shared the team lead in RBIs with 14 apiece, followed by Chas Veley with 12.

In terms of pitching, Paul led the team in strikeouts with 35, followed by Veley with 28, and Cole Engstrom with 27.

The Redwood JV Baseball Giants journalistic staff wishes all players, families and coaches a beautiful, Covid-free summer, and looks forward to the resumption of play in 2023.

Varsity routed and swept by Tam

4/29: It was a beautiful day at Moody Field in Larkspur. Perfect weather. Reminded me of why we live here. Sadly, the game against Tam was anything but idyllic. Tam put the hammer down for an 11-2 drubbing. They swept the season series and are 5-0 against us over the past two seasons.

The first 5 innings of this game were horrific. Redwood gave up seven runs on seven walks. You just can’t win ballgames when you can’t find the strike zone. At the end of 5, the score was 7-0. The Giants showed some fight in the last two innings, but it was too little, too late.

There weren’t too many positives in this game, although there were a few. First, Tyler Blair returned to the mound after a long layoff. Blair was the ace of the staff last season, so this season was highly anticipated. An injury postponed his return, but it was great to see him back. And the team is going to need him down the stretch. Luca Bove made some great plays in right, including a sliding catch in foul territory where he crashed into the fence. A truly remarkable play. Charlie Welch was the star on offense with three hits. Rory Minty also crushed a double off the right field wall. Finally, I was impressed by Colin Cuneen’s AB. He came off the bench to pinch-hit and scorched a ball to right center for a base hit. In the end, though, the Giants just weren’t consistent enough on either side of the ball.

This team has an abundance of talented ballplayers. It is time for this team to put it together for the stretch run.

The Giants are now 15-7, 10-4 in MCAL.

JV “Mercies” Tam in Five Innings, 14-4

In the penultimate game of the 2022 season, the Redwood JV Baseball Giants took to Endriss Field and dominated their cross-town rivals the Tamalpais Red-Tailed Hawks, 14-4, in five innings.

With a depleted pitching core (three starters out with illness or injury, and one just returned from Covid), and having lost their last two league games, the Giants’ prospects seemed iffy against a traditionally strong Tam High program. To make things worse, no umpires showed up for the game, forcing both teams to send a coach to the mound each inning to call their respective pitcher’s balls and strikes.

Redwood starting pitcher Max Paul added to the uncertainty in the top of the first, giving up two hits, hitting two batters, flinging a wild pitch, and generally not looking like his usual accurate self.

With two outs, one run in, and runners on second and third, a Paul inside fastball grazed the uniform of Hawks’ second baseman Cooper Kift. Kift started towards first, but was called back to the box by Redwood’s coach-cum-ump.s. As if to clarify the situation, Paul proceeded to snap a curveball directly into Kift’s back, sending him to first after all, and loading the bases.

With the early momentum clearly with the Hawks, and their shortstop Tito Fierstein at the plate, Paul decided to wheel towards second base for a dangerous pickoff attempt of Hawks’ catcher Jack Scalisi. Out of the corner of his eye, however, Paul spotted Hawks’ right fielder James Bonneau leaning a little too far off of third base. Paul pump-faked to second, drawing Bonneau even further off the bag, then turned and fired to Giants’ third baseman Harrison Lapic, who applied the tag on Bonneau, extricating the Giants from the inning with the score just 1-0.

The Giants evened things up in their half of the frame, as speedy center fielder Jack Corvi started things off with a single to right field off of starting Hawks’ pitcher Hugo Barberie. Corvi took a big turn at first, then stole second base at his earliest opportunity, proceeding to third on a Barberie wild pitch.  Shortstop Quinn Miller then drove Corvi in with a sharp grounder to Fierstein.

Giants’ DH Tony Metaxas followed by muscling a ball off of his fists, then watching as it sailed over the head of Hawks’ center fielder Gavan Smeltzer, giving Metaxas an easy double. If Metaxas had barreled up that pitch, it likely would have been the longest ball hit by the JV team at Endriss field this year. But alas, it went for naught, as Metaxas was called out stealing third base. Even though Hawks’ third baseman Ryder Covey clearly missed the tag, and Tam’s coach-cum-ump should have had a good angle on the play from his perch on the mound, he called Metaxas out. Metaxas stood on the base chatting with his third base coach Mike Blum about next steps for quite some time, before jogging back to the dugout in disbelief.

In the top of the second, the Hawks’ Smeltzer reached base on an excellent bunt, then stole second base. Giants’ catcher Ryan Ip got off a good throw, but Smeltzer clearly beat it; nevertheless, The Redwood coach/ump called Smeltzer out to end the inning. At this point, with the score still tied, the crowd began to worry that the game was going to devolve into a series of retaliatory tit-for-tat calls, and might in fact hinge on the lack of umpires.

Fortunately, Redwood began to pull away as the game went on, making those bad calls less and less relevant. 

The third base line played heavily into Redwood’s progress in the bottom of the second. With Barberie relying on a slow curveball, Paul smacked a single directly over the bag to lead things off. First baseman Jordan Kimball followed with his own single in exactly the same spot, sending Paul to second. By the time Giants’ right fielder Wyatt Turkington hit a dribbler just along the same line, the Hawks’ Covey had wised up, and begun playing just off the base, so snatched Turkington’s grounder in foul territory. Unbothered, Turkington raked a line drive into left field, straight through Covey’s normal spot, and sending Paul around third and steaming towards home. 

Hawk left fielder PJ Ceral’s throw home was wildly offline, and Paul came in to put Redwood ahead 2-1, a lead they would never relinquish.  Just for good measure, Corvi sent his own shot down the third base line (just foul), before walking to load the bases. Miller, though, didn’t get the third base memo, flying out to center field to end the threat.

Tam High staged their last serious threat in the top of the third. Ceral led off the inning with a wicked shot to right center which Corvi ran down handily. But after hitting two batters and walking another, and a wild pitch to boot, Paul had loaded the bases. Somehow, he bore down and got Hawks’ catcher Jack Scalisi on a borderline called strike three, bringing Kift to the plate.

With two outs, bases loaded, and tensions high, Kift launched a ball into deep left center, and it looked like big trouble for the Giants. As the myriad Hawk runners rounded the bases, Corvi and left fielder Gavin Soper each raced toward the flight of the ball, Corvi having to adjust his path due to the curvature of the fifty-foot fence which protrudes oddly into center field at Endriss.

As the ball descended, and just when all seemed lost, Corvi stormed within reach. Extending his left arm to the backhand, he plucked the ball out of the air in full stride, saving at least three runs (and possibly four). As Redwood erupted in cheers, the Tam bench was visibly shaken, and the Hawks seemed to go quiet for the rest of the game.

With the air effectively out of Tam’s tires, the Giants broke the game wide open in the bottom of the third.  The left-handed Soper, facing a defensive shift, slapped a single into the open spaciousness offered him in left field. Paul then helped himself with a rocket up the middle, before second baseman Sam Sumski slammed a pitch down the line in left, scoring Soper and waltzing into second base with a double. Kimball then worked a full count, fighting off four foul balls before walking to load the bases, which spelled an exit from the mount for Barberie, the score now 3-1.

Tam brought on first baseman Reed Hanna to pitch. Hanna, a gangly 6’6” freshman, proved to be a flamethrower, but a wild one, walking his first two batters, to make the score 5-1. And when Hanna next managed the ball over the plate, Corvi smacked it to left field for another run. Miller’s subsequent groundout to Kift scored yet another, making it 7-1.

After drilling Metaxas in the back to load the bases again, Hanna went on to walk in his third run of the inning before being yanked in favor of Covey, who swapped his spot with Hanna at third base.

With the score now 8-1, and Paul at the plate, Tam’s coach/ump appeared to be tired of calling balls against his own pitchers, and decided to expand the zone. Paul watched a couple of called “strikes” sail past well outside. Realizing what was going on, Paul responded by stretching his bat a foot beyond the plate to foul off Covey’s next outside pitch, then doing his best to reach the next one, sending a can of corn high into the air behind first base. New Hawks’ first baseman Henry Stoll twisted himself around trying to find the ball, before letting it drop behind him, scoring both Corvi and Metaxas.  Paul crossed first wearing a satisfied smile at the righteous turn of events.

With runners on first and third, Sumski scorched a ball to left, but Ceral was standing right there, and made the putout to close out the inning with the Giants up 10-1.

Moving to the top of the fourth, the Hawks didn’t quit. Stoll led off with a grounder deep in the hole. Miller made a terrific play on the ball, but his throw just missed Stoll at first by a hair. After a walk to Hawks’ DH Eli Solem, the weak-hitting Smeltzer stunned the crowd with a blast into left center out of Soper’s reach, rolling for a standup triple, two runs scored, and Paul’s exit from the game, now up 10-3.

Sumski, switched places with Paul and struck Ceral out looking on a curveball, then got Covey to ground to Miller for out number two, conceding run number 4.  Sumski then walked Berberie before retiring the side on Bonneau’s weak dribbler to Kimball.

The Giants tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fourth, with the highlight being Corvi’s perfectly-executed hit-and-run. With Kimball on third and Turkington on first, Kift ran to cover as Turkington broke for second on the pitch. Cool as a cucumber, Corvi slapped Covey’s offering through the exact spot Kift had vacated, scoring Kimball and sending Turkington to third.  A balk by Covey on a subsequent pickoff attempt scored Turkington, making the score 12-4.

The thrills didn’t stop in the top of the fifth either, as, with a man on, Stoll crushed a ball deep down the left field line. Soper, playing Stoll towards center, raced at least thirty yards across left field and threw his body over the foul line at a dead sprint, snatching the ball out of the air in full flight. The fans rose to their feet in disbelief, as this appeared to be a catch worthy of the all-time highlight reel. But when a small speck of white soon appeared on the grass beside Soper’s prone body, they realized that the force of Soper’s impact on the ground had jostled the ball loose from his glove, resulting in merely a long, exciting foul ball.

With runners on first and third and one out, Stoll broke for second. Ip’s throw to catch Stoll triggered Scalisi in turn to break for home. But Paul, now playing second base, cut off the throw and returned a perfect strike to Ip, who stood firm with the tag for out number two as his counterpart Scalisi attempted to bowl him over.  Solem’s long fly ball to center settled into Corvi’s glove at the base of the fence for what would be the Hawks’ final out of the game.

Needing two runs to build a ten-run lead and therefore put the game away, the Giants got to work in the bottom of the fifth. Soper drilled an absolute rope down the right field line for a standup triple. With the right field fence temporarily removed, the ball continued rolling well out of play, but the lack of umpiring made for a lack of ground rules, so Soper’s triple stood.

Paul followed with his own sizzling shot to first, but Stoll was in position for that one, and made the play for out number one. Sumski had better luck, though, slamming another ball over the left fielder’s head for his second standup double of the day, and scoring Soper.  One run to go.

Kimball fought off a pitch in on his fists, sending a weak grounder to the right side. Covey, Kift, and Stoll all converged on the ball, leaving no one to cover first, where Kimball strolled in like a boss, sending the potential winning run over to third in the form of Sumski.

With the Hawks’ infield in, Lapic poked a soft liner which dropped into shallow right field. Bonneau desperately heaved the ball towards the plate, but Sumski came sliding in just ahead of the throw, triggering the mercy rule, and ending the game at 14-4.

While Corvi and Paul led all hitters with three hits apiece, everyone on the Redwood side seemed hot at the plate this afternoon, with no fewer than six Giants tallying two RBI’s apiece.  Paul raised his team-leading batting average back to .400 (amongst batters with more than two plate appearances, ruling out Quinn Newlin’s otherworldly 1.000), with Corvi close behind at .395.

The Giants, now 14-8 on the year (8-3 MCAL), will close out their memorable season on Friday against these same Hawks on the road in Mill Valley.

Varsity suffers heartbreaker in extras at Tam

4/26: After a week off, the Giants returned to MCAL play with a matchup against Tam in Mill Valley. This game was real horrorshow, and I don’t mean that in a grand, Alex DeLarge sort of way. The teams were tied 2-2 at the end of 7, but Tam took the game in the 8th on walk-off walk.

There wasn’t a whole lot of offense in this game. The Giants had 5 hits, while the Red Tailed Hawks had just 4. The biggest difference in the game was that Giant hitters struck out 7 times, while the Hawks only tallied 4 punch outs. In addition, Redwood pitching walked 8 batters, while Tam pitchers only gave up one free pass.

Rory Minty got the start on the mound and he pitched well for 6 innings. He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits, with 3 strikeouts and 3 walks.  Rex Solle came on in the 7th and he pitched a scoreless frame to keep the game tied at 2-2; however, he came back out in the 8th and couldn’t find the strike zone. He retired the first batter in the inning, but then walked 4 straight batters to force in the winning run. Inasmuch as Solle has been incredibly effective and dominant all season, I suspect that he will bounce back in heroic fashion since he is such an outstanding ballplayer. He just didn’t quite have it today, although I’m told by a fan who was behind the plate that the strike zone was very tight.

Without a doubt, this was team’s biggest loss of the season; however, the good news is that if the squad can rally and defeat Tam on Friday, they will reclaim first place. With that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that Friday’s game is a must-win, and given the stakes involved, I’m expecting a “John Kreese-no mercy-sweep the leg” type of intensity in that game. We’ll find out what this team is made of, and perhaps they will even learn what it takes to sell real estate.

The Giants now sit at 15-6 overall, 10-3 in MCAL. Friday’s game is at Moody.

JV Baseball Tops Pinole Valley, 8-1

The Redwood JV Baseball Giants snapped back from disappointing losses in their last two games, taking out their frustration on visiting non-league opponent the Pinole Valley Spartans. The Giants rested many regulars for the game, but the fresh faces in today’s lineup gelled together nicely, coming out on top 8-1.

Julian Kempler took the mound for Redwood, and looked like a new man, throwing 70% of his pitches for strikes, and holding the Spartans to just one walk and three hits over five shutout innings. Kempler started off the game nicely, with a 1-2-3 inning. 

Redwood got on the board in the bottom of the first, as shortstop Quinn Miller bashed a single on the first pitch he saw from Spartan starter Craig Jensen. Miller promptly stole second, then took third on a wild pitch, before right fielder Wyatt Turkington reached out to poke a single just inside the right field line, scoring Miller.

In the bottom of the third, Miller was back at it, slamming a shot over the center fielder’s head for a leadoff double. First baseman Jordan Kimball walked, while Miller was stealing third base, then immediately stole second himself.  Lapic brought the crowd to their feet with a line drive to left which landed just foul, before walking to load the bases.

Turkington lined a pitch, but right at Spartan right fielder Daniel Sheppard, so was unable to advance the runners. But left fielder Drew Song took an outside pitch the other way into left for his second hit of the game, scoring Miller.  Catcher Ryan Ip followed with his own single into left, bringing Kimball across, and making it 3-0.

With runners on 1st and 2nd, center fielder Theo Eschliman continued the Giants’ streak of hard contact, smashing a grounder down the third base line. Spartan third baseman Gael Castellanos dived to make a spectacular play, landing with his glove on the bag for out number two, before leaping to his feet and firing across the diamond. The throw would have been in time, but went wild, allowing Eschliman to reach safely, and scoring Song to make it 4-0. Kempler (obviously eager to get back on the mound) then grounded out to shortstop to end the inning. 

In the top of the fourth, Spartan shortstop Junior Malan led off by crushing a ball to center field for a standup double, but was unable to advance. Following a walk and a strikeout, Spartan DH Dennis Rae lined a ball to Giants’ second baseman Elakai Anela, who grabbed it and wheeled to second, doubling off Malan to end the inning.

The Giants didn’t let up in their half of the inning, putting two more runs on the board. Anela led off by taking a fastball in the back, before Miller rapped his third hit of the game. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, before Lapic scored Anela with a long sacrifice fly to left field. Miller scored soon thereafter on another wild pitch, bringing the score to 6-0.

In the top of the fifth, Anela charged a weak grounder by Spartan second baseman Mario Lopez, throwing it away and allowing Lopez to advance to second. This all seemed to be a setup, however, as Spartan center fielder Jaylen Smalls lined another ball to Anela, who snagged it and turned what looked to be an instant replay from the previous inning, doubling off Lopez at second base to retire the side.

Max Paul came in to close out the last two innings, holding the Spartans to one run on two hits. Meanwhile, the Giants still had a few tricks up their collective sleeve, as they came to bat in the bottom of the sixth. Lapic led off and was plunked, bringing substitute right fielder Danny Lim to the plate.

Lim hit the ball sharply off the glove of Castellanos, who was now in to pitch. Jensen, now at third base, pounced on the carom, but threw it away at first, allowing Lapic to score, while Lim continued all the way around to third base. Song followed with his third hit of the game, scoring a joyous Lim, who made his way triumphantly into the Giant dugout, the score now 8-1.

Quinn Newlin, who had come in to play center field, followed with a sharp single to left field, making him a perfect two for two on the year. Newlin, who joined the team as a scorekeeper after last playing baseball in third grade, maintained his world-record 1.000 batting average, never having been put out in the last seven years!

Down to their last at-bats, the Spartans managed to load the bases on two walks and a hit batsman, bringing Castellanos to the plate.  A palpable gasp of hope arose from the Spartan fans as Castellanos lifted a ball to deep right field. Danny Lim, who hadn’t yet handled a chance in the field this year, took a few steps back, blinked once or twice, then raised up his glove to make the play and end the game.

With the win, the Giants move to 13-8 on the year (7-3 MCAL). They close out their season next week with two games against Tam, hosting the Red-tailed Hawks on Tuesday, before traveling to Mill Valley on Friday for the season finale.

JV Baseball Drops Rubber Match with Archie

Primed for revenge after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Archie Williams, the Redwood Junior Varsity Baseball Giants took the home field a week later… and fell flat, committing six errors on the day against just two hits, and falling 8-2.

Pushed out four days from the original schedule by rainy weather, the game started in steady rain, eventually giving way to drizzle, and then a damp chill which seemed to take effect on the Redwood bats for most of the day.

Taking the mound for the Giants was Chas Veley, coming off a six-inning no-hit outing against these same Falcons the week before. But today was not destined to be a repeat performance.  Although technically the Falcons did not collect a hit in the first inning, they pulled together two runs on a series of walks and errors, as Veley had trouble finding the plate.

The highlight of the inning was Jack Corvi’s diving, spinning catch of Falcon third baseman Hudson Lofrano’s popup to shallow center field. Corvi came sprinting through the mist, just as the rain was at its heaviest. 

After the Giants went down quickly in the bottom of the first, Archie Williams took to the basepaths again, starting with a leadoff walk to Falcon second baseman Lucas Winter. Veley, looking increasingly uncomfortable on the mound, sandwiched a pair of wild pitches around a wild throw on Falcon right fielder Jackson Oliver Roa’s bunt attempt, firing the ball over first baseman Jordan Kimball’s head to score Winter, making it 3-0.

After two more walks and the Falcons’ first two hits of the game brought the score to 5-0, Veley, now in obvious pain, left the game mid-count with the bases loaded and Falcon shortstop Sam Black at the plate. Veley, suffering from back spasms, had thrown 68 pitches in just 1 1/3 innings.

Fortunately reliever Max Paul was on hand to get the Giants out of the inning without further damage, striking out Black before getting Falcon DH Henry Hanavan on a soft line drive to first base, where Kimball made a leaping play to retire the side. Paul wound up throwing 87 pitches over the remainder of the game. 

The Giants did get a run back in the bottom of the inning, as Paul worked a leadoff walk and stole second, moving over to third on a single by Giants’ shortstop Sam Sumski. Left fielder Gavin Soper then rapped a hard ground ball which was too hot for Falcon first baseman Ethan Frankel to handle, scoring Paul, and making it 5-1. Sumski nearly scored on right fielder Harrison Lapic’s bunt attempt, but was thrown out at the plate, retiring the side.

In the top of the fourth, Paul and Sumski teamed up again, this time in the field. Falcon catcher Gillie Roth blasted a grounder straight back up the middle. Paul, trying to avoid a broken ankle, wound up kicking the ball towards Sumski, who kicked it once again before picking it up and throwing out Roth.

As the Redwood bats remained quiet through the middle innings, the Falcons strung together a pair of singles in the bottom of the fifth. Oliver Roa then smashed a ball to deep left field, out of Soper’s reach, scoring two and bringing the score to 7-0.

The Giants managed another run against Falcon starting pitcher Peter Irwin in the bottom of the sixth, as third baseman Quinn Miller walked, then took second and third on subsequent wild pitches. With two outs, DH Tony Metaxas walked and stole second, bringing Paul to the plate. 

Paul’s soft chopper down the third base line couldn’t be played, bringing Miller across the plate, and Metaxas to third. It also represented the end of the line for Irwin, who had reached his limit of 90 pitches, giving way to the mellifluously-named Mason Thongnopneua in relief. Thongnopneua retired Sumski on a line drive to left field to close out the inning.

Jack Corvi provided some excitement in the top of the seventh, racing in for yet another diving catch in shallow center field, but the Falcons closed out their scoring on a walk and two more errors. The Giants went down in order in their last at-bats, making the final score 8-2.

The Giants, now 12-8 (7-3 MCAL), square off Friday in a non-league contest against the Pinole Valley Spartans from the East Bay, before closing out their season next week with a home and away series with Tam.

Varsity sweeps Archie

4/14: Under drizzly skies at Archie Williams, the Giants took advantage of Falcon miscues and poor pitching to win 6-1. Redwood only tallied 5 hits, but they took advantage of an Archie meltdown in the fourth to score 4 runs. Charlie Welch started the inning with a single, Luca Bove walked, Rory Minty singled, Tyler Blair walked, Nick Gehrman was hit by a pitch, and Merritt Brinckerhoff bunted and reached on an error. When the dust settled, Redwood was up 4-0. The Giants tacked on two more runs in the fifth to take a 6-0 lead. Archie threatened in the fifth, but was only able to put one run across on a home run over the “short porch” in left.

Kent Goodman got the start and he pitched five and two-thirds solid. He gave up one run on 3 hits, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Jerry Omara came on in relief in the sixth and closed the game out. Omara recorded 2 strikeouts over an inning and a third, and didn’t give up any hits or walks.

The Giants now stand at 15-5 overall, 10-2 in MCAL. The ballclub has next week off.

JV no-hits Archie, but loses 1-0

The Redwood JV Baseball Giants lost a heartbreaker of a game Tuesday to the Archie Williams Peregrine Falcons, despite the heroic efforts of Giants’ pitcher Chas Veley, who threw a no-hitter over six innings for the second time this year. The final score was 1-0.

Veley, returning from a two-week hiatus for a back injury, re-emerged stronger than ever,  in a scintillating pitchers’ duel with Archie Williams’s Sam Black. Veley struck out ten batters to Black’s seven, and walked only one to Black’s two.  Both pitchers went the distance, as there was no reason for either coach to make a move.

Both teams played outstanding defense throughout most of the game. In the bottom of the third, Falcon second baseman Jack Evans’s high chopper over Veley’s head looked like it could be trouble, but Giants’ shortstop Sam Sumski charged across the diamond to make the play.

In the top of the fourth, Veley tried to help himself with a single up the middle, but Giants’ second baseman Max Paul’s sharp grounder was expertly handled by Falcon shortstop Luke Winter, who turned it into a 6-4-3 double play. Paul, in response, handled all three chances in the bottom of the fourth, which was the only inning of the first five in which Veley did not strike out at least two Falcons.

Redwood managed more contact than the Falcons on the day, with fewer strikeouts and three singles, but were unable to advance past second base. In contrast, the Falcons never even hit the ball out of the infield, yet somehow managed to push a runner across the plate, in a maddening series of events which one might summarize as “The World’s Most Unearned Run.”

With the game locked in a scoreless tie after 5 ½ innings, Winter, who had been DH’ed for the entire game, arrived at bat for the first time of the day.  Veley delivered a fastball right down the middle of the plate, which was called just high.

Veley, slightly rattled by the call, proceeded to plunk Winter in the back of the helmet on the next pitch. Fortunately, Winter was ok, but the Falcons now had the potential go-ahead run on base.  With the crowd noise rising, Veley responded by picking off Winter, who was frozen so far off of first base that he had no choice but to run towards second, where he looked to be out by a mile.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Giants’ first baseman Jordan Kimball’s throw down to second hit Winter squarely in the back, allowing him into scoring position.  With this development, a small group of Falcon students who had been chanting behind the plate became so obstreperous that they had to be warned by the umpire, and threatened with expulsion from the grounds.

The crowd noise did nothing to improve the Falcons’ hitting against Veley, who bore down and struck out Falcons’ second baseman Jack Evans for out number one, bringing leadoff hitter and Falcon center fielder Max Lefferts to the plate.

Lefferts, who had struck out looking in his first two at-bats, managed a comebacker to Veley. Veley turned and ran at Winter, who had made a break to third, and again looked to be out by a substantial margin. But sadly, Veley’s toss to third baseman Quinn Miller sailed high, tapping off of Miller’s glove and allowing Winter to race around third and score the go-ahead run.  Lefferts took second on the play.

With one out, Falcon third baseman Hudson Lofrano tapped another comebacker to Veley, who this time decided to take the safe route, keeping it himself and tagging Lofrano along the basepath for out number two, while allowing Lefferts to take third.

With Falcon right fielder Jackson Oliver Roa at the plate, Veley uncorked a pitch which got past Giants’ catcher Ryan Ip, prompting Lefferts to break for home. Ip scrambled to recover the ball at the backstop, turning and throwing to Veley, who was racing in to cover the plate. In a dramatically close play, Veley’s tag on Lefferts arrived just in time, retiring the side and preventing another unearned Falcon run.

But the damage had been done. Leading off the top of the seventh, Paul, the only Giant who hit Black well all day, raised a stir with a line drive to center field, but Lefferts was there to make the play.  And after Sumski and Kimball went down swinging, reality sunk in that there were to be no more chances. Redwood had fallen, and now stood 12-7 on the year (7-2 MCAL).

The Giants get another chance at home against the Falcons, when the two teams square off again Thursday at Moody Field. Next week, the Giants travel to Livermore on Monday, before hosting the Spartans of Pinole Valley later in the week.

Varsity edges Archie

4/12: Varsity returned to MCAL play with a matchup against Archie Williams at Moody Field. Not much offense in this game, but the Giants did just enough to win, 2-1.

The Giants started fast, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the first. Merritt Brinckerhoff started the inning off with a single; Cole McGowan walked, and then Charlie Welch singled to drive in the first run. McGowan later scored on a wild pitch for the 2nd run. Redwood didn’t score the rest of the game, but the 2 runs in the first were all they needed.

Rory Minty started on the hill for the Giants. He pitched five solid, giving up one run on 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. He started the sixth, giving up a single, so Redwood brought in Rex Solle in relief. Solle proceeded to mow down the next three hitters, striking out the side. Solle came back out in the seventh and gave up a single and a HBP, but he got out of the inning by striking out two hitters, and inducing a ground ball for the final out.

The Giants are now 14-5 overall, 9-2 in MCAL. These two teams will meet again on Thursday afternoon at Archie.

Varsity falls to Foothill

4/9: After two convincing victories on Thursday and Friday, Varsity made it to Saturday’s championship game of the James Logan tournament in Pleasanton. They faced Foothill in a game that everyone knew would be tough. Foothill came into the game as a highly-ranked Bay Area team with a 14-1 record. In addition, the game was as at Foothill’s field, giving them home-field advantage. The game was tight (2-2) going into the bottom of the fifth, but Foothill exploded for 4 runs in the fifth and cruised to a 6-2 victory.

Jerry Omara got the start on the mound for the Giants. He pitched fairly well for 4 innings, only giving up 2 runs, but he appeared to run out of gas in the fifth when he walked 3 batters and gave up a single. He left the game with Giants trailing 3-2, but the bases were loaded with no outs. Nick Gehrman came on in relief and tried to limit the damage, but a weakly-hit bloop single by the first batter he faced knocked in 2 runs, running the score up to 5-2. Gehrman was able to pitch out of the inning, but not before Foothill put another run on the board, leaving the score 6-2 going into the sixth. Neither team scored the rest of the way.

On offense, the Giants only mustered 5 hits. Charlie Welch, Luca Bove, Matty Jessen, Rex Solle, and Nick Gehrman each had a hit for the Giants. The Giants’ two runs were driven in by Luca Bove (single) and Jerry Omara (sac fly).

On a sad note, Merritt Brinckerhoff injured his toe in the Santa Rosa game and was not able to play today. The date of his return is unknown.

The Giants are now 13-5, 8-2 in MCAL. The Giants return to MCAL play next week with a 2-game series against Archie.

Varsity takes care of Santa Rosa

4/8: Santa Rosa came into this game with a 3-10 record, so no one expected this game to be close. The Giants prevailed 6-2, but the difference in the game was that Redwood came through with some clutch hitting and pitching when it mattered. SR, on the other hand, didn’t get much done in the key moments of the game.

Kent Goodman got the start on the mound for the Giants. He looked sharp; his fastball was live and he was locating his sharp-breaking curveball for strikes. Over four and a third shutout innings, Goodman only gave up 4 hits, while punching out 6. Goodman found a little trouble in the 5th. He gave up a walk and a single and SR had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. Rex Solle came on in relief and this was where the game went south for SR. At this point, the Giants were up 3-0. Inexplicably, and reminiscent of a Little League play, the SR runner at 1st went halfway down to second in an attempt to get into a run down, so that the runner from 3rd could score. Remember this play from Little League? The problem, which seemed lost on the SR coaching staff, is that while this play often works in Little League, it doesn’t work against a good high school team. And even if it did, it wasn’t an appropriate call given the score and the point in the game. In any case, Redwood had this guy in a rundown and then then the runner from 3rd broke for home. Rory Minty calmly threw a strike to home plate and cut the runner down by a good 15 feet. It was an ugly play to put it mildly.  I can only hope that no young children were exposed to it.

After this debacle on the base paths, the life was sucked out of SR and they really had no chance. They did, however, show a little life in the 7th. Going into the bottom of the 7th, the Giants were up 6-0 and Johnny Bayler came in to pitch. Bayler quickly found himself in a jam, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks. The Giants’ manager went to the pen and brought in (rarely used as a pitcher) Cole McGowan. McGowan came in throwing good old-fashioned heat, but walked the first batter to load the bases with no one out. Needless to say, this was a golden opportunity for SR who was down 6-2 at this point. McGowan faced the pressure situation with his best stuff, striking out the next 3 batters to secure the victory.

On offense, the Giants only tallied 6 hits, but 2 of those hits were long balls. Matty Jessen crushed his 2nd homerun of the year – a deep shot to left, while Cole McGowan hit a long drive over the wall in right, his first homerun of the season. McGowan also notched a single and drove in 2 runs. Nick Gehrman, Charlie Welch, and Tyler Blair also had hits for the Giants. Speaking of Blair, it was great to see him back in the lineup after many months on the IR. In addition to a basehit, Blair also knocked in a run.

After the victory, the Giants are 13-4, 8-2 in MCAL. Tomorrow’s game figures to be much tougher as the Giants take on 14-1 Foothill.