Varsity Rides Stellar Pitching to Sweep of Marin Catholic

The Giants got strong outings from starting pitchers Tyler Blair, Mikey Bender and Sam Rice and paired it with strong defense to sweep Marin Catholic in a three game series.


4/6: Tyler Blair got the call as the Giants starting pitcher to open the three-game set against MC at Moody Field and he did not disappoint, going six strong shutout innings in a 10-0 drubbing of the Wildcats.

After Blair retired the Wildcats in order in the top of the first, the Giants served notice against MC’s tough lefty starting pitcher Van Larson of the kind of series that it was going to be. Cole McGowan got things started with a walk and Charlie Welch followed with a line drive single to center. After a double steal from McGowan and Welch, Luca Bove followed with a deep sac fly to center on which McGowan scored and Welch advanced to third. Ben Cohen followed with a sharp single to left to drive in Welch for a 2-0 lead. Sam Rice then reached on an error by MC’s shortstop. After another double steal by the Giants, Charlie Ginsburg singled through a drawn in MC infield to plate Cohen and Rice and after one inning the Giants were up 4-0.

Blair took that great start for the Giants and made it stick, surrendering only three hits in six innings of work, striking out three and walking only one batter. Blair’s was locating well with a plus fastball all day and mixing in a healthy dose of curves and changeups to keep the MC hitters off balance.

Four runs would have been plenty for Blair, but the Giants added two runs in each of the third, fifth and sixth innings, aided by some suboptimal defense from the Wildcats.

Cohen paced the offense with three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Welch and Bender each notched two hits.


4/8: After cruising in the series opener against MC, the Giants won a nail biter in the second game of the series, winning by a 3-2 count in Kentfield.

The Giants scored single runs in the first and second innings, with Sam Rice absorbing a painful RBI on a bases loaded hit by pitch in the first and line drive machine Welch singling in Bender in the second.

Bender got the starting assignment for the Giants, and although his command was not there at times, he showed a lot of grit in working out of trouble on several occasions over the course of his six and two-thirds innings and 104 pitches. On the day Bender tallied eight strikeouts, and many of them were key with MC runners on base as Bender also walked three and hit three MC batters.

The Giants were leading 3-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. After MC put runners on first and second with one out, Bender induced a grounder to shortstop that had the look of a game ender. Welch whipped it to Ginsburg for the force at second, but the MC baserunner came in hard at second and Ginsburg’s throw to first was wild and bounced into the MC dugout, allowing a run to score and the MC runner to advance to second. So instead of game over it was MC with a runner on second and two out.

After MC’s next hitter was hit by a pitch to put the winning run on first, Coach Firenzi summoned Kent Goodman in relief of Bender. With the game on the line, Goodman coolly induced a grounder to Welch at short for the force out to Ginsburg at second for the final out.

Welch and Bove led the Giants in base hits on the day with two each and Rice had two RBIs.


4/9: The Giants finished off the three game sweep of MC with a 4-1 victory behind another strong start from Rice and some great work on defense.

Continuing a trend established in the first two games of the series, the Giants again jumped on MC early with two runs in the top of the first. McGowan got things started nicely by cracking a line drive double over the head of MC’s right fielder. Charlie Welch then reached on an error by MC’s third baseman and Bove followed with a base on balls. Cohen drove in one with a forceout and Rice followed with an RBI single to right to complete the inning’s scoring.

Rice was looking good on the mound and also had MC totally befuddled on the base paths. The lefty picked two runners off of first base with a very deceptive move that caught MC’s baserunners flat footed and thrown out by plenty. And in the bottom of the third with MC runners on first and third and two outs and the score 3-1 in favor of the Giants, MC’s runner at first took off for second before Rice even began his windup in an attempt to get in a rundown and give the runner on third a window to score before being tagged out. But Rice had it sniffed out all the way, and calmly stepped off the rubber, took a step toward the runner between first and second and faked a throw. The MC base runner on third bit hard on the fake and broke for home, but Rice threw him out by ten feet to end the inning.

The Giants came up with another game changing defensive play in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and a runner on first, MC hit a long double over Blair’s head and off the fence in left. With two outs and the MC runner moving on contact, it seemed like a no brainer that MC would score to cut the Giants’ lead in half. Blair’s throw back to the infield sailed over cut off man Welch, but Ginsburg had him backed up and unleashed a one-hop strike to the plate to cut down the MC runner and preserve the two run lead.

The Giants added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on a Bove double to score Welch. Goodman relieved Rice and cruised through the final two innings, striking out two and consistently freezing MC’s hitters with a big over the top curve that he was featuring in any count.

Welch and Bove again led the Giants in hits for the day with two each. Welch scored three times and Bove had two RBIs.


Next week the Giants play a pair against Novato – Tuesday at Novato and at Moody on Friday (both games 4:30pm).

Varsity Sweeps Pair from San Rafael

3/30: The Giants took advantage of some dicey San Rafael defense and prevailed over the Bulldogs for a 6-3 road victory.

Cole McGowan drew a walk to lead off the game for Redwood. After Charlie Welch hit into a force out and Luca Bove grounded out to third, Ben Cohen reached on an error by San Rafael’s first baseman, with Welch coming home on the play. After a walk to Charlie Ginsburg, Sam Rice belted a line drive directly at San Rafael’s center fielder, who took two hard steps in before belatedly breaking back. But it was too late and the ball sailed over his head for a two-RBI triple for Rice, and the Giants led 3-0 after their first at bat.

Mikey Bender got the start for Redwood and unlike his pitching counterpart Jake Verweil for San Rafael, Bender enjoyed some solid defense behind him. Catcher Ethan Crawford stood out in this regard, twice cutting down San Rafael baserunners on attempted steals. Bender finished hit outing with five strikeouts and two earned runs allowed over five innings.

The Giants added single runs in the second and third but Verweil largely kept the Giants at bay, and heading into the sixth inning Redwood’s lead stood at 5-3 and it was anyone’s ballgame. But Tyler Blair took the mound for the final two innings and squelched any hope of a Bulldog comeback, overpowering San Rafael’s hitters with his fastball and recording four strikeouts over the final two innings.

Redwood added an important insurance run in the top of the seventh, as Welch came through with a clutch single to plate pinch runner Josh Marrero for the Giants sixth and final tally. On the day, only one of the Giants six runs was earned. Unfortunately for Verweil and the Bulldogs, even if unearned they all count.

Rice led the offense on the day with two hits and three RBIs.


4/1: After a collective struggle on offense against San Rafael in the series opener on Tuesday, Redwood broke out the bats on Thursday and rolled to a 13-2 win over the Bulldogs at Moody Field.

Leading 1-0 heading into the bottom of the third, the Giants broke things open in a big way. Charlie Welch got things started with a single to left. After Welch stole second, Luca Bove followed with a bunt so perfectly placed down the third base line that San Rafael’s third baseman, playing deep in respect of Bove’s power, didn’t even bother attempting a throw to first. Once the table was set, the Giants went on to score six runs in the inning, with key RBI hits coming from Sam Rice and Cole McGowan.

Rice got the start on the mound for the Giants and cruised through the first three innings, allowing a single run and striking out four. However, in the top of the fourth, Rice lost his command and issued three consecutive walks to start the inning, and the Giants 7-0 lead was not looking quite as large.

Coach Firenzi called on Kent Goodman in relief of Rice to calm things down and he did just that – allowing only a single inherited runner to score and striking out a pair to end the inning. Goodman went on to complete three shutout innings, posting four strikeouts along the way.

Redwood blew it open in the bottom of the fourth with four more runs, highlighted by RBI hits from Rice and Connor Yang. Myles Kawashima took the last inning on the mound to close out the game. Along the way Redwood got standout defensive plays late from Colin Cunneen on a diving stop at first base and from Nick Gehrman in right field on an over the shoulder running catch in right to end the game.

Welch was an on-base machine for the Giants, reaching five times on the day with three hits and two walks. Ben Cohen was not far behind, reaching four times. Each scored twice. Rice added three hits of his own to go with two RBIs, and McGowan had two hits and two RBIs.


Next week the Giants have a three game set with Marin Catholic – Tuesday at Moody and followed by games at MC on Thursday and Friday (all games 4:30pm).

Varsity Takes Two from Terra Linda to Open 2021 Season

It was one year and two weeks ago that Redwood’s varsity baseball season was shut down by the coronavirus global pandemic after its MCAL home opener versus Terra Linda.

The Giants were finally back on the field for games this week with Terra Linda again the opponent. But before relaying some of the details of those games, we would like to acknowledge the contributions to the Redwood Baseball program made by last year’s seniors. The pandemic has taken many things big and small from many people in the last year, and for these seniors it took away their final season, which for many of them was their last in organized baseball.

These seniors – Isaak Irmini-Kreft, Drake Goodman, Jesse Gassman, Alex Hagen, Jackson Reed, Nick Welch, Lucas Roy, Matt Smalbach, Satoshi Miki, Matt Birchenough and Jake Gassman – comprised a deep and talented class. We’ll never know where together with Coach Firenzi and his staff these seniors could have led last year’s team, but it surely would have been fun to watch.


3/23: The Giants opened the 2021 campaign at Terra Linda. It looked a bit different, what with the Terra Linda parking lot serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site and all the players, coaches and umpires wearing masks or gaiters, but when it was time to play ball, the Giants set it all aside and rolled to 10-1 victory.

The Giants jumped out to the lead with three runs over the first two innings, the first on a Luca Bove bolt that hit halfway up the fence in right center to plate leadoff man Cole McGowan. McGowan singled in Rex Solle in the second.

Mikey Bender took the opening day start for the Giants. After striking out the side in the first, Bender ran into a bit of trouble in the second, but escaped by inducing a bases loaded 6-4-3 double play from the middle infield Charlies (Welch and Ginsburg) to end the inning.

After two consecutive hit TL batsmen with one out in the bottom of the third and the Giants up 3-1, Kent Goodman relieved Bender and worked out of the jam, again with a big assist from the defense. With runners on first and third and two out, TL attempted a double steal but Welch cut it front of the bag at second to take catcher Ethan Crawford’s throw and return it home to Crawford to nab the TL runner attempting to steal home.

From there the Giants piled up the runs with three more in the fourth and another four in the sixth for the 10-1 victory. McGowan led the offense across the board with two hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Tyler Blair took the last two innings and did so in style, striking out five of six batters faced.


3/26: One of the many ways that this 2021 season will differ from seasons past is that as a COVID protocol, MCAL teams will face each other in two or three game series in the same week. So after their season-opening win at Terra Linda on Tuesday, the Trojans were back to face the Giants in their home opener at Moody Field on Friday.

Sam Rice got the call on the mound for the Giants and dominated, striking out twelve over five and two-thirds innings of no-hit ball. He did it for three innings with a fastball and a changeup, as he didn’t have good feel with his breaking ball early. About halfway through his start he found the curve, and after that it was lights out for TL and the Giants cruised to a 13-0 win.

The Giants struck for three in the bottom of the first on a lot of loud contact. Cole McGowan got it started with a long triple to right, and after a walk to Charlie Welch, Luca Bove banged one up the gap in left center to plate McGowan and Welch. Ben Cohen then singled sharply to left to score Bove and complete the scoring for the inning.

The Giants again added on late, scoring six runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth. Bove led the charge with three hits, four RBIs and two runs scored, and was a homer short of hitting for the cycle. Charlie Ginsburg added two hits and three RBIs, and Cohen had two hits and two RBIs.

Kent Goodman closed it out on the mound, striking out three over the final one and one-third innings.


Next week the Giants will take on the San Rafael Bulldogs – Tuesday at San Rafael and Thursday at Moody (both games 4:30pm).

Redwood JV Stands Tall in Home Opener

3/23:  After more than one year of MCAL competition, the Redwood Junior Varsity Giants opened the season at home with a commanding 19-2 victory over San Marin today at Endriss Field.  The season opener that could be considered unusual to players as they, coaches and umpires wore masks, was equally unusual to fans as they socially distanced while following ‘COVID Protocols’ in the stands.

Despite the abnormality of the ‘New Normal’, the Giants represented Redwood Baseball between the lines from the jump as starting pitcher Max Funk needed only ten pitches in the first inning to send the game to the bottom of the first.  Merritt Brinckerhoff took one for the team for a hit by pitcher to start the Giants offense.  After stealing second, Merritt would score on a grounder hit by Nick Scott that the third baseman airmailed over the first baseman’s head.  Rory Minty sent Scott to third on a grounder to the right side and Ben Resnick tallied his first RBI of the season on a deep fly to center, putting the Giants up 2-0 after one inning.

Funk was again effective in the second and third, putting up a zeros for San Marin.  In the bottom of the third after a few errors and a single by Danil Wells to load the bases, pinch runner Ezekial Stone scored on a walk to Jasper Nadel to put the Giants up 3-0.  With the bases loaded, Bodhi Bartle sent a 1-2 pitch deep over the centerfield wall for a grand slam, creating a commanding 7-0 lead for the Giants after three innings of play.

The Giants would continue their onslaught, tallying thirteen hits with only one error in the field while striking out only four times at the plate.  San Marin helped the Giants efforts with seven errors in the field.  Offensively, Nick Scott added a homer, Funk helped his own cause with a double, Minty had a double and a triple, and Sam Sumski ripped a double as well.  Brinckerhoff, Resnick, Wyatt Turkington, and Harrison Lapic also had singles, and Wells had two hits on the day.  Bartle was the RBI leader with four, and Resnsick and Scott scored three times each for the Giants.

Funk earned the win, pitching five complete innings, walking one and giving up one run.  Jasper Nadel pitched the last two innings, giving up one run while striking out two and walking none.

The Giants are on the road on Friday at San Marin at 4:30.


Congratulations to the Varsity and JV players for the Spring 2021 Season. Please stay tuned to this website for news about the season and follow the teams on Gamechanger!

VARSITY TEAM                                      JV TEAM
Michael Bender                                          Bodhi Bartles
Tyler Blair                                                  Jonathan Bayler
Luca Bove                                                Merritt Brinckerhoff
Ben Cohen                                                  Jack Corvi
Ethan Crawford                                          Rory Coughlin
Colin Cunneen                                            Max Funk
Nick Gehrman                                            Jordan Kimball
Charlie Ginsburg                                        Harrison Lapic
Kent Goodman                                          Tony Metaxas
Myles Kawashima                                     Rory Minty
Josh Marrero                                             Jasper Nadel
Cole McGowan                                         Dominic Orlando
Sam McIntosh                                           Ben Resnick
Sam Rice                                                   Nick Scott
Rex Solle                                                  Gavin Soper
Grant Stoll                                                Brian Sternberger
Charlie Welch                                            Ezekiel Stone
Connor Yang                                              Sam Sumski
                                                                  Wyatt Turkington
                                                                  Danil Wells
                                                                  Wesley Wilhborg
                                                                  Ryan Wilson





Varsity Rolls Terra Linda in MCAL Opener

3/10: Senior ace Nick Welch got it done on the mound and at the plate in Redwood’s MCAL opener, leading the Giants to a 9-0 victory over Terra Linda. Welch breezed through five innings, striking out nine Trojans while yielding only two hits and no walks. Welch pounded the zone all day, throwing 48 strikes in his 62 pitches on the afternoon. In his spare time on offense, Welch also banged out three line drive singles.

The Giants got on the board in the bottom of the first when Ben Cohen reached on a two-out error from the Trojans. After a Cohen steal of second and a subsequent walk to Alex Hagen, Welch delivered his first base hit to score Cohen.

The game stayed 1-0 through three innings, but the Giants broke things open in the bottom of the fourth. Welch led off the inning by reaching on a Trojan misplay. Cole McGowan, pinch-running for Welch, then stole second. Charlie Ginsburg sought to advance McGowan to third and wound up getting a base hit out of it when his bunt down the third base line hugged the chalk and came to rest in fair territory. After a Ginsburg steal of second, Sam Rice drove McGowan and Ginsburg home with a bloop single to left. Rice then stole second and advanced to third when Charlie Welch reached on another Trojan error, with Welch taking second on the errant throw.

Jackson Reed made it hurt with a sharp line drive to center to score Rice and Welch. After Reed was caught attempting to steal second, Lucas Roy and Cohen drew consecutive two out walks and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Hagen then closed out the scoring by grounding a single up the middle to score Roy and Cohen. After four innings, the Giants were up 7-0.

The Giants added on in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs scored by Drake Goodman and Isaak Irmini-Kreft driven in by Reed and Roy.

Jesse Gassman relieved Welch and cruised through his two innings, striking out a pair of Trojans along the way – final score 9-0 Giants.

The Giants’ statistical leaders at the plate were Nick Welch (three hits), Reed (three RBIs) and Cohen (two runs scored).

The Giants are back at it this Friday versus San Rafael. First pitch 4:30 pm at Moody Field.

Redwood JV Ends Preseason Undefeated

3/03/20:  Vintage and Redwood were both undefeated coming into this game and Redwood ran away with a 5-1 victory.Miles Kawashima was amazing on the mound, pitching a complete game, striking out three while only allowing four hits and a run.

Miles Kawashima shut down the Crushers

He was backed up by his fielders who made some great plays, the most outstanding being Brian Sternberger laying out to knock down a grounder and throwing the hitter out at first.  Colin Cuneen made some great picks at first and Nick Scott and Tyler Blair made all the plays in the outfield.  While Will Davis, Dylan Jensen, Brian Sternberger, and Colin Cuneen kept the infield tight, Connor Yang was behind the plate and didn’t allow a single stolen base.

The offense was very strong led by Will Davis who went 3-3 and Zack Johnson who went 2-3 scoring twice with 1 RBI.  Connor Yang smoked a double near the left field wall in the first to score Zack Johnson who got on base with a single and moved on to second with a sac fly by Nick Scott.  Redwood took the lead in the second by scoring four runs.

Brian Sternberger headed to third

It started when Brian Sternberger crushed a triple to left field and scored Colin Cuneen and Josh Morerro who was pinch running for Will Davis.  Then Zack Johnson singled to score Brian Sternberger, and Nick Scott doubled to score Zack Johnson.  Overall, Redwood tallied ten hits and five runs with 3 stolen bases by Dillon Jensen, Josh Marerro and Zack Johnson.

They head into the MCAL season undefeated and plan to continue the streak as they head out on the road against San Rafael on Friday, March 13.

Redwood Junior Varsity Defeats Rancho Cotate

3/03/20:  Redwood JV pulled away from Rancho Cotate in the third inning and won by a score of 4-1 on the road today at Rancho Cotate. 

Zack Johnson had a big day at the plate

Zach Johnson led the Giants at the plate, going 2-4 while scoring two runs, and stealing two bases. Connor Yang picked up the first RBI with a sacrifice fly to score Zach in the first inning.  Tyler Blair scored Zach in the third inning and again in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Will Davis.  Connor Yang scored the Giants final run on an error by the catcher.  Redwood stole three bases on day with Dillon Jensen, Tyler Blair and Connor Yang recording the thefts.


The pitching was solid behind Aidan Gossett who started for the Giants and pitched five innings, struck out five, yielding just one hit and a run.

Aiden Gossett recorded the win

Grant Stoll again closed out the game strong striking out one while giving up no runs.

Junior Varsity Complete Petaluma Sweep

2/29/20:  After defeating Petaluma on Wednesday, the JV defeated the other JV team in Petaluma, with a 6-1 victory today at Moody Field.  Casa Grande took an early lead in the second inning, scoring one run but Redwood put two on the board in the third and scored four runs in the fourth to get their third straight win of the season. 

Brian Sternberger started the third with a double, and Colin Cuneen doubled him home.  Then Connor Yang singled to left and scored Colin.Connor picked up his second RBI in the fifth inning when he crushed a double to left field and scored Tyler Blair from first.  Dillon Jenson hit a grounder and Connor scored. Nick Scott hit a single.  Will Davis doubled with two outs and scored Dillon and   Nick Scott made it to third.  Then Brian Sternberger lined one to left and Nick Scott scored.  Connor Yang and Brian Sternberger each ended the day with multiple hits and Brian Sternberger going 3 – 3.

Tyler Blair closed it our for the JV


The defense was strong with no errors in the field.  Nick Gehrman pitched the first 4 innings and was relieved by Tyler Blair.  Together they had 7 strikeouts and only gave up 1 run.

Redwood JV Defeat Petaluma

2/26/20:  Redwood Giants JV snagged a late lead and defeated Petaluma JV 7 – 4 on Wednesday.  The game was tied at three when Nick Gehrman doubled on a 1-1 count, scoring one run.  Myles Kawashima led the Giants to victory on the hill.  He allowed six hits and just three runs over five innings, striking out four and walking none.

Grant Stoll fires a strike


Grant Stoll threw the final two innings giving up one run, walking two,  but allowing no hits to close the game.






Tyler Blair and Connor Yang lead the team in hits with three each.

Junior Varsity Open Pre-Season with a Win

2/25/20:  The JV opened the season with a mercy-rule victory over Montgomery at their first away game today.  Redwood broke the game open in the first inning scoring nine runs.  Johnson, Blaor, Jensen and Davis all singled in the first.  Nick Gehrman opened the second inning with a triple and James Givas hit him home with a sacrifice fly.  Tyler Blair doubled in the 5th to score Colin and Zack, then Will hit a sac fly to score Tyler.Tyler tallied five RBIs for the game, followed by Will Davis with three and Josh Marrero with two.

Nick Gehrman started on the mound and was relieved by Aiden Gosset and Will Davis. Together they struck out five, gave up three hits and three runs.

The fielding highlight was a double play that ended the game by Bodhi at third, James at second and Colin at first.

Varsity Can’t Recover After Falling Behind Vintage

3/5: The Giants got extra-base hits from Matt Birchenough, Ben Cohen and Charlie Ginsburg, but couldn’t quite get over the hump today in Napa, and fell to the strong-swinging Vintage Crushers, 7-4.

Redwood failed to get on the board through the first 3, despite a single from hard-hitting Alex Hagen and a triple from the red-hot Cohen.

Hard-throwing junior lefty Sam Rice got the start for the Giants and surrendered a couple of early runs on a walk, hit batter and timely double. Following a walk in the second, Matt Smalbach came in and got out of the inning with the help of an excellent double-play in which Charlie Welch tagged the runner after fielding a grounder and nipping the runner at first. But the Crushers got to Smalbach for 3 hits in the third inning, and Coach Firenzi called on Cohen to put out the fire with two strikeouts to end the rally. When the smoke cleared, the Crushers led 4-0 after 3.

But the Giants were undaunted and staged a strong comeback in the 4th. After singles from Nick Welch and Hagen and a fielder’s choice from Birchenough, Welch scored on a wild pitch with Birchenough advancing to second. Ginsburg then ripped a double down the left field line to score Birchenough and make it 4-2 going to the bottom of the 4th. But the Crushers responded with a run in their half, making it 5-2 heading to the fifth.

The Giants showed their mettle by bouncing back for runs in the fifth on a Cohen rbi single and in the sixth on a long, line drive homer to right by Birchenough, whose dad, Jim, was quoted as saying: “That’s his first one since Little League!”

Ahead only 5-4, the Crushers showed their own toughness in the sixth, again pushing their lead to three runs on a single, hit batsman, and a timely, 2-out, 2-run single to center. After Reed’s infield single to start the seventh, the Giants went down in order to end the game.

Despite the loss, the Giants had a successful 3-game North Bay road trip and are ready to start the defense of their MCAL crown next Tuesday at Moody Field against Terra Linda. First pitch at 4:30 p.m.

Varsity Survives Scare to Defeat Rancho Cotate

3/3:  In a see-saw contest in Rohnert Park, the varsity Giants started strong and pulled away late for an 11-4 victory over Rancho Cotate.

Nick Welch drew the starting assignment on the mound, and he was dominant, overpowering the Cougars over four innings of work.  Welch had full command of his fastball and breaking ball, striking out seven Cougars against a single walk and two hits.

The Giants struck first for four runs in the top of the second.  Alex Hagen led off with an opposite field single and Welch moved him to second with a ground ball single to left.  Matt Birchenough then singled to center to score Hagen, and Welch exhibited some heads up baserunning by advancing from second to an uncovered third base even though the ball had already been thrown back to the infield.  After a Birchenough steal of second, Matt Smalbach drove in Welch with a sac fly to center.  Isaak Irmini-Kreft followed with an RBI single to left to score Birchenough.  After a Jackson Reed single to right, Lucas Roy completed the inning’s scoring with a single up the middle to plate Irmini-Kreft.

Redwood added a run in the top of the third when Smalbach worked a bases loaded walk to drive in the fifth run of the day for the Giants, and with Welch on cruise control, the game looked to be well in hand for the Giants.  But Welch departed after four innings, and with the help of some free passes from the Giants’ relievers and some suboptimal defense, Rancho fought back in the bottom of the fifth.

Rancho had tallied four runs to cut the Giants’ lead to 5-4 and had the bases loaded with one out when coach Mike Firenzi called on Jesse Gassman to restore order.  Making his season debut on the mound after recovering from a finger injury, Gassman looked in midseason form, striking out the next two Rancho hitters, including a gutsy comeback from a 3-0 count for a called strike three to end the inning.

The Giants then put the game out of reach in the top of the sixth with a six-run inning highlighted by a suicide squeeze bunt by Jesse Gassman, a two-RBI single by Birchenough, RBI singles from Jake Gassman and Reed and a bases loaded walk by Roy.

Reed, Hagen, Welch, Birchenough, Jake Gassman and Irmini-Kreft each had two hits on the day, and Birchenough led the Giants in RBIs with three.  Giants pitchers racked up eleven strikeouts against only three walks.

The Giants wrap up a busy week in the North Bay with a 3:30 pm contest at Vintage High School in Napa on Thursday, March 5.

Varsity Relies Again on Dominant Pitching to Defeat Casa Grande

3/2: On a sunny afternoon in Petaluma, the Giants cobbled together enough runs to support an excellent outing from senior starter, Lucas Roy, to defeat Casa Grande, 4-1.

Roy was superb all afternoon, keeping the Gauchos off balance by changing speeds and moving the ball at will around the plate.  He ultimately completed 6 innings, scattering 5 hits and but a single walk to record the win.  Matt Smalbach picked up the save with a strong showing in the 7th, showcasing a plus-curveball.

Casa drew first blood, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a single, followed by a fielder’s choice and another single.  But the Giants answered with a run of their own in the fourth on singles by Ben Cohen and Alex Hagen, a double-steal, and a sacrifice fly from Luca Bove.  With strong pitching from both sides, the scored remained tied 1-1, going to the 7th.  Then things got interesting.

Pinch-hitter Matt Birchenough led off the Giants’ half of the 7th with a hard line drive single to left. Charlie Welch then attempted what was meant to be a sacrifice bunt, but the Gauchos neglected to account for Birchenough’s speed and failed to get the force at second, leaving Giants at first and second with nobody out.  Jackson Reed next laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners.  Roy then put further pressure on the home team by laying down yet another perfect bunt, which went for a single with Birchenough scoring and Welch advancing to third.  Roy followed by stealing second with Welch scoring on an error by the Gauchos catcher.  After a Cohen groundout advanced Roy to third, Hagen walked and Roy scored on a hard grounder by Nick Welch which handcuffed the Casa Grande third baseman. By the time the half inning was over, the Giants had scored 3 times and led 4-1, even though they hit only one ball out of the infield.

Smalbach then came in to shut the door in the bottom of the 7th, and the Giants had to feel fortunate to escape with a win against a good Gauchos squad.  If the historians can be trusted, this was Mike Firenzi’s first defeat of Casa Grande in his time at Redwood.

Roy finished with 2 hits, with 1 each for Reed, Cohen, Nick Welch, Birchenough and Hagen, who added 2 walks.  And the Giants pitchers threw from favorable counts all day, starting 74% of the Gauchos hitters with strikes and ultimately throwing almost 70% total strikes on the day.

The rest of the week doesn’t get any easier with the Giants traveling for games at Rancho Cotate tomorrow and Vintage in Napa on Thursday.



Varsity Edged Out in Tense Pitchers’ Duel at Petaluma

2/26:  On a warm winter afternoon, the Redwood Giants wasted a dominant pitching performance by senior ace Nick Welch in falling 2-1 to the Petaluma Trojans.

Welch struggled a bit with command in the first, but then – aided by good outfield play from Drake Goodman and Lucas Roy – set to work in shutting down a hard-swinging group from Petaluma.  Mixing a live fastball and sharp curve, Welch worked 5 complete, allowing only a single hit and one walk, and no earned runs.  But Welch was matched inning for inning and more by the Petaluma junior hurler, 6’5” Julian Garrahan.  Garrahan was top notch throughout – allowing only 4 hits and issuing no free passes in his 7-inning complete game win.

Through their first 5 turns at the plate, the Giants had only a Charlie Welch single to right to show for their efforts.  Then, with 2 already gone in the 6th, Jackson Reed legged out a hustle-single to the second baseman.  Lucas Roy followed with a line drive single to center.  And Ben Cohen made it pay, scoring Reed on a hard single to right.  The Giants led 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth.

But the next half inning would prove the Giants’ undoing.  After an error, a stolen base, and another Giants’ miscue, Petaluma had it knotted at 1-1.  Senior lefty Matt Birchenough then took the ball from Welch and struck out the first batter he faced.  But a walk and single would allow Petaluma to squeeze another run home and take a 2-1 lead into the top of the 7th.  Remarkably, for only the 2nd game of the season, the Petaluma starter returned to the hill and set the Giants down 1, 2, 3 to seal the victory for the home team.

Next week should prove exciting and challenging for the Giants as they travel to Casa Grande (3/2), Rancho Cotate (3/3) and Vintage (3/5).