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.