5/27: The Giants had their season come to abrupt close with a loss in the quarterfinal game of the NCS Championship Series against the Livermore Cowboys, the same team that Redwood beat a year earlier in 11 innings for the NCS Championship.
Zach Kopstein held the potent Cowboys line-up scoreless in the first, but the Cowboys scored two runs on four hits in the top of the second. “They came out swinging, they didn’t take any at-bats for granted-that’s for sure”, Assistant Coach Joel Russo said after the game. The Cowboys went up 3-0 in the top of the third after the Giants committed a rare two-out error that was followed by a Livermore single, sending the runner home for an unearned run.
Redwood waited until the bottom of the fourth to get on the board. Zack Cohen led off the inning with a drag bunt single and the speedy Genki LeClair took his spot on the bases as a pinch runner. Henry Zeisler followed with a single and Zach Kopstein helped his own cause with a single to left, scoring LeClair. The heads-up future MIT graduate Kopstein, advanced to second on the throw home, putting the tying run on second. The injured Aubrey Sine came in to pinch hit and launched a deep sacrifice fly, scoring Zeisler from third, advancing Kopstein from second. Nic Gillies dropped a safety squeeze bunt, resulting in a single for Gillies but Kopstein couldn’t score from third. With runners on first and third and only one out, the Giants seemed poised to tie the score or take the lead. Instead they ended the inning down a run (3-2) after a strike-out and ground-out ended the Giants threat.
Kopstein and the Giants defense held strong until the top of the sixth, when with the score still 3-2, the Cowboys scored four runs in the frame. Zach Cohen came in to shut down the inning after Kopstien’s 104th pitch resulted in a single to center. Cohen gave up a run, on a sacrifice fly and the Giants entered the bottom of the inning with their back against the wall, down 7-2 with just six outs left.
Redwood went down in the bottom of the sixth, leaving Nic Gillies on base, saddling the Giants with the tall task of holding the Cowboys scoreless to give the Giants an outside shot of scoring five runs to extend the game. Instead, the Cowboys unleashed twelve months of frustration by scoring eight runs in an inning that seemed like it would never end, an inning that can best be described by the photo below, taking the Giants into the bottom of the seventh down 15-2.
Firenzi opted to pay homage to his seniors in the bottom of the inning. Senior Trevor Ryan barreled a 1-2 fastball and roped a hard liner to center for the first out of the inning. Senior Garret Aubert followed with a hard grounder in the hole at short, but the Cowboys shortstop made a play deep in the hole, stealing a hit from Aubert. Senior Erik Doctor singled to right and Senior J.D. Mancini closed out his Redwood baseball career in stylish fashion with a single to right. The threat ended on a ground ball to short, igniting a Livermore celebration on Moody Field and ending the Giants season. The loss will stand as the largest margin (thirteen runs) in Firenzi’s two-year career as Head Coach of the Giants.
“It’s not the way you want to end the season (the Giants lost three of their last four games) but I told the boys they have nothing to be ashamed of and to hold their heads high”, Firenzi said after the game. “Any season that you can win twenty games is a good one, I’m proud of them.” Firenzi will sit on 400 wins going into the 2017 season. Odds-makers in Vegas are saying that Firenzi will post his 500th win in 2021, based on the talent coming up in the program.