The Redwood JV Baseball Giants returned home Wednesday for the rubber match of a two-game series against the Cardinal Newman Cardinals of Santa Rosa. Having lost the first game 5-2 with many fresh faces in the lineup, the Giants returned most of their starters to the field – unfortunately with a similar result – falling 7-2.
The Cardinals got on the scoreboard right away. In the top of the first, starting pitcher Cole Engstrom plunked Cardinal center fielder Tanner Bradley, who promptly stole second, advancing to third on a passed ball. Shortstop Carson Meyer knocked him in with a single to right, making it 1-0.
After Cardinal pitcher Jacob Morena flared a single just inside the right field line, Engstrom hit third baseman Anthony Gonzalez to load the bases. When Engstrom hit his third batter of the inning (first baseman Mason Farrell) forcing in a run with just one out, fans were checking the skies for locusts or other signs of the apocalypse. But just like that, Cardinal left fielder Isaac Phelps lined a drive to second baseman Max Paul’s glove side. Paul made the play and quickly doubled up Farrell at first, pulling Engstrom and the Giants out of the inning.
Center fielder Jack Corvi started things off for the Giants with a bang, rapping a standup double into the gap in left center, then taking third on a grounder to Meyer by third baseman Quinn Miller. With the infield in, Corvi made a break for home on a grounder to second baseman Aiden Wedge, but Wedge gunned him down to keep the Giants off the board.
The Cardinals struck again in the top of the second, as Wedge led off by slapping a single over Miller’s head. Wedge then took off running as Cardinal right fielder Jack Pezzollo laid down a textbook bunt to the third base side. Miller raced in to make the play at first, vacating third, which became Wedge’s next target on the basepaths.
Giants’ catcher Ryan Ip hustled up the line to cover third, but first baseman Jordan Kimball threw the ball past him. Left fielder Gavin Soper’s backup throw from the fence in foul ground was not in time at the plate, scoring Wedge and making it 3-0.
After another walk and stolen base put runners on second and third with one out, Engstrom settled down, making Meyer look silly on a wicked curveball. Shortstop Sam Sumski then picked a Morena line drive up off of his shoetops for out number three.
The Giants broke through in their half of the second, as Paul hit a bomb over the head of Phelps, who kicked it around, letting Paul roll into third with no outs. Paul scored when Sumski floated a single into left field, dropping the ball just in front of Phelps. Sumski and the Giants were robbed, however, when Kimball’s sharp grounder to third was snagged by Gonzalez, who threw wide to Wedge at second. Despite Wedge being at least a foot off the base when handling the throw, the ump called Sumski out, stalling the Giants’ momentum, and holding the score 3-1.
After a welcome 1-2-3 inning by Engstrom, the Giants added another run in the third when Miller’s sharp grounder sizzled under Gonzalez’s glove and off his foot, scoring Corvi and making it 3-2.
In the top of the fourth, Engstrom got two quick outs, but then walked Pezzollo and Bradley, bringing Meyer up to the plate. Meyer bashed a ball through the gap in left center, all the way to the fence, scoring two and making it 5-2. But when the dust settled and Meyer stood on second, Engstrom raised some eyebrows by tossing the ball from the mound over to Miller at third. To the surprise of many in attendance, the ump raised his right fist for out number three. Apparently, Bradley had never touched third base while racing around to score, and the sharp-eyed Giants’ challenge was upheld, stripping a run off the board, and keeping the game within reach at 4-2.
The bottom of the fifth was highlighted by the Ryan Ip fan club, a merry handful of student spectators who celebrated Ip’s every move of the day. When Ip blooped a ball just between Moreno and Wedge, and Wedge skipped the ball past Farrell, allowing Ip to race to second, the fan club went wild, only briefly lowering their enthusiasm when Ip was almost immediately picked off.
Sumski came in to pitch for the Giants in the sixth inning, quickly walking his first two batters. Things looked up when Pezzollo lined into an instant replay of Max Paul’s double play in the first, with Paul turning it equally proficiently the second time around. However, Bradley didn’t get the memo, lifting a monster shot to dead center, all the way over the fence and onto the Redwood track. Corvi could only turn and watch as the ball came to rest near the soccer goal, sending the Cardinals up 6-2.
Redwood fought back in their half of the sixth, hitting the ball hard, and putting runners on first and second, but the Cardinals always seemed to make a play to keep the Giants from scoring. The Ip Fan Club held their collective breath as their hero skied a popup to the right side. Farrell staggered around, trying to keep a bead on it, and at the last second, lurched and threw out his glove to make the play, retiring the side.
The Cardinals proceeded to tack on another run in the seventh, sweeping the season series, and bringing the Giants to 11-6 on the year (7-1 MCAL). The streaky Giants, now dropping three of four following a seven-game win streak, will come back tomorrow to host the Albany Cougars in another non-league contest.