“Now, THAT was fun,” said JV coach Rich Epidendio as he watched his team in a celebratory group huddle, enjoying their 8th inning 3-2 victory over Drake. Before then, the crowd was treated to an amazing pitchers’ duel through 7 innings. Redwood starter Oliver Pearson was masterful, baffling the Drake batters over 6 innings of shut out, two hit, and 6-strikeout baseball. The Drake starter made it an equally tough go for the Redwood line-up, allowing just 2 hits – by Luke Zlatunich and Josh Katz. Redwood defense ably backed up Pearson, with Mackie Skall and Michael Connors turning an attempted steal into an out in the 4th, and Dane Goodman running to deny a hit in centerfield in the 5th and making a grass-kissing catch in the 6th.
Blake Cusick came into pitch for Redwood in the 7th and struck out the side on 16 pitches to send it into the bottom of the 7th. Redwood threatened in the bottom of 7 as Drew Jacks reached on an error and Sean McKenna singled, but could not push a run across as Luke Zlatunich’s blast to left was tracked down for the final out, sending the game into extra innings.
Drake scraped together two runs in the top of the 8th, with a single, a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly, and the Giants found themselves with the backs to the wall, down to their final three outs. It might have been worse for our heroes, if not for Drew Jacks impressive chase down of a deep fly to right field.
But the Redwood team knew their afternoon was not over. This team has fight galore. Riley Marsh led off the bottom of the 8th with a walk. After one out, Noah Arrick took an 0-2 count and turned it into a 10 pitch at-bat walk, sending Riley to second base. Coach Rich Epidendio sent Nic Paoli-Khadjenouri in to pinch hit and Nic delivered, smashing a one-out double, scoring Marsh to make it 2-1 with runners on second and third.
Drake wanted nothing to do with clean-up hitter Dane Goodman, and intentionally walked him to load the bases. Now it fell onto the shoulders of Drew Jacks. Drew dug in with determination. He read fastball and got it, drilling the first pitch into the left center gap, scoring Arrick and PK for the walk off, as the Redwood bench poured onto the field and mobbed Jacks.
Blake Cusick got the victory in relief, pitching two innings, with 4K’s. This was a blueprint game, where you learn to battle inning after inning, seemingly not getting any breaks, but you hang in there until you get the chance to make your own breaks.
Redwood JV’s next take their grit on the road to play Friday 3/18 against San Rafael at San Rafael High School, at 4:30.