April 19. Going into Spring Break, this author expressed hope that the JV squad would use its chance for rest and relaxation to stop unnecessarily increasing the blood pressure of its fans with extra-inning/close games. The bad news – nope, that didn’t happen; the good news – they won a close, extra-inning conference game again Justin Siena in Napa on Tuesday night.
Although Redwood uncharacteristically allowed 11 hits and committed a couple of errors, they did employ a “bend don’t break” defense that held Justin Siena to a total of 3 runs in 9 innings. On the season, the team boasts a 1.38 ERA, having allowed more than 3 runs in a game just twice.
Redwood’s leadoff hitter, Dane Goodman, started things off with a triple on the first pitch he saw in the top of the first inning, taking home when the Justin Sienna right fielder missed his cut-off man. Giants starting pitcher Blake Cusick, as he has all season, kept the JS hitters guessing with a baffling mix of off-speed pitches and well-located fastballs. Cusick whiffed 3 Braves in the first 2 innings, assisted by a nice inning-ending double play (turned by Josh Katz and Michael Connors) in the second. Unfortunately, JS plated two unearned runs in the third inning and loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Cusick was able to limit the damage, holding JS to just one more run after he induced two weak ground balls that were turned into force outs to catcher Luke Zlatunich and struck out his 5th batter of the game to end the threat.
Down 3-1, the Giants went into rally mode. In the top of the sixth, Oliver Pearson singled to center and Mackie Skall followed that by drawing a walk. Riley Marsh ran for Skall and Coach Epidendio signaled for a double steal, which the Giants executed perfectly, placing runners on second and third with only one out. The decision to advance the runners paid immediate dividends, as a wild pitch allowed Pearson to score and Marsh to advance to third. After Sean McKenna walked, Michael Connors hit what looked like a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play ball. But the feisty Connors hustled down the line to beat out the throw to first, allowing Marsh to score and tie the game!
Tyler Warren came on in relief in the bottom of the sixth and pounded the strike zone early and often, retiring the Braves in order and sending the game to extra innings.
There was no further scoring until the top of the ninth, when Josh Katz led off with a single. Dane Goodman then hit a hard ground ball that the Brave’s third baseman could not handle. With Drew Jacks at the plate, both runners advanced on a wild pitch, at which point the
Braves intentionally walked Jacks to load the bases. Oliver Pearson then smashed a 4-foot single (which is only fair, given how many times Pearson has hit the ball hard this year to no avail) that rolled up the third base line just far enough for Josh Katz to sprint home and avoid the sweep tag by the catcher. James Thompson then smacked a fly ball to centerfield, easily scoring the speedy Goodman with a nice insurance run. Warren had little trouble locking down the victory. After a lead off-walk in the home half of the ninth, he retired the side on a soft grounder, a strikeout and a fly ball to right that Jacks squeezed to clinch the 5-3 victory.
Game notes include Blake Cusick’s one earned run and 5 K’s in 5 innings and Tyler Warren picking up his first win of the season, pitching 4 innings of shut-out relief. Goodman, Pearson and Katz led Redwood with 2 hits each and scored 4 of the 5 Redwood runs.
The Redwood JV Giants remain atop the MCAL standings with a 7-1 league record (10-3 overall). But there are some very big rivalry games coming up. With just three weeks to go, every game counts, so come on out and root, root, root for the Giants! Next game is Thursday, April 21 at Drake, followed by San Rafael on Friday, April 22 at Moody.