5/18: The Varsity Giants concluded the regular season in what is now becoming ‘Regular Fashion’ as MCAL Champions. For the third time in the last four years, Redwood was awarded the MCAL Championship Banner which will be hoisted in the gym and displayed proudly among the other twenty-five baseball championship banners.
After working through a rough patch this season where the Giants lost three straight games and dropped in the standings from a tie for first place to squeaking into the playoffs as the fifth seed, the Giants needed to win three games in four days to be MCAL Co-Champions and earn the automatic NCS bid.
Redwood started the week on the road on Tuesday and defeated San Marin on a cold, windy, typical spring day in Northern Novato. After pitching four strong innings, Robbie Wilson was relieved by Senior Oliver Pearson who would earn the win as the pitcher of record in the top of the seventh when Jackson Barry broke a 2-2 deadlock by dropping a perfect suicide squeeze scoring Josh Cohen from third for the winning run. Nick Welch earned the save by pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Dane Goodman, Josh Cohen, Jack Morken, Luke Zlatunich, Drew Jacks, Genki LeClair all had hits for the Giants and Mackie Skall banged out two hits. Goodman, Morken and Barry were responsible for knocking in the Giants runs that were scored by Cohen, Zlatunich and Jacks.
The Giants faced off against Tamalpais on Thursday night under the lights at Albert Park. Redwood split their games with Tam during the regular season and would have to beat their ace, Jack Loder, to get to the Championship game. Sophomore Nick Welch would get the call on the mound and he answered the call by pithing an absolute gem, yielding no hits in five and a third innings of work. After Welch walked the three batters to load the bases in the sixth, Head Coach Mike Firenzi made the tough call of pulling him for Oliver Pearson. “I think it’s the first time I’ve ever pulled a pitcher out of a no-hitter, but his pitch count was getting up there and I didn’t want to push the pitch count limit…he exceeded my expectations.” Firenzi said after the game. Welch was greeted by a standing ovation as he left the field by the Redwood faithful and even a few Tamalpais fans with the Giants up 4-0. With the bases juiced, Pearson would give up a single that was turned into a double after a bobble in left, and after the dust settled, three Tam runners had crossed the plate. Pearson would lock down the inning by inducing a line-out to Josh Cohen and a strike out to end the inning and would end the game by striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
Dane Goodman, Josh Cohen, Mackie Skall, Jackson Barry, Luke Zlatunich and Genki LeClair all had hits for the Giants with Drew Jacks adding two. Barry, and LeClair had RBI’s and Goodman, Cohen, Jacks and Zlatunich were responsible for scoring the Giants runs.
The Giants ‘Cinderella Story’ would be concluded tonight as the Giants would face off against the Drake Pirates who mowed through the NCS DIII Championships last year and mowed through the MCAL season this year, taking the Round-Robin MCAL Championship with a record of 15-3. Drake made sure to pitch their ace, Ryan McLaughlin, just three innings in the semi-final game against Branson so that he would be able to pitch seven innings in the championship tonight. This is a lock-tight strategy if the game goes seven innings. McLaughlin, a sure bet to win Pitcher of the Year honors, dominated the league this year with a 1.04 ERA in a whopping seventy-four innings pitched and earned nine of the Pirates league wins. As fate would have it, Redwood was able to take the game into extra innings and test Drake’s bullpen by scoring a run in the top of the sixth after Dane Goodman led off the inning with a hot smash to the third baseman that was too hot to handle. Josh Cohen sent Goodman to second on a sacrifice bunt. Goodman was cut off at the plate after Mackie Skall ripped a ball to left and a perfect strike to the catcher left the Giants with two outs and Jack Morken holding the fate of the Giants in his hands. Morken answered, lacing a seed to the left-center gap, plating Skall and tying the game 1-1 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Robbie Wilson pitched three strong innings for the Giants and handed the ball to Oliver Pearson. Pearson gave up a run but sent the Pirates down in order in the bottom of the sixth by striking out the side. Luke Zlatunich singled with an out in the top of the seventh, but was erased on a 6-4-3 double play to take the game to the bottom of the seventh. Pearson struck out the lead off batter and then would rely on his defense for the next two outs. Pascal Brassey made a great play on a shot to short for the second out and the inning ended on a hot smash to third, similar to the shot Goodman hit in the top of the sixth, but Jackson Barry short hopped it and tossed to first to end the inning.
Drake would now have to go to the bullpen in the top of the eighth because McLaughlin pitched his tenth inning of the week and the Giants capitalized. Dane Goodman led off the inning with a walk. Josh Cohen followed with a walk and Mackie Skall drove a 1-1 fastball to center scoring Goodman, putting the Giants up 2-1. Jack Morken hit a high-hopper over the first baseman’s head, scoring Cohen. Jackson Barry then tallied his third hit of the day, scoring Skall, putting the Giants up 4-1.
Pearson gave up a lead off single in the bottom of the eight, but the boisterous Drake crowd was silenced when Dane Goodman tracked down a bomb to the right-center gap that looked like a sure triple off of the bat. Pearson struck out the final two batters he faced, securing the MCAL Pennant for the Giants, ending the week with two wins and a save.
The Giants future now rests in the hands of the NCS Seeding Committee with hopes of securing a first round home game next week. The question that soon will be answered is, will this Cinderella take home only the MCAL Banner or will they take home another NCS title?
3/8: The Varsity Giants defeated perennial powerhouse Monte Vista for the second year in a row today on the road in Danville. The Giants were not intimidated by the Mustangs starting pitcher, the imposing 6’7″ senior Jackson Ertz, who weighs in at over 200 pounds and boasts a plus fastball.
Oliver Pearson would notch his second win in his career against the Mustangs who lost in the D1 Championship game vs. De La Salle last year. Pearson was magical on the mound, yielding one unearned run on three hits while striking out six and walking just one in six and two-thirds innings of work. Jackson Bender was called out of the pen and struck out the only batter he faced, securing the win for Redwood.
Redwood scored in the top of the third after a one out single by Josh Cohen was followed by a single to center by Anthony Pomilia, advancing Cohen to third. Pascal Brassey knocked Cohen home with a single to left taking the Giants to the bottom of the frame up 1-0. Monte Vista answered after a hit batter advanced to second on a passed ball was followed by a two-out single to first that plated the runner from second, taking the game to the fourth inning with the score tied, 1-1.
The Giants offense broke the tie in the top of the sixth when Pascal Brassey led off the inning with a shot up the middle. Mackie Skall walked and after a strikeout, Luke Zlatunich doubled to center, scoring Brassey. Michael Connors dropped a perfect bunt for a single, scoring Skall, putting the Giants up 3-1. Dane Goodman knocked in Zlatunich on a hard grounder to short. After Goodman stole second, the inning would end with runners on second and third with the score 4-1 in favor of the Giants.
After Pearson made quick work of the Mustangs in the bottom of the sixth, Josh Cohen led off the top of the seventh with a double to left. Anthony Pomilia took one for the team and took first after being hit by a pitch. Pascal Brassey dropped a bunt that was thrown away, scoring Cohen and Pomilia, putting the Giants up 6-1. Jack Morken singled to left and after two outs, Michael Connors roped a clutch base hit to center, plating Brassey for Redwood’s seventh run of the game.
Pearson earned the win on the mound while being supporting by ten Giants hits and no errors in the field. Anthony Pomilia and Luke Zlatunich had hits while Pascal Brassey, Jack Morken, Michael Connors and Josh Cohen added two hits apiece. Connors knocked in two, Goodman, Brassey and Zlatunich knocked in one.
The Giants square off against James Logan on the road next.
Redwood bats erupted during the cold, windswept night under the lights at Bishop O’Dowd Monday night. First at bat, Anthony Pomilia set the mark with a solo dinger over the left field fence to put the Giants up 1-0.
In the bottom of the 1st, Blake Cusick took the bump for the Giants. Cusick masterfully demonstrated his 38 different arm slots as he mowed through the O’Dowd batters for the next five innings. A steady diet of curves, fastballs and spot placement stymied Bishop O’Dowd batters as Cusick painted the plate.
In support of their pitcher, the Giants piled on runs. Top of the second, timely RBI’s by Sam Warren and Pomilia capitalized on two hit by pitch mistakes putting the Giants up 4-0. In the top of the forth, backstop Mackie Skall asked for a helping of what Pomilia served by helping himself to the second solo dinger of the night. Giants up 5-0. A Jack Morken double and a Michael Connors single added another run in the 5th. Pascal Brassey and Connors combined to plate three more runs in top of the 6th.
Notibles from the night where solo home runs from A. Pomilia and M. Skall, plus J Morken was hit by what should be a record 3 pitches. What to take three for the team. Brassey and Pomilia each had three hits, Connors had two and Skall, Morken and Warren each had one.
2/27: There was no traditional bunting lining the fences, the sun shined bright but it was unusually frigid, and there were fireworks of a different kind as the Giants exploded for eleven runs while shutting out the Montgomery Vikings at their home opener at Moody Field.
Sophomore Nick Welch earned his first Varsity win, pitching four innings, scattering two hits and striking out three.
Senior Josh Cohen pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one and Senior Blake Cusick pitched the final two innings, giving up just one hit while striking out two.
The Giants pitching staff combined for a shut out, giving up three hits, walking one, while striking out seven. All told, only three Vikings players reached base. “They did a great job,” Head Coach Mike Firenzi said about Welch, Cohen, and Cusick, “I like our chances to win a game when we hold the other team to no runs. It was also great to see Welch get his first Varsity win.”
While the Giants pitching staff stood tall on the mound, at the plate they provided run support from the jump, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning. Anthony Pomilia started the rally by launching a double to left. Genki LeClair advanced Pomilia to third and reached first on a swinging strike three, setting the table for Mackie Skall. Skall drove in Pomilia on a single to left, putting the Giants up 1-0. Luke Zlatunich singled to left. After a strike out, Michael Connors singled to center, scoring LeClair and Skall. With one out, Dane Goodman blasted a triple to the center-field gap, plating Zlatunich, putting the Giants up 5-0. Dio Cornet sent Goodman home by hitting a hot smash to the shortstop that he couldn’t handle. After the dust settled, the Giants finished the frame leading the Vikings by a score of 6-0.
Michael Connors led off the bottom of the third with a single. Dane Goodman would send Connors home on his second extra base hit, a double to left and advanced to third when the relay throw was bobbled by the shortstop. Sam Warren drove in Goodman on a single to center, putting the Giants up 8-0. With two outs, Genkie LeClair singled to right, driving in Warren. Mackie Skall tripled to left scoring LeClair. Luke Zlatunich and Jack Morkin were both plunked by pitches, and after the two bean-balls loaded the bases, Michael Connors earned his third RBI the easy way, taking a bases loaded walk, plating Skall. The Giants went into the top of the fourth leading 11-0, which would be the final score of the game.
The Giants also played flawless defense, committing no errors in the field.
Jackson Barry, Sam Warren, Jack Morkin, Luke Zlatunich and Genki LeClair all had hits for the Giants with LeClair and Warren both knocking in runs. Anthony Pomilia, Michael Connors and Dane Goodman contributed two hits each with Connors and Goodman combining for six RBI’s, knocking in three runs apiece. Mackie Skall led all Giants hitters with three hits, knocking in two runs. “Everyone contributed today, we pitched well, we hit, we played defense. Tomorrow we will have a bit of a tougher test, but we are ready”, Firenzi said.
Redwood will face off against the Casa Grande Gauchos on Wednesday on the road at 3:30.
2/24: Redwood Baseball has been on the field since February 5th and wrapped up their practice schedule with a scrimmage against Riordan in the bitter cold on Saturday.
All three clubs walked away with wins, with the Freshman squad claiming the largest margin of victory in their respective un-scored, non-league, unofficial final tune-up shutting out Riordan 16-0. “I think we are going to see a lot of scores like that this year from our younger guys, both the Freshman and the Junior Varsity teams are going to be very good this year”, Head Coach Mike Firenzi said.
The Varsity Team will also be strong in 2018 with fifteen returning players and six new additions filling out their twenty-one man roster. Returning starting catcher Mackie Skall along with Juniors Jake Nordstrom and Sam Warren will drop the signs to a strong pitching staff. Seniors Oliver Pearson, Josh Cohen, Blake Cusick, Andreas Gleckman along with Juniors Kyle Felder, Robbie Wilson, Jackson Bender and Sophomore Nick Welch round out a very deep pitching core.
Returning players Michael Connors, Genki LeClair, Pascal Brassey, Jackson Barry, two-time All-MCAL Anthony Pomilia, and Dio Cornet (who transferred from the Dominican Republic to Redwood for his senior year), along with Wilson will represent the Giants in the infield. Returners Jack Morkin, Drew Jacks, and 2017 First Team All-MCAL Dane Goodman, along with Warren, Wilson and Cohen will patrol the expanses of the outfield.
When asked about how he felt about how the Varsity team played on Saturday and his outlook for the season Firenzi’s face lit up with excitement. “I think we gave up just one hit and threatened on offense just about every inning today. We played defense and only made a few mistakes. We are deep in all positions. We have all the pieces to the puzzle, we are still figuring out where everything fit…but we are close. As long as we stay healthy, we will compete this year.
The Varsity Giants open their pre-season campaign at Moody on Tuesday, 2/27 at 3:30. They will turn-around and face off against Casa Grande on Wednesday, 2/28 at 3:30 and round out the week with game against Bishop O’Dowd at Moody on Friday, 3/2 at 3:30. The Junior Varsity will face off against Casa Grande on Wednesday, 2/28 at 3:30 at Casa Grande and finish the week on the road against Bishop O’Dowd on Friday 3/2, at 3:30. The Freshman play Casa Grande at Endriss Field on Wednesday, 2/28 at 3:30 and close out the week at Endriss Field on Friday, 3/2 against Bishop O’Dowd at 3:30.
Come out and support your Redwood Giants!
5/23: After knocking the Giants out of the MCAL Championship, the Marin Catholic Wildcats completed the ‘One-Two Punch’ and knocked Redwood out of the NCS Baseball Championship with a 5-1 victory in Kentfield.
All-League Honorable Mention pitchers Jack Harris and Michael Benz squared off on the mound with Harris atoning for his early season loss against the Giants, earning the complete game victory while Benz took the loss for Redwood. Harris gave up just one run, scattering seven hits while striking out two. Benz was lifted in the second inning for sophomore Kyle Felder who gave up just one run in four and two-thirds innings of work.
Redwood threatened in the top of the first after Josh Cohen and Nicolas Belgum both singled to set the table for the heart of the order with one out. Cohen was erased at the plate on a grounder to third on a contact play and the inning ended on another ground out to third. “The same dog that’s bitten us for two months, bit us again today. We get runners on second base and we stop hitting, that’s been our problem for about two months. It’s not a lack of hits or a lack of baserunners, we just can’t drive guys in, and that happens sometimes.” Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.
MC scored in the bottom of the first on a balk with a runner on third, and the Giants answered with a run of their own in the top of the second after Aubrey Sine led off the inning with a single to right and later scored when sophomore Jack Morkin ‘bit that dog back’ and singled with a runner in scoring position. The hot hitting Wildcats unleashed in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs on three hits. Benz was lifted for Felder who induced a double play to shortstop Anthony Pomilia who tossed to second baseman Genki LeClair who fired a strike to first to end the inning with the Wildcats up 4-1.
MC scored another run in the bottom of the fifth, but as it turned out they would just need two runs to end the Giants season.
Josh Cohen, Nicolas Belgum, Anthony Pomilia, Aubrey Sine and Genki LeClair all had hits with Jack Morkin adding two to the Giants total. The Giants ended the year with a 16-11 season record and a 12-6 MCAL record, ranking 9th in the NCS Division II Rankings.
Post Script: MC lost to Casa Grande in the next round of the DII Championship. Drake won the DIII Championship. Monte Vista and Casa Grande both lost their DI and DII Championship games. Of the six teams competing in the DI-DIII Championship games, the Giants played three teams and had a 3-1 record against them, beating Monte Vista and losing to Casa Grande in the pre-season while defeating Drake twice during conference play. “We were a legitimate NCS Championship team when we were at full strength, I’m proud of our team and what we accomplished this year,” Firenzi said in conclusion of the year.
5/21: The Giants earned their third straight NCS bid today with the #9 seed in the DII NCS Championship Playoffs and will face off against Marin Catholic on Tuesday at 5pm at MC. Redwood will likely face Jack Harris again who has a 1-1 record against the Giants, losing earlier in the year and winning in the MCAL Playoff game on Thursday night.
Redwood had five players who achieved All-League Honors
Dane Goodman was the only Giant this year to earn First Team All-League honors. Goodman ended the season with a .406 batting average which led the team and ranked #3 in the MCAL. He ranked #7 in the MCAL, boasting a .515 slugging percentage and his 18 runs scored ranked 5th in the league. He ranked 3rd in the league for On-Base-Percentage (.494) while knocking in 18 runs during the MCAL season.
Captain Nicolas Belgum earned Second Team honors for the second year in a row. In 2016 Belgum was a honoree as an outfielder and this year he earned the honor as an infielder, playing the majority of the season at first base and moving to second base later in the year. Belgum boasted a .321 batting average and ranked eleventh in the league with ten RBI’s. He tied for seventh in the league with twelve runs scored and was tenth in the league with a .448 on-base-percentage.
Anthony Pomilia also earned his second All-League award by earning Honorable Mention. Despite a shortened season, Pomilia ended the year with a .375 batting average which ranked ninth in the league. His twelve RBI’s ranked sixth in the MCAL.
Michael Benz earned Honorable Mention as a pitcher. His 1.39 ERA ranked seventh in the league and his two wins ranked twelfth. His thirty-seven strike-outs ranked sixth in the MCAL. He also had a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Trevor Foehr also earned Honorable Mention. Foehr played in the outfield, as a catcher and a pitcher placing him in the ‘Utility’ category. Foehr’s .385 batting average ranked seventh in the league and second on the team. He also boasted a .979 fielding percentage.
5/18: The Giants fell to the Marin Catholic Wildcats in the second round of the MCAL playoffs tonight at Albert Park. Marin Catholic moves on the face round-robin champion Drake on Friday night. The Giants will wait until the completion of the NCS seeding meeting to see if their season will continue or end with this bitter loss.
Blake Cusick took the mound for the Giants and held the Wildcats scoreless through three innings but after a base hit and a walk, he was relieved by Michael Benz. Benz induced a pop-out to Nicolas Belgum to record the first out of the inning. Marin Catholic advanced both runners into scoring position on a passed ball. With the infield drawn in, MC’s pinch-hitter roped a hard grounder to the right side that got through scoring the runner from third. Another run scored on the same play when the batter attempted to advance to second and the relay man sent the ball into centerfield, putting the Wildcats up 2-0. Benz struck out the next batter and the inning ended on a fly out to Belgum.
MC starting pitcher, Jack Harris, and Benz would both face the minimum batters for the next three innings with Harris striking out a total of seven while giving up just four hits in his complete game shut-out of the Giants.
Dane Goodman and Trevor Foehr had hits for Redwood and Anthony Pomilia accounted for half of the Giants hits, banging out two hits under the lights. Marin Catholic recorded five hits and had no errors, Redwood had two errors.
“We got beat tonight but the season but I don’t think the season is over”, Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game. “We’ll see what the NCS Seeding Committee says, we beat Drake twice and beat Monte Vista, we should get a seed and play next week.”
5/16: The Redwood Giants punched their ticket into the second round of the MCAL playoffs by beating the San Rafael Bulldogs 5-1 at Moody Field today. Redwood donned their home white uniforms with red sleeves and hats, a look that Head Coach Mike Firenzi has reserved only for the post season. Ironically, it is the same look that the 1977 team sported for their home games during their run to the mythical National Championship forty years ago.
Sophomore Kyle Felder got the start and held the Bulldogs scoreless through four innings, giving up just three hits while striking out three and walking none. Trevor Foehr pitched two innings, giving up an earned run on two hits and a strike out. Zack Tonnerre pitched the final inning, sending the Bulldogs down in order to secure the victory for the Giants.
After eight pitches in the bottom of the first inning, Dane Goodman and Josh Cohen both reached base on back-to-back walks. Nicolas Belgum sent them both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Anthony Pomilia was intentionally walked to load the bases and face Aubrey Sine with one out. Sine blazed an 0-2 fastball into the hole between short and third for a single to put the Giants up 1-0, answering the intentional walk with his bat.
After a quiet second inning and top of the third, Josh Cohen led off the bottom of the inning with a drag bunt single and stole second. Nicolas Belgum dropped another bunt down the third baseline for a hit, advancing Cohen to third. Belgum stole second and after a strike out, Aubrey Sine plated Cohen for his second RBI of the game on a ground out to short to put the Giants up 2-0 after three innings.
Felder’s first pitch of the top of the fourth was sent high into the sky towards the middle of the diamond. Michael Benz called off his pitcher and caught the fly in at the mound. Felder then sent down the next two batters he faced on strike-outs, closing out his day with fifty pitches and setting himself up for the win, while making him eligible to pitch on Friday. Sophomore Jack Morken singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and was lifted for the speedy Drew Jacks. After a strike out, Michael Benz walked after fouling off a 3-2 pitch and was lifted for Riley Marsh. Marsh drew a pick-off attempt at first and the ball sailed over the first baseman’s head, plating Jacks from second and sending Marsh to third. Dane Goodman sent Marsh home on a grounder to short, putting the Giants up 4-0. Josh Cohen then wore a 2-1 curveball and stole second. With two outs, Nicolas Belgum reached on an error, scoring Cohen on the errant throw to put the Giants up 5-0 going into the top of the fifth.
Trevor Foehr came in and gave up a run to the Bulldogs in the fifth, but shut them down in the top of the sixth. Mackie Skall doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth and was lifted for Genki LeClair. LeClair would be left standing on third with Cohen on first (after he walked) after Nicolas Belgum tested the Bulldogs centerfielder on a bomb that was caught over his shoulder in a full sprint as he was approaching the wall.
Zack Tonnerre closed out the game by striking out the side in the top of the seventh. The Giants fans cheered as their team hustled off of the field and filed into the post-game handshake line at home plate. There was no on-field celebration as this group of young men appears to be on a mission with today’s win getting them one step closer to their penultimate goal of winning their third MCAL Championship a feat they will have to accomplish ‘the hard way’ by sweeping the play-offs from the play-in game.
Kyle Felder earned his first Varsity win. Dane Goodman scored and knocked in a run. Josh Cohen had a hit and scored twice for the Giants. Nicolas Belgum, Jack Morken and Mackie Skall also had hits with Aubrey Sine adding a hit and two RBI’s to the fray.
Redwood will square off with Marin Catholic on Thursday night at 7pm at Albert Park with hopes of redeeming theirselves after their tough home loss to the Wildcats on May 5. The Wildcats are riding a six game winning streak, posting twelve-plus hits in each of their wins during this run.
On the other side of the draw, San Marin upset Tam today and will face Drake on Wednesday with the winner set to battle the victor of the Redwood-MC game for the championship. The Championship is set for Friday night.
5/11: The Varsity Giants closed out their regular season schedule with a win today and are on a two-game winning streak. Redwood needed the win to secure third place in the MCAL and did so in commanding fashion, beating Branson at College of Marin 6-3.
Blake Cusick earned his third win of the year and dropped his MCAL ERA to .78 which ranks third among pitchers in the MCAL, after giving up just one earned run in six innings. Cusick gave up just five hits, struck out five and only walked one. Sophomore Kyle Felder closed out the game, pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Felder was the workhorse on the JV League Champion team, and led the team with twelve appearances while boasting a .70 ERA. Remarkably, in forty-nine innings of work, Felder struck out fifty-seven and walked just five.
The Giants still managed to commit a couple of errors in the field and both of the miscues resulted in runs for the Bulldogs. The Giants offense would do enough to compensate for the blunders, scoring two runs in the second, adding another in the third and fifth innings and posted two more in the sixth for the six run total.
Anthony Pomilia, Gregory Block, and Josh Katz had hits for the Giants with Luke Zlatunich, and Josh Cohen each had two hits. Jack Morkin, another Sophomore call-up added two hits himself to the Giants total. In his first Varsity at-bat, Morkin smoked a grounder to right, for his first hit of his Varsity career and scored later in the inning. Jack hit .350 for the Junior Varsity Giants, with four doubles and four triples. Morkin singled up the middle in his second at-bat, knocking in Luke Zlatunich for his first Varsity RBI. Pomilia and Block also had RBI’s with Josh Katz knocking in two runs for the Giants.
The Giants will need to win three straight in order to win their third MCAL Championship in a row. The journey begins on Tuesday when they will host the San Rafael Bulldogs at Moody Field at 4:30. The Bulldogs handed the Giants a tough loss under the lights in a game that was won in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off error.
A Giants loss would end their consecutive MCAL Championship streak and the Giants will fight for a bid into the NCS Tournament. If the Giants win, they will play in a rematch battle with Marin Catholic under the lights at Albert Park on Thursday. Marin Catholic earned the #2 seed and the first round bye. Tam hosts San Marin on the other side of the draw on Tuesday with the winner facing the #1 seed, Drake, on Wednesday. The recently installed pitch count limits will be a huge factor for every team who has earned a bid into the MCAL Championship Playoffs.
5/09: After losing two of their three games last week and plummeting to fourth place, the Giants were victorious today against the 2017 Round-Robin MCAL Champion-Drake Pirates. After a rain-shortened victory earlier in the year, many felt that a true victor wasn’t decided in their first match-up as the game ended in the top of the seventh with the bases juiced for Drake, with no outs and the Pirates down by a run. Today, chances of rain were 0%, with the sun shining and barely a breeze blew while the crowd was entertained by a cleverly engineered playlist, before the first pitch and between innings, that included just about every ‘rain’ song ever recorded from “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” to “Purple Rain”.
Today Drake and Redwood would more than make up for the lost inning from the game before, as it took nine innings to determine a winner. Michael Benz earned the win, throwing 101 pitches in eight innings of work, giving up a run while walking none and striking out five. “It was a phenomenally well-pitched game when we needed it”‘ Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.
Despite committing two errors in the field, the Giants defense came through, making plays when they needed to, and making big plays when they had to. Benz’s second pitch of his outing resulted in a line drive down the third base line. Luke Zlatunich leaped and snagged the liner for the first out of the inning. Benz also kept Anthony Pomilia busy at short, as Pomilia had seven chances resulting in six assists in the field. Benz, himself, made a diving play on a fisted slow roller that was hit to ‘no-man’s-land’ to his right, he bounced up and fired a strike to Nicolas Belgum at first for an out. Josh Cohen made the ‘Play of the Day’ in left field on a rope down the line. Cohen, in a full sprint, dove and snatched a certain triple for an out.
Genki LeClair walked to start the game and set the table for the Giants. After a quick double-play, Nicolas Belgum was hit by a 2-1 curveball and advanced to second on a passed ball. Anthony Pomilia plated Belgum on a single to right putting the Giants up 1-0, a lead they would hold until the third inning. Drake scored on a shallow sacrifice fly to right. Drake aggressively tagged from third and the throw beat the runner by ten steps but short-hopped catcher Mackie Skall and they knotted the game after the ball bounded off of his chest.
Drake starter Owen Hamilton was relieved by Nick Roth in the third. With the score 1-1, Roth and Benz battled for the next six innings, working out of some tough spots, with Roth tallying strike outs by offsetting his plus fastball with nasty curveballs, a pitch he threw confidently throughout the game and on 3-2 counts. Roth ended the game with eight strike outs.
In the top of the ninth, Redwood dampened the Pirates chances of winning as the Giants scored two runs against the current reigning MCAL Champions. Gregory Block lead off the inning with a single up the middle. Mackie Skall advanced Block and reached base on a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher that was thrown away. Josh Cohen was intentionally walked to load the bases and put the force at the plate in order. After a strike-out, Trevor Foehr sent Block home earning the game-winning RBI by wearing a 1-1 fastball, putting the Giants up 2-1 with one out. Anthony Pomilia took an outside fastball for ball four, plating Cohen, giving the Giants an insurance run.
With the Giants up 3-1, Trevor Foehr came in and closed out the game while keeping the tradition alive of working his shortstop as Pomilia was responsible for two of the outs in the inning, including the final out of the game.
The Giants out-hit Drake, tallying eleven hits to Drake’s six. Genki LeClair, Trevor Foehr, Nicolas Belgum and Gregory Block all had hits, with Aubrey Sine adding a double and Mackie Skall banging two doubles for Redwood. Anthony Pomilia had three hits and was responsible for plating two runs, tallying two RBI’s. Again, Benz earned the win with Foehr earning the save.
The Giants close out the regular season on the road at College of Marin against Branson on Thursday. With a 5-12 record Branson will be playing the spoiler role as they are out of the MCAL playoffs but could send the Giants into a tie with San Marin.
The playoff seeding will not be settled until after games are concluded on Thursday. Drake has earned the #1 seed, but the #2 will be determined as MC squares off against Tam with both teams sharing a 12-5 record. If Redwood wins, they will share a tie with MC or Tam and the MCAL tie-breaker will determine the #3 seed. The following determines the #3 seed according to the MCAL Tie-Break rules: For all spots except for the last spot: 1. Head to head competition (Winning percentage) 2. Record above the tie (Winning percentage) 3. If a tie still exists between any two places. …use numbers drawn for place*
Odds are that the record above the tie will determine the #3 seed and considering Redwood is 2-0 against Drake and split (1-1) with MC and Tam, a .750 winning percentage will be hard to beat. But no matter, they will need to win three games next week to win their third MCAL Championship in a row.
5/05: After a their twenty-hit, seventeen-run commanding victory over Justin-Siena, the Varsity Giants lost their final home game of the regular season to Marin Catholic on Senior Day at Moody Field. In their last six meetings the Giants were undefeated against their cross-town rival, until today. With their victory over the Giants, Marin Catholic moved into third place with a 10-5 record, and dropped Redwood into fourth place, sending the Giants into a tie with San Marin with a 10-6 record. Drake also took home a victory, clinching the MCAL round-robin title, squandering the hopes of a three-peat MCAL round-robin Championship for the Giants. Redwood will need to win the MCAL playoffs in order to win their third pennant in a row. “It was a disappointing way to close out the year at our yard, but we still have two on the road next week and a shot at the MCAL Title”, Firenzi said after the game.
Zack Tonnerre took the loss, after giving up a run in the second and was pulled after giving up two runs on a Giants error with no outs in the third. Michael Benz would come in with the bases loaded and after a single and another Giants error, all three that were on base would score. Another run would cross the plate, taking the game to the bottom of the third with the Giants down 6-0. With one out, Trevor Foehr and Nicolas Belgum banged out back-to-back hits, but the inning ended after a pop-out and a fly-out.
MC added on, scoring after another Giants error. The Giants would again commit three errors in the field. With the score 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Aubrey Sine led off the inning with a double to left, lifting the hopes of the Giants faithful that they could cut into the lead, but the Giants went down in order, forcing the Wildcats defense to make plays. The Giants would leave twelve runners on base.
Benz sent the ‘Cats down in order in the top of the fifth but gave up a run in the sixth after yielding three consecutive hits, taking the game to the bottom of the sixth with the Giants down 8-0. Gregory Block worked a walk on eight pitches, and Jackson Barry reached base on a dropped fly ball to right. Genki LeClair would send Block and Barry home after another Wildcat error, but the inning ended despite another hit by Trevor Foehr. Foehr would end the day with three hits in the Giants losing effort.
Foehr came in to pitch the seventh inning and shut the Wildcats down, taking the game to the bottom of the seventh with the Giants down by six runs, 8-2. Anthony Pomilia led off the inning and smoked a ball to center that was dropped, landing him on first. Luke Zlatunich and Aubrey Sine walked, loading the bases with no outs. A strike-out would follow and Jackson Barry would send Pomilia home on a sacrifice fly. With two outs and the score 8-3, the game ended on a ground out to the cheers of the MC fans as the Wildcat players celebrated on Moody Field.
Genki LeClair, Aubrey Sine and Jackson Barry had hits for the Giants, with Nicolas Belgum collecting two hits and Trevor Foehr adding three to the Giants total. Tonnerre and Foehr had two strike-outs on the mound, with Benz adding three.
The Giants will settle the score on the road with Drake at 4:30 on Tuesday, after their first game was ended in a rain-shortened 1-0 victory, a date that Drake has had circled on their calendar since that day. Redwood is currently ranked #7 in the NCS DII Division while Drake is ranked #2.
Redwood has an outside chance of earning the #2 seed (which comes with a first round bye) in the MCAL play-offs. If Redwood wins their next two games and Tam loses to San Marin and Marin Catholic, San Marin would then need to lose their game to Justin-Siena and Marin Catholic would need to lose one of their next two games against Novato. Simply put, Tam needs to lose their next two games, San Marin needs to lose one, and Marin Catholic needs to lose two while the Giants sweep.
Seedings will all be determined this week and game results on Tuesday will make the muddy play-off picture a bit clearer, but no matter, the Giants need a win at Drake on Tuesday.
5/4: The Giants broke out of their three-game slump in a commanding way with a 17-0 victory over Justin-Siena today at Moody Field. Josh Cohen, Blake Cusick and Noah Arrick combined for the shut out on the mound for the Giants, with Cusick earning the win, pitching 5 2/3 innings while giving up just four hits, striking out five and walking none. Noah Arrick closed out the seventh, sealing the victory for Redwood.
The Giants scored a run in the first, two in the second, and blew the game open with nine runs in the third. Redwood would score two more in the fourth and drop another crooked number, scoring three in the fifth. Despite getting two runners on, the sixth inning would be the only inning the Giants wouldn’t score. In the six innings of offense, Redwood would amass twenty hits, score seventeen runs and strike out only two times. Redwood’s defense stepped up, committing just one error in the field. “We needed this today” Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game, “We were good on the mound, Cusick came out and did a hell of a job. The bottom line is that we haven’t been playing up to our potential, hopefully today is a sign of things to come.” Blake Cusick earned his second win of the year and has given up just one earned run in his last ten and a third innings of work.
Luke Zlatunich had one hit on the board, but reached base two other
times on hard hit balls that could have been scored as hits, and scored two Giants runs. Riley Marsh also had a hit, breaking out on a base hit up the middle. Mackie Skall also had a single while adding another RBI on a sacrifice fly. Skall completed his 1-1-1-1 day by scoring. Gregory Block came in to relieve Skall behind the plate, but it was at the plate that Block made the difference with a single and a double, scoring twice while knocking in a run. Drew Jacks got the start in the outfield and banged out two hits, scoring twice, while knocking in three runs. Genki LeClair and Trevor Foehr both had two hits each with Foehr scoring twice while knocking in two runs. Nicolas Belgum, Anthony Pomilia and Aubrey Sine combined for nine hits, each collecting three. Sine knocked in one, Belgum two, with Pomilia plating three. Aubrey Sine has five hits in the last two games.
The Giants are now tied for second place (10-5) with Tam and will host their cross-town rival, Marin Catholic, on Friday at 4:30 at Moody Field. Marin Catholic has a 9-5 record and will likely start their ace, Jack Harris on the mound. Ironically, Harris is a 2016 transfer to MC from Tam. Oddly, the Wildcats still have a rain-out game to make up with Novato, despite the sunny weather we have had in the last two weeks. Drake still stands atop the MCAL Conference after their win today, they boast a 13-2 record with three games to play. With just one more win, Drake will win the round-robin and lock down the #1 seed for the MCAL play-offs. The Giants turn around and play Drake on Tuesday. Friday’s MC vs. Redwood game looms large, as the winner will improve their chances of earning the #2 seed.
5/2: The Giants continued their tailspin, losing on the road in a close battle with the Red-Tailed Hawks. With injuries and battle fatigue plaguing the Giants roster, Coach Firenzi and his coaching staff are filling holes, trying new ideas and losing sleep trying to find the magic formula that will get them back to their winning ways. Of their original 22-man roster, nine players have been taken down to injury or illness, causing them to sit out at least a game. Mononucleosis, a bleeding ulcer, near-concussion, arm injuries (that have spurned MRIs for two separate shoulders and two separate elbows), and a torn up knee-these are just a few of the injuries that have impacted the Varsity squad this year. Not sure if you noticed, but captain Henry Zeisler (presently ranked #2 in the MCAL with a .423 batting average) hasn’t played since March 21. Starting pitcher Oliver Pearson (presently ranked #4 in the MCAL with four wins) hasn’t pitched since April 4. Looking back to their MCAL opener on March 14, only four players who started in the loss against San Marin, started today.
Another void that you won’t see in any stat sheet is that Assistant Coach Joel Russo has departed after the win against Novato. Russo has been a pillar in Firenzi’s coaching staff, coaching first base while working with the the infield and defensive alignments. Russo was a stand-out player for Firenzi when he coached at Marin Catholic. After a professional baseball journey in Italy, he was one of the first to get the call from Firenzi after he was named Head Coach at Redwood. Russo departed to attend the Firefighters Academy, to follow in the footsteps of his father who was a fireman in San Francisco. Since Russo’s departure, Redwood has lost their last three games, committing nine errors in the field.
One of the four players who started in the opener against San Marin is Nicolas Belgum. Belgum is a returning starter and moved to first base from the outfield to fill the void left by Zack Kopstien who graduated and is pitching for MIT this year. With a pitching staff needing rest, Belgum was called on chew up some innings on the mound as he got the start today. After the Giants went down in the top of the first, Tam’s lead-off batter launched the second pitch Belgum threw over the left field wall. After beaning the next batter, catcher Mackie Skall recorded the first out by throwing him out on an attempted steal. Belgum walked the next two batters but was able to work out of the inning with the Giants down 1-0.
Luke Zlatunich doubled to lead off the second, but the top half of inning ended with the tying run in scoring position. Tam kept the pressure on, scoring two more runs in the bottom of the frame taking the game to the top of the third with the Giants down 3-0.
Aubrey Sine led off the inning with a single to left. Mackie Skall followed with a single up the middle and with two runners on, Josh Cohen dropped a drag bunt down the third baseline and beat the throw to load the bases. Jackson Barry scored Sine from third on a ground-out to the right side, cutting into the Hawks lead. Nicolas Belgum then helped his own cause by roping a 3-1 fastball to left, plating Skall. Anthony Pomilia ripped the first pitch he saw up the middle, tying the score 3-3. The Giants threat was stalled on a 6-4-3 double play. After a lead-off single, the Giants defense stepped up with a double-play of their own. Tam attempted a hit-and-run, Trevor Foehr nabbed a sinking liner to right and doubled off the runner at first when he threw a dart to Josh Katz. Belgum would induce another fly out to Foehr to end the inning with the score tied 3-3.
After having a hand in all three outs in the bottom of the third, Trevor Foehr led off the top of the fourth with a drag bunt single, but was quickly erased on an attempted steal. Josh Katz then walked and Aubrey Sine collected his second hit of the day, tomahawking a high fastball down the third baseline. Tam would end the inning on another double-play. After walking the first batter and giving up a hit to the next, Belgum was lifted for Trevor Foehr, sending Drew Jacks to right as Belgum went back to familiar ground at first. A fielder’s choice would send in Tam’s fourth run of the game and after a ground-out to Anthony Pomilia, Foehr struck out the next batter to end the inning with Tam leading 4-3.
The Giants went down quietly in the top of the fifth and Tam scored an insurance run in the bottom half on a single, an error and another fielder’s choice taking the game to the top of the sixth with the score 5-3 in favor of the Red-Tailed Hawks.
After the Giants went down 1-2-3, Foehr sent the Hawks down in the bottom of the sixth despite giving up a walk and a hit.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Dane Goodman walked but the game ended after pinch-hitter Riley Marsh squared up a 2-2 fastball that landed in the glove of the centerfielder.
Again the Giants would out-hit their opponent 8-7, but would tally two errors in the field while Tam had none. Belgum suffered the loss, giving up four runs while giving up five hits. Josh Cohen, Nicolas Belgum, Anthony Pomilia, Luke Zlatunich, Mackie Skall and Trevor Foehr all had hits with Aubrey Sine breaking out with two hits of his own.
Firenzi and the coaching staff will go back to the drawing board to find the starting line-up that will get the Giants back to their winning ways as they face Justin-Siena at home on Thursday and turn around to play Marin Catholic at home on Friday. Both games are at 4:30. Redwood remains in second place behind Drake, but are in a log-jam as they are tied with several teams. Optimists say that Redwood will earn the second seed for the MCAL play-offs. Super-optimists say that Redwood can still win the round robin as with four games left, they are three games behind Drake who they play next Tuesday. Pessimists say that the Giants won’t make the play-offs, with Branson or Terra Linda somehow winning a tie-breaker. The next four games will settle the dispute.
4/28: This has been a ‘Season of Firsts’ for Head Coach Mike Firenzi and the Varsity Giants. For the first time since taking over the helm at Redwood, his Varsity squad is not sitting atop the MCAL standings in first place, a position they held for two consecutive years. With a 9-3 MCAL record, the Giants sit in second place alone. Today, a career first would haunt Firenzi as his team lost to the Terra Linda Trojans, for the first time, this being his 25th year as a head coach in the MCAL. “I don’t really care about personal records, but I do know that my teams were at least 49-0 against TL until today”, Firenzi said after the game. “They they hit us hard and deserve credit, they are on a roll.”
Another first, the Giants were outhit by their MCAL opponent for the first time this year. Terra Linda amassed a total of fifteen hits, the highest total given up by Giants pitching this year. Redwood answered with nine hits of their own. Ironically, the Trojans didn’t have a field to practice on Thursday, but the word is that instead of taking the day off or watching their underclassmen play on their field, they went to the batting cages at McGinnis Park and hit Thursday afternoon. It would seem that the pitching machines have a “Redwood Pitching” setting as nine Trojans contributed to the hit parade, four of which had multiple hits.
Again, in usual fashion, the Giants took an early lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Luke Zlatunich led off with a walk and stood on second after an errant pick-off attempt. Aubrey Sine bunted him to third and Michael Connors hit a fly to left, deep enough to score Luke. With two outs, Trevor Foehr singled setting the table for newcomer Jackson Barry. Barry was brought up from the JV recently due to injuries to Michael Connors and Pascal Brassey and made his first start today. Barry roped a 1-2 curveball through the hole between first and second for another first, Jackson Barry’s first at-bat at the Varsity level resulted in a hit. Josh Katz went in to run for Barry and Dane Goodman belted the third Giant hit in a row, scoring Foehr and Katz, putting the Giants up 3-1 going into the top of the third.
Terra Linda would score three runs in the top of the third and three more in the top of the fifth while holding the Giants scoreless the rest of the game. Zack Tonnerre pitched two innings, giving up two runs while striking out two. Michael Benz suffered his second loss in a row, giving up three earned runs while striking out six in three and a third innings. Blake Cusick pitched the final inning and two thirds, shutting down the potent TL offense, giving up no runs and no hits while striking out three. The Giants committed three errors in the field.
Dane Goodman, Anthony Pomilia, Luke Zlatunich and Michael Connors had hits for the Giants with Trevor Foehr and Jackson Barry adding two hits each to the team total. Goodman would also knock in two runs on the day.
The Giants are on the road on Tuesday to face Tam at 4:30. The Red-Tailed Hawks are in third place with an 8-5 record, the Giants are in second place with a 9-4 record. In order for the Giants to execute another first (the first time they have come from behind to win the round-robin), they will most likely need to go on a five-game winning streak, starting on Tuesday.