Giants Host Serra Wednesday Under the Lights at Albert Park

3/28:  While we never want to look past any game (Redwood vs. Tam at Moody on Tuesday 3/29), we want you to be sure to mark your calendars (and get a sitter if you need to) because this Wednesday night’s game against Serra promises to be one you don’t want to miss.  “I worked on getting this game for more than a year.  I want to see how well we compete against these guys”, coach Firenzi said.

Serra hails from the West Catholic League that boasts powerhouses Bellermine College Prep and Saint Francis.  Saint Francis ended last season ranked #2 in the State and #9 in the Nation, and won the CIF Central Valley Open Division Championship.

This year, based solely on rankings, you could say that Redwood is half as good as Serra.  Nationally, Serra ranks 77th, while the Giants rank 130th.  Serra presently ranks 15th in the State, while Redwood ranks 30th. But when you dig a little deeper into the stats and you’ll find that the teams are fairly evenly matched:

Category           REDWOOD           SERRA                     

Zack Kopstein will likely get the nod on the hill. ‘Kop’ boasts a 4-0 record with a 1.59 ERA

Zack Kopstein will likely get the nod on the hill. ‘Kop’ boasts a 4-0 record with a 1.59 ERA

Batting Ave             .326                       .325
On Base %              .394                       .425
Home Runs                1                            5
Earned Run Ave       1.25                      2.02
Fielding %               .953                      .956

Advanced scouts have reported that Serra has five players who will be playing DI baseball at the college level next year in their starting line-up.  In addition, our advanced scouts reported that they are loaded with lefty hitters, they play great defense, they hit for power but also play some small ball, they will take extra bases and put a lot of pressure on the defense.

Come support your Redwood Giants this Wednesday night at 7:30pm at Albert Park. There will be a charge at the gate and proceeds will go towards the Redwood Baseball Program.  Note-Redwood students with a Student Body Card will be admitted for free.

Varsity Giants Remain Undefeated in MCAL

IMG_50053/24:  The scoreboard tells the story as the Giants routed Terra Linda on the road on Thursday.  Redwood pitching ended the week without yielding a single run to their opponents as they logged their second shut-out.

“You know it’s a good day when you can get twenty-one players into a seven inning game”, coach Firenzi said after the game.  “The best part was, everyone contributed.”

Kopstein lights up the outside corner and gets the Trojan hitter to chase for his fifth strike-out of the day

Kopstein lights up the outside corner and gets the Trojan hitter to chase for his fifth strike-out of the day

Zack Kopstein earned his fourth win of the season, pitching four dominant innings with six punch-outs and without walking a single Trojan hitter.  Zack Tonnerre closed out the last three innings, striking out five while yielding just one hit.

Redwood loaded the bases in the top of the first and Zach Cohen launched a 0-1 fastball off of the top of the right field wall, scoring three runs.  Nic Gillies singled him home putting Redwood up for good, 4-0 going into the bottom of the first.

The Giants had nineteen batters take to the plate and, all combined, ended the day with twelve hits.  The two “Nic’s” led the way as Nicolas Belgum and Nic Gillies had two hits each.  Eric Doctor, Aubrey Sine, Danny Avins, Michael Benz, Trevor Foehr, Garret Aubert and Sam Roiz also added to the hit parade.

Sam Roiz locks in before belting a single

Sam Roiz locks in before belting a single

The Giants will defend their on-going two year MCAL home win streak against Tam at 4:30 on Tuesday.

Cohen Sharp in Complete Game Shut-Out of Novato

Cohen wheels and deals for his fifth strike-out on the day

Cohen wheels and deals for his fifth strike-out on the day

3/22:  Redwood scored five runs but one would have been all they needed as Zach Cohen earned his third win of the season with a shut out of the Novato Hornets at home.  Cohen lowered his ERA to 1.02 which is his best start in his fourth season as a Varsity Giant.  “He had great control of his pitches and pitched ahead (in the count) all day”, Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.  Cohen walked two, struck out five and had twenty-three first pitch strikes to the thirty batters he faced in his complete-game victory.

The Giants only had two more hits than the Hornets (9-7), and four guys carried the load, with Eric Doctor, Parker Laret, Zack Kopstein and Nic Gillies tallying eight of the Giants hits with two hits each.  Aubrey Sine added a single to the mix.  Nic Gillies banged two doubles with ‘Doc’ (Doctor) and ‘Kop’ (Kopstein) also roping two-baggers.  Danny Avins, Laret, and Gillies were responsible for knocking in the Giants runs.

 Nic Gillies coasts into second after knocking in a run

Nic Gillies coasts into second after knocking in a run

Redwood will take their show on the road against Terra Linda on Thursday.


Varsity Wins Home Opener vs. San Rafael

3/18:  After what the IJ coined as a ‘Sloppy’ win on the road on Tuesday, Firenzi and his coaching crew went to work on Wednesday and Thursday to smooth out some of the rough edges.  Particularly, good throws on defense, executing hit and runs, base running, situational hitting, and getting bunts down, which made for two days of full practice plans to get ready for their home opener against San Rafael.

Zack Kopstein fires strike three as Eric Doctor looks on

Zack Kopstein fires strike three as Eric Doctor looks on

Unfortunately, it looked like the Giants were going to start right where they left off when they committed an error after recording only one out in the top of the first.  The error was followed by a single to right and the Bulldogs threatened early, with one out and runners on first and second.  Starting pitcher Zack Kopstein was able to induce a line out from San Rafael’s clean-up hitter and closed out the threat with a strike out to end the inning.

The Bulldogs came in to the game with an undefeated record (4-0) which has had many people scratching their heads as they have already won more games this year than they did the entire 2015 season (they had a 3-21 overall record and were 1-17 in the MCAL in 2015).  It looked like they would draw first blood in the top of the third when Kopstein beaned the lead-off hitter which was followed by a single to left, putting runners on first and second and no outs.  San Rafael dropped a sacrifice bunt, putting runners on second and third with one out.  Henry Zeisler fielded a hard ground ball and fired to home.  Parker Laret made a perfect tag on a close play at the plate cutting down the run.  Kopstien ended the inning with a grounder to Eric Doctor, ending the inning.

The ‘head scratching’ turned to ‘chin scratching’ as the Giants went into the bottom of the fourth without a hit.  But Eric Doctor roped a double over the center fielders head and Henry Zeilser followed with a single up the middle, scoring Doctor and putting the Giants up 1-0.  Designated hitter Zach Cohen dropped a perfect bunt for a single, but the Giants would leave runners on first and third after a strike out and a hard line drive by Nic Gillies.

Firenzi sends Belgum home

Firenzi sends Belgum home

Josh Cohen led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to right but was erased on an attempted steal of second.  Nicolas Belgum then singled to center and scored on a well executed hit and run by Parker Laret, after the left field miss-played the ball.

Aubrey Sine kept the line moving with a single to left, advancing Laret to third and Eric Doctor dropped a bunt single, scoring Laret.  Henry Zeilser then singled to right, scoring Sine.  Zach Cohen laced a hard grounder to the second baseman that was too hot to handle, scoring two more runs, putting the Giants up 6-0. “We were able to execute on all the things we worked on during practice”, Firenzi said after the game.  “We still have a lot of work to do, but I am pleased with the progress we are making.”

The Bulldogs scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Zack Kopstien finished the game strong with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 7th.  Kopstein earned his third win of the season, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out six.  The brothers’ Cohen (Zach and Josh) each had a hit with Belgum, Laret and Sine also adding to the hit total.  Zeisler and Doctor added two hits each, and they combined for three RBI’s.  Zach Cohen also had two RBI’s.

The Giants host the Novato Hornets on Tuesday at 4:30 at Moody Field.  The Hornets are 3-3 overall and have a 1-1 MCAL record coming off a 9-1 blow-out loss to Branson on Friday.  They will likely face Senior left-hander Andy Cochran who earned the win in their home opener against Justin-Siena.

Giants Grab Headlines

3/16:  If you are the Sports Editor of the local newspaper and have the defending NCS DIII Champion (Drake) facing the NCS DII Champion (Redwood) on opening day of the MCAL baseball, you send your prep sports reporter and photographer to cover the game.  That is if you are a really smart sports editor.

IMG_0631 (1)The Independent Journal delivered as the Giants grabbed front page billing as many games were not played due to saturated fields after a five day winter storm dumped five inches of rain on Marin County.

However,  the crack staff at has a recommendation IMG_4498for what might have been a potentially better layout and headline for the game story.


Giants Win MCAL Opener vs. Drake

3/15:  After a rainout of their last scheduled pre-season game against Monte Vista, the Giants opened the MCAL season with a win on the road today vs. Drake.  Redwood will spend this season defending their MCAL and NCS Championships.  The Pirates started Senior Randall Thornton who boasts a career .99 ERA with eleven wins while Redwood answered with Senior Zach Cohen who has a 1.77 ERA with thirteen wins.  While the 2016 club is a team that is still searching for it’s identity, they are already drawing comparisons to the 2015 team.

The Giants are in the same spot as they were last year with one loss on the season and a 1-0 MCAL record.   Strong pitching, timely hitting, great defense and aggressive base running are characteristics both teams share.  But it would be bad base running that would be the bane for the Giants today as they had runners picked off, caught stealing, caught sleeping and even had a runner called out at third on an appeal as he failed to tag up on a deep fly to left hit by Aubrey Sine.  All told, Redwood gave up at least three runs on the day.

The 2015 team won fifteen of their twenty-seven games by two runs or less, and seven of their wins were come-from-behind victories.  Today, Redwood put a notch in both of those columns despite jumping out to an early lead in the first inning when Josh Cohen and Henry Zeisler hit back-to-back singles and Parker Laret plated Cohen.  But in the bottom of the sixth, the Pirates put a few hits together and a costly error put them up by a run going into the top of the seventh inning.

“Don’t worry guys, we’ve got this…”, said Eric Doctor as the Giants needed a run to tie and only three outs standing between them and their first MCAL loss of the season, “…We’ve been here before.”  Parker Laret led off the inning with a walk, and Aubrey Sine followed with a single, putting the Laret in scoring position.  Eric Doctor was intentionally walked, putting the go ahead run in scoring position.  Zack Kopstien tied the game with a slow roller hit to the right side of the infield, plating Sine.  Pascal Brassey hit

Pascal Brassey hustles to 1st as Eric Doctor heads to home with Coach Firenzi looking on

Pascal Brassey hustles to 1st as Eric Doctor heads to home with Coach Firenzi looking on

a hard grounder to short and the Giants scored two when the throw skidded past the first baseman’s glove, putting the Giants up by a score of 4-2.  “We’ve been here before.”

Zach Cohen shut the Pirates down for five innings, pitching through some tough situations, and picked off three Pirates on the bases during the game.  Cohen didn’t have a strike-out on the day, but his defense made plays behind him, including a Parker Bartlett to Pascal Brassey to Zack Kopstien double play to end a threat in the bottom of the 2nd inning and an amazing diving play made by Eric Doctor at third.

The Giants scattered five hits, with Josh Cohen, Henry Zeisler, Aubrey Sine, Eric Doctor and Pascal Brassey each contributing a hit to the total.  Zack Kopstien and Parker Laret each had an RBI on the day.  “I feel very fortunate that we beat Drake facing their best pitcher at their yard.” Firenzi said after the game.

Redwood plays this Friday against San Rafael at home.  The Bulldogs have started the year winning their first four games of the season, their best start in years.

Bats Come Alive in Win Against Montgomery

3/8:  The Giants reached double-digits for the first time this year in the hit column, out-hitting the Montgomery Vikings 13-6 in their win at Moody Field on Tuesday.  They also outscored the Vikings by 5 runs, their largest margin of victory in a non-league game this year.  “We came out and hit the ball like we can today”, Coach Firenzi said.  Seven Giants had hits, four had multiple hits, and five of their thirteen hits were for extra bases (all doubles).

Josh Cohen and Junior Henry Zeisler contributed three hits each.  All three of Zeisler’s hits were doubles, IMG_4335the most exciting of which bounded off of the top-third of the right field wall.  “…I just turned on the inside fastball.  I thought it had a chance because the right fielder turned his head and didn’t move, he just watched it”, Zeisler said.  Henry is another Giant who has been working with Coach Endriss.  “He has really helped me, he simplifies everything, which I really like.”  Coach Firenzi has been appreciative of the time Endriss has spent with his players this season, mostly because his players are learning and getting better. “I have seen a noticeable difference in our hitters since Coach Endriss has been working with our hitters”, Firenzi said.

Parket Laret had two hits with three RBI’s, Eric Doctor also had two hits, with Zach Cohen adding a hit and two RBI’s.  The Sophomore tandem of Josh Cohen and Pascal Brassey added four hits, two doubles and three runs scored, with Cohen going 3-4.

Defensively, the Giants were flawless in the field through six innings.  Aubrey Sine made an amazing IMG_4262over-the-shoulder catch in the 4th inning that would have likely scored a run and put the Vikings in striking distance.

Zack Kopstien earned his second win of the season, giving up just one run while striking out six. With the Giants up 10-1 going in to the top of the 7th, Zach Cohen came in to close out the game.  A few walks, a few hits, and a dropped fly ball in the outfield led to four runs for the Vikings.  But a nice relay throw and a controversial call at third resulted in the final out of the inning.  Benches cleared after the play, but cooler heads prevailed and supportive post-game handshakes put the final stamp on the game.  Giants 10, Vikings 5.

Redwood now takes their 3-1 record to Monte Vista at 3:30 on Friday.  Monte Vista boasts a .356 batting average and a 1.00 earned run average in their three games this year.  Weather permitting, this will truly be a tough test for the Giants.


Varsity Wins with a Shut-Out

3/1:  The Varsity Giants blanked the Cardinal Newman Cardinals on the road 2-0 in Santa Rosa.  Many have debated if there really is a home field advantage in the sport of baseball.  While the outfield fence distances, foul ground and backstop vary from field to field, the bases and the distance from the pitcher’s mound to the plate are exactly the same no matter where the game is played.  There has never been a ’10th Man’ referencing the crowd in baseball while in football the ’12 Man’ is commonplace.

Cardinal Newman has a beautiful all-turf field with expansive outfield fences and partially sunken dugouts.  The field plays fast and Newman’s infielders played their positions deep, taking away hits from the Giants all day.  “We came out and hit the ball hard all over the yard all day.  I feel like they took away at least 6 hits from us today, the shortstop and third baseman both took away a couple each and their centerfielder took away at least 2.”, said Head Coach Mike Firenzi after the game.  Henry Zeisler, Eric Doctor, Parker Laret and Aubrey Sine were all victims of the thefts.

Firenzi exposed the deep infield in the top of the 2nd when after Sine and Doctor singled to start the inning, Zach Kopstien dropped a bunt putting both runners in scoring position.  Nicolas Belgum followed with a bunt single, scoring Sine from 3rd, putting the Giants up 1-0.

IMG_4178Zach Cohen pitched a gem, earning his first win of the season by pitching a complete-game shut out.  Cohen only gave up 3 hits and struck out 10 in his 7 innings of work.  “The Senior came out and did what we needed him to do.  He pitched with confidence, used his defense and stayed ahead in counts.”, said Firenzi.  As walks have haunted the Giants up to this point, Cohen didn’t walk a single batter.

The Giants scored an insurance run in the top of the 7th when Josh Cohen singled to center and stole 2nd.  Zeisler moved him to 3rd on a hard ground ball to the right side.  Parker Laret hustled out an infield hit, setting the table for Aubrey Sine.  Sine executed a textbook hit and run, hitting a hard grounder to the right side that would have been an inning-ending double-play.  But with the 2nd baseman covering the bag, Sine found the hole, scoring Cohen from 3rd.

The Giants tallied 9 hits, with Josh Cohen, Aubrey Sine and Nicolas Belgum with 2 hits each and Parker Laret, Eric Doctor and Nic Gillies adding to the total.  Sine and Belgum both had RBI’s on the day.

Redwood will host the Montgomery Vikings on Tuesday, March 8 at Moody Field.

Varsity Giants Improve Record

2/26:  Redwood improved their winning percentage to .500 (1-1) with a win against the Petaluma Trojans on Friday, a day that started sunny and warm but ended rainy and cold.  A day that some of the best contact resulted in outs or errors, and some of the weakest contact resulted in hits.  A day when the Giants won, which is always a good day.

The Giants came out on fire, scoring two early runs in the top of the 1st.  The rally was sparked by a 2-26_petalumalead-off double by Josh Cohen.  Henry Zeilser followed with a hard single sending Cohen to third.  After Zeisler stole 2nd,  Aubrey Sine singled, knocking in both runners.

Pitcher Zach Kopstien looked sharp, holding the Trojans scoreless until the bottom of the 4th.  But it would be lead-off walks that would haunt Zach, as a lead-off walk scored in the bottom of the 4th after a couple of Giant errors.  A lead-off walk would score again in the bottom of the 5th tying the score 2-2 with just 2 innings to play.

Parker Laret led of the top of the 6th with his first homer of the year, ripping the first pitch he saw over the left field foul pole.  Eric Doctor singled with one out, stole 2nd and scored on a hard hit ball by Nicolas Belgum that the Petaluma shortstop airmailed over the 1st baseman’s head, putting the Giants up 4-2.  Kopstien held Petaluma scoreless in the bottom of the 6th, pitching to contact and using his defense to close out his outing as he induced a Bartlett to Avins to Zeilser double-play to end the inning.

The Giants added on in the top of the 7th, scoring four runs on just one hit (a single by Aubrey Sine) putting the Giants up 8-2.  Parker Laret came in to close the game in the bottom of the 7th, striking out the first batter he faced on four pitches.  The four runs the Giants scored in the top of the inning proved necessary as the Trojans threatened, scoring 3 runs in the frame.  Final score: Giants 8, Trojans 5.

Kopstien earned his first win of the season, pitching 6 innings while striking out 3 and yielding 2 runs on 3 hits.  Aubrey Sine and Henry Zeisler had 2 hits each with Danny Avins, Josh Cohen, Laret, and Doctor each adding a hit each.  Nicolas Belgum pounded the ball all day, reaching base 3 times with a hit in all of four of his at-bats.

The Giants have a scrimmage game on Saturday and play their 3rd non-conference game against Cardinal Newman on the road on Tuesday.  With a win-loss record of 1-1, Redwood is in the same place they were at this time last year.


Redwood Varsity Drops Home Opener to Casa Grande

2/24: They might have had some first game jitters, they could have also felt some pressure to continue the Giants 15-game home winning streak, maybe they still have a lot of rust to kick off from the offseason, or perhaps they are still figuring out their identity.  No matter, the Giants were not the better team today as they lost their home pre-season opener, 6-2, against the Casa Grande Gauchos on a sunny day in Larkspur.

The game was scoreless until the the top of the 3rd.  Starting pitcher Zach Cohen struck out first batter he faced in the inning, but a couple of errors in the outfield led to a 4-run inning for Casa.  Redwood answered with a run in the bottom of the frame when Henry Zeisler plated Parker Bartlett on a sacrifice fly.  Casa scored twice in the top of the 6th on an infield error that was followed by a single, taking the Giants into the bottom of the 6th down 6-1.

The Giants tried to spark a rally in the bottom of the 7th as Trevor Foehr walked with one out, Zeisler singled to right, and Parker Laret hit a missile off of the pitcher, loading the bases for Aubrey Sine.  Sine hit the first pitch he saw deep enough to score Foehr from 3rd, putting the Giants in striking distance, 6-2.  But with only an out to spare, the game ended on a pop fly with the tying run standing in the on-deck circle.

The Giants offense struggled as they struck out 9 times and failed to get timely hits as they stranded 9 runners on base.  Zeisler, Laret, Nicolas Belgum, Zach Cohen and Josh Cohen combined for 5 hits for the Giants.  Defensively, the Giants logged more errors than runs scored, 3-2. However, 2nd baseman Parker Bartlett was flawless on his 5 chances in the field and stole a hit when he made a diving play to his left that saved a run.IMG_3653

Zach Cohen struck out 2 in his 4.1 innings of work and was relieved by his brother, Josh, who struck out 1 in his 1.2 innings.  Parker Laret closed for the Giants with a scoreless frame, striking out 1.  When asked if he was concerned about opening the season with a loss, Coach Firenzi said, “You don’t win championships in February, you win them in May.”

The Giants are on the road as they play Petaluma on Friday at 3:30 and have a quick turnaround with a scrimmage against Riordan on Saturday.  The game on Saturday will be followed by the Dugout Club Fundraiser at the Redwood Cafeteria that night.


Redwood Looks Sharp in Scrimmage vs. Piedmont

2/20:  The Giants played an 8-inning non-conference scrimmage vs. the Highlanders on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Piedmont.  As the Freshman were wrapping up a victory at home and after watching the conclusion of a tough loss by the JV,  the Varsity Giants came out and dazzled the crowd with a flawless 2-ball pre-game infield that commanded an ovation from the crowd.

The Giants fans barely had a chance to settle down as in the top of the first inning, after 2 hit batsmen and a walk, Junior Aubrey Sine dug into the batters box with the bases loaded.  Sine was the Giants homer leader in 2015 and has been working closely with Coach Al Endriss this pre-season.  The clean-up hitter didn’t disappoint the crowd as he promptly deposited a 1-2 pitch 60 feet beyond the left field wall for a grand slam, a fitting introduction to the 2016 season.

Zach Cohen pitched 2 scoreless innings, Zack Kopstien followed with 3 scoreless innings and both were dominant from the mound.  Josh Cohen pitched another scoreless 2 innings and Zach Tonnerre closed it out, by not yielding a run and ending the game with a strikeout.

The scrimmage does not count in the Giants record, nor do any of the statistics from the game (there wasn’t even an official scorebook kept) but the Giants had over 12 hits, several for extra bases, played solid defense and didn’t give up a run.  Even though we don’t really keep score in a scrimmage, the Giants plated 12 runs.  One of the most notable feats was that Firenzi and his coaching staff were able to get all 20 players into the game to kick the rust off as they prepare for their first non-conference game against Casa Grande on Wednesday.

Redwood has struggled against the Gauchos and returning players hope to avenge the tough 9-inning loss that Casa Grande handed the Giants in 2015. Don’t miss out, show your support for the Giants and attend their first home game of the 2016 season, Wednesday, February 24 at 3:30pm at Moody Field. Admission is free.

Redwood Lands 8 on the 2015 All-MCAL Team

Presenting the 2015 ALL-MCAL Team:

2015 All-MCAL Baseball Team
Pitcher of the Year
Brandon Buckley (Jr.) Marin Catholic
Player of the Year
Marcus Chiu (Sr.) San Marin
First Team
Devon Pence (Sr.) IF Redwood
Riley Overend (Sr.) IF Redwood
Sam Reinertsen (Sr.) IF Branson
Colton Peterson (Jr.) IF Justin-Siena
Cameron Michael (Jr.) OF Justin-Siena
Robbie Cassee (Sr.) OF Novato
Aubrey Sine (So.) OF Redwood
Tyler Peck (Sr.) P Redwood
Chase Gardner (Sr.) P Novato
Clay Dunkle (Sr.) C Justin-Siena
Bryan Jakiemiec (Sr.) DH/U Marin Catholic
Second Team
Erik Doctor (Jr.) IF Redwood
Mason Collins (Sr.) IF Tamalpais
Angelo Zorn (So.) IF San Rafael
Casey Armusewicz (So.) IF Marin Catholic
Scott Sheron (Sr.) OF San Marin
Jake Ferm (Sr.) OF Tamalpais
John MacLean (Sr.) OF Marin Catholic
Colby Morris (Sr.) P Branson
Randall Thornton (Jr.) P Drake
Dawsen Bacho (Jr.) C San Marin
Chase Gardner (Sr.) DH/U Novato
Honorable Mention
Dominic Burke (Jr.) IF San Marin
Ryan George (Jr.) IF Drake
Brendan Natuzzi (Sr.) IF Justin-Siena
Josh Khoo-Miller (Sr.) IF Branson
Adam Hussain (Sr.) OF Redwood
Sam Dorfman (Sr.) OF Tamalpais
Kevin Miles (Jr.) OF Drake
Will Martel (Sr.) P Drake
Chris Allen (Jr.) P Terra Linda
Zachary Cohen (Jr.) P Redwood
Parker Laret (Jr.) C Redwood
Randall Thornton (Jr.) DH/U Drake


IMG_1615They did it! For the 5th time in Redwood Baseball history, the Giants are NCS Champions. “I’ve coached a lot of teams with different personalities in my 21 years of coaching high school baseball, and I have never seen anything like this group of kids. There is something about this team…they are special.”, Head Coach Firenzi said after the game. “All year long they have done just enough to win.  If they score 1 run, we score 2. If they score 13 runs, we’ll score 14. That’s the way it’s been all year.”  Friday night was no different as it took 11 innings and over 3 hours for the NCS Division II High School Baseball Champion to be crowned with the Giants coming out on top beating the Livermore Cowboys, 5-4 under the lights at a packed Albert Park.

After a lead off single, a sacrifice bunt, a steal of 3rd, and sacrifice fly, Livermore went up 1-0 before the crowd settled in after player introductions and the National Anthem.  Redwood answered in bottom of the frame.  Adam Hussain (get used to that name) hit a 2-out ground ball to 3rd and when the throw to first pulled the 1st baseman off the bag, a hustling Riley Overend scored from 3rd.  Starting pitcher Zach Cohen settled in and sent the Cowboys down in order in the top of the 2nd.  Zach Kopstein and Aaron Dorfler both singled in the bottom of the inning, but the Giants couldn’t capitalize as they were left on 2nd and 3rd.  The Cowboys dropped a crooked number in the top of the 3rd, scoring 2 runs and going up 3-1.  Despite a Adam Hussain double, the Giants again left a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the inning.  After 3 innings, the score was 3-1 in favor of the Cowboys and Redwood had left 5 runners in scoring position.  Kopstein and Dorfler would again both single in the bottom of the 4th and after Devon Pence walked loading the bases, MCAL Batting Champion Riley Overend singled to left, scoring Nick Gillies (running for Kopstein) and Aaron Dorfler.  Cowboys 3, Giants 3.  In the top of the 5th, Tyler Silva rocked a 2-0 fastball down the left field line sending Giants left field Aaron Dorfler in a full sprint.  After getting the ball in to the infield, Aaron would go down with a hamstring injury and he was replaced by Ryan Dudgeon.  After a Giants error the momentum seemed to be shifting the Cowboys way, when they threatened with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out and their crowd supported them, as they began to chant “Let’s go Cowboys!”.  However, the Giants partisan crowd retaliated with a “Let’s go Redwood!” chant that drowned out the Cowboy crowd and could probably be heard in Livermore.  “By far, this is the loudest I have ever heard a crowd at Albert Park.’ Coach Tim Grayson said (actually yelled) over the deafening crowd.  Firenzi elected to intentionally walk Ryan Ruley who already had ripped a double in the game, loading the bases but putting the double play in order.  And the crowd grew louder, “LET’S GO REDWOOD!!!”.  Cohen worked out of the inning with a fly out to right fielder Aubrey Sine and another, testing Ryan Dudgeon in left, ending the day for Cohen as he left the game after throwing 78 pitches.  Instead of opting for the Giants senior ace Tyler Peck (who had 3 innings left), Firenzi opted for his other junior ace, Zach Kopstein to potentially close out the game.

IMG_3387Kopstein and Triantos were dominant from the mound, pitching scoreless frames in the 5th and 6th.  However, Kopstein was touched for a run in the top of the 7th putting the Cowboys up 4-3 and just 3 Giant outs standing between them and the Cowboys 1st NCS Championship.  Triantos retired the 1st batter he saw in the bottom of the 7th, and would need to be lifted as he reached the 10 innings pitched limit.  Triantos received a rousing ovation from the crowd and as Ryan Ruley took his warm up pitches, Firenzi approached the first 2 hitters Ruley would face, Adam Hussain and Eric Doctor.  Before Firenzi could utter his best and most inspirational speech he would ever give, they confidently said “Don’t worry coach, we got this.”  Firenzi just nodded and walked back to the 3rd base coaches box.  Hussain then ripped a 2-1 pitch down the left field line for a double and Eric Doctor tied the score when he singled to center scoring the sliding Hussain from 2nd on a close play at the plate.  Cowboys 4, Giants 4.  Extra innings.  “We got this.”

In the top of the 9th the Giants showed off their defensive skills.  Devon Pence took away a sure hit when he ranged to his right and fired a laser across the diamond, recording the assist by a half of a step.  Adam Hussain would later flash his glove with 2 outs and a runner moving on the pitch.  Cowboy Kevin Key roped a line drive in the gap that looked like it would go for extra bases and give Livermore the lead.  Hussain read it perfectly off the bat and in a dead sprint, laid out and made what turned out to be a game-saving diving catch as the Giants didn’t score in the bottom of the frame.

The score remained 4-4 and before the Giants hit the field to play defense in the top of the 10th Kopstein told his teammates, “I’ll get you a quick inning.” Zach struck out the side in 9 pitches.  The Giants couldn’t close it out in the bottom of the 10th and when Zach walked the lead-off hitter in the top of the 11th and hit the 3rd batter he faced in the inning, Firenzi went to his senior ace, Tyler Peck.  Kopstein pitched 5 1/3 innings and threw 102 pitches in a valiant effort.  Peck induced a hard grounder that was fielded by the slick fielding Devon Pence who recorded a fielder’s choice at 2nd leaving runners on 1st and 3rd.  The Cowboys stole 2nd putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.  On the 2nd pitch to the next batter, Livermore may have gone to the ‘Redwood Archive’ when the runner on 2nd made his way towards 3rd, reminiscent of the play Redwood ran in 1977 against Taiwan when they scored their only run of the game in front of an estimated 4,000 fans at Endriss Field.  The Livermore runner on 2nd started his way towards 3rd and Parker Laret fired a rocket to Riley Overend.  As the runner on 3rd crept towards the plate, Riley ran towards him and as soon as he broke towards the plate, he fired a strike to catcher Parker Laret who dropped the tag ending the threat.

With 1 out in the bottom of the 11th, Riley Overend was hit by a pitch putting him on 1st and then advanced to 2nd on a ground out to 3rd.  Overend read a 1-0 curve-ball in the dirt perfectly and advanced to 3rd.  Aubrey Sine then walked, setting the stage for Adam Hussain.  With runners on 1st and 3rd, Hussain hit a high chopper to 3rd.  Adam turned on the jets and slid into 1st head-first leaving a cloud of dust and over 1,000 fans holding their breath waiting for the call as Overend crossed the plate.  When the umpire signaled ‘Safe’, Albert Park erupted.  Players, students, and parents stormed the field as the Varsity Giants piled up between home and 1st.  “I wanted to win this game so bad.’ Overend said during the game and after to an IJ reporter.  Overend ended the day with a hit, an RBI and scored 2 of the Giants runs.  Zach Kopstein and Aaron Dorfler  both had 2 hits with Eric Doctor adding 3 to the Giants total.  Senior Adam Hussain ended the night with a run scored, an RBI and 4 hits.  Tyler Peck earned 13th win of the season. Check out our story later on all of the accolades the 2015 Redwood Giants Baseball Program earned.  Most notably, their 1st NCS Championship in 18 years.