Giants Bounce Back as Bats Come Alive

3/8:  After opening conference play with a tough loss, the Varsity Giants bounced back, putting up crooked numbers in the first three innings hosting the Branson Bulls today at Moody Field.

The Bulls threatened in the top of the first, loading the bases on two free passes and a hit batter, but starting pitcher Kyle Felder was able to work through it with help from his defense and himself, forcing a bases loaded grounder back to the box.  The Giants doubled their run total against San Marin in the first inning as after one out, a Lucas Roy single was followed by a single by Jackson Barry.  Nick Welch would single, scoring Roy to post the first Giants run.  Jack Morken would follow with the fourth hit in a row, sending Barry home, putting Redwood up 2-0.

Felder made quick work of the Bulls in the top of the second, sending them down 1-2-3.  Starting catcher Jake Gassman led off the bottom of the second with a single to center.  Gassman would advance to second on a wild pitch and steal third on the first pitch to Lucas Roy.  Roy then knocked Gassman home for his second hit on the day, putting the Giants up 3-0.  Roy would also steal third and score on a Jackson Barry sacrifice fly to center.  After two innings, Redwood 4 – Branson 0.

After a lead off single and a strike-out, Branson would cut the lead in half on a wind-aided, fly ball that cleared the wall in left.  Jackson Bender was hailed from the bullpen to stymy the Bulls threat, which he di in commanding fashion, inducing a fly out and ending the inning with a strike out.  Shortstop Jackson Reed led off the bottom of the frame with a walk, and Jake Gassman singled to right side, but Reed was cut down on a perfect throw to third.  Gassman went to third on a balk by the pitcher and was knocked home on a single by Genki LeClair.  After stealing second and third, LeClair then scored on a passed ball, putting the Giants up 6-2 after three innings.

Bender then sent the Bulls down in order, and the Giants followed suit, sending the game into the fifth inning.  Satoshi Miki led off the inning reaching first on an error.  After Miki stole second and third, Jake Gassman would tally his third hit on the day, roping a double to center, scoring Satoshi from third, putting the Giants up 7-2

Branson scored a run in the top of the sixth, but that would end up being all of the scoring for the day.  Four Giants pitchers (Kyle Felder, Jackson Bender, Ben Cohen, and Robbie Wilson) would combine for the win, holding the Bulls to three runs while striking out four and only walking two.  Genki LeClair, Jackson Barry, Nick Welch and Jack Morken all had a hit apiece, while Lucas Roy added two and Jake Gassman had a perfect day at the plate, going 3-3, scoring twice with an RBI.  The Giants stole a total of seven bases on the day.

The Giants scheduled game against Dublin will be rescheduled due to impending rain.  They will resume league play, hosting the Tamalpais Red-Tailed Hawks on Tuesday at 4:00pm at Moody Field.

 

 

Varsity Giants Drop MCAL Opener

3/7: Under gray skies the Varsity Baseball Team was unable to bounce back from an early deficit, despite out hitting the Mustangs eight to six. After conceding two early runs in the top of the first, Redwood would load the bases in the bottom half with hits by Lucas Roy and Jackson Barry and a walk issued to Jack Morken but were unable to take advantage of the early opportunity.

Jake Gassman shows off his perfect form

The Giants also had their chances to score in the fourth inning after starting pitcher, Nick Welch, lead off with a double to left field and Morken was hit by a pitch. With two men on and no outs, the Giants hit the ball hard, but right into the hands of the Mustangs defense and were kept off the scoreboard.

The Giants finally scored in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jackson Barry led off with a booming double to left-center field. Ben Cohen would enter the game and run for Barry. Drake Goodman then drove the ball to right field, scoring Cohen, but would be tagged out at second base. Matt Birchenough entered the game and singled to right field. Sam Warren then drove the ball safely to right field, but the rally would end as Birchenough got tagged out at third base to end the inning. Although Redwood outhit the Mustangs, they could not capitalize on their opportunities.

Drake Goodman bangs one of the Giants eight hits

Giants pitching (Welch, Bender, & Gassman) registered seven strikeouts on the day, giving up just one walk. On offense, Lucas Roy, Nick Welch, Matt Birchenough, Sam Warren & Satoshi Miki all had hits. Drake Goodman had the only RBI on the day and Jackson Barry lead all batters with two hits on the day.

“We won’t win a lot of games scoring just one run”,  Head Coach Mike Firenzi said after the game.  “We just can’t put that kind of pressure on the pitching staff if we want to win.”

The Varsity Giants resume MCAL play at home on Friday March 8th against Branson. First Pitch, 3:30 p.m. Senior, Kyle Felder, is the anticipated starter.

Varsity Pitchers Ring Up 11 Batters in First Loss of Season

3/1: Baseball is a very peculiar and difficult game. Statistically speaking, the Varsity Giants did well in two of the three key categories (hitting and pitching) which would have been enough to beat power house Casa Grande high school.  Uncharacteristically, it would be the Giants defense that let them down and as a result, Redwood fell to the Gauchos five to one in the last preseason game before MCAL league play begins next week. With a record of 3-1, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Mike Firenzi, has much to be excited about.  “We were off today but I’m not going to let this game get us down.  We had a great preseason and have a lot of good things to look back on, we also have a lot to build on and learn from our preseason.  I feel good about going into conference play, despite what happened today, we are ready.” Firenzi said after the game.

Senior Jackson Bender struck out five in two innings

Starting pitcher, Kyle Felder, threw two shutout innings, striking out three along the way. Senior, Jackson Bender, was exceptional through two innings of work, striking out five batters. Sophomore, Ben Cohen, was given two innings of work as well, striking out one. Junior ace, Nick Welch, had an inning of work before next weeks MCAL opener against San Marin. The Giants pitching staff is deep and healthy, which counts when it matters in May.

The Giants best opportunity to score came in the fourth inning. First baseman, Jack Morken, started things off with a hard hit single up the middle. Alex Hagen followed Morken with a deep blast into center field, moving Morken to third base. Senior, Sam Warren, did not hesitate and drove a line drive down the first base line, scoring Morken (1-3, Casa). Warren would go on to single in the sixth inning, tallying a team best two hits for the day.

The Giants stumbled defensively at critical times in the contest, committing six errors which accounted for four unearned runs that crossed the plate. There were also many athletic defensive plays in the field, but the weight of the fielding mistakes could not be lifted in effort to mount a comeback (Final Score: 5 to 1, Casa).

Senior Sam Warren led the team with two hits, knocking in the Giants lone run

Coach Firenzi has utilized all his players during the preseason. Platooning athletes into the outfield and infield, including the two Jakes behind the plate as he prepares the team for the long season ahead. The Giants are 3-1 and are well prepared for the 2019 MCAL season.

Todays notables: Sam Warren (2H, 1RBI); Jack Morken (1H, 1Run); Genki LeClair (1H); Zack Gordon (1H); Alex Hagen (1H).

The Varsity Giants start MCAL league play at home versus San Marin next Tuesday March 4th at Moody Field. First Pitch – 3:30 p.m. Go Giants!

Cohen, Welch, Defense, Shut Out Vanden

2/23: The varsity debut of the sophomore pitcher, Ben Cohen, was impressive. Standing on the hill for the first time in varsity shoes against the D1 Vanden Vikings, Cohen looked comfortable all afternoon.

Sophomore Ben Cohen fires a strike

Following in his two older brothers’ footsteps, the Giants pitcher threw six one-hit innings, ringing up three Vikings along the way. Despite the impressive performance by Cohen he would not get a decision, as  Redwood was locked in a zero-zero tie with the Vikings after six shutout innings of baseball.

The Giants had many opportunities to score in the early parts of the game but could never capitalize. They loaded the bases in the fourth inning with hard-hit balls and nifty bunts but left the runners on base. Each time the offense showed signs of life, the Vikings would find a way to kill the threat. The game was defined by good pitching and error-free defense. Catcher, Jake Nordstrom, helped Cohen along the way, throwing out a Viking baserunner at second base after Cohen threw a third strike for a double play.

Giants shortstop, Jackson Reed, was flawless in the middle, making several athletic plays at critical moments in the game. The game eventually went into extra innings. The designated hitter, Nick Welch, was given the ball in the seventh inning to stymie any hope of a Vikings walk-off victory.

Shortstop Jackson Reed was perfect in his seven chances in the field

In the top of the eighth, the Giants finally broke through. Now pitcher, Nick Welch, led the inning off with a double to right field. Satoshi Miki entered the game to run for Welch. Satoshi quickly took advantage of a wild pitch and stole third base. After, Matt Birchenough singled to right field, scoring Miki (1-0). Birch would promptly steal second, placing himself in scoring position for a newly activated left fielder, Jared Robinow. JR stepped up and singled to right field, moving Birchenough to third base. Jake Gassman then laid down a nice bunt, safely squeezing Birchenough across Homeplate (2-0). After, Jackson Reed got hit by a pitch, moving Robinow into scoring position. Red hot senior, Genki LeClair, ripped his third hit of the day, scoring Jared Robinow (3-0). The Vikings catcher then made a run-scoring mistake by throwing down to second base to pick off the speedy senior, Genki LeClair. With little hope of tagging LeClair, Jackson Reed did not hesitate and plated the Giants fourth run of the inning.

Pitcher, Nick Welch, would close the door on the Vikings to secure the victory. Final Score: 4-0.

Notables: Genki LeClair (3H,1RBI), Lucas Roy (1H), Nick Welch (1H), Matt Birchenough (1H,1Run, 1RBI), Jared Robinow (1H,1Run), Jake Gassman (1RBI), Jackson Reed (1Run), & Satoshi Miki (1Run).

The 3-0 Giants are scheduled to play Montgomery High School at home on Wednesday the 27th – weather permitting. Nick Welch is the projected starter. Go, Giants!

Four Run Third Propels Varsity Past Rancho Cotati

2/22:      The Giants varsity baseball team improved their pre-season record to 2-0 with a 5 to 1 victory over Rancho Cotati high school. Senior Kyle Felder, was back to form, throwing five innings of shutout baseball. Felder rung up four Cougars while giving up just one walk.

Firenzi waves pinch-runner Zach Gordon home on a Jack Morken single for the Giants fourth run

Redwood’s outburst of offense in the bottom of the third was all it would take to secure the win. Left-fielder, Sam Warren, got things started with a hard-hit ball to left field. Warren would go on to steal second base. Next, after showing bunt, catcher Jake Nordstrom stood up and drove a high fast ball to right field leaving runners on the corners. Shortstop, Jackson Reed, got the Giants on the board with a single to left, scoring Warren (1-0). Center-fielder, Lucas Roy, then laid down a bunt, squeezing Nordstrom across the plate (2-0). Third baseman, Jackson Barry, drove the ball to left, scoring Reed (3-0). Zach Gordon entered the game to run for Barry. First baseman, Jack Morken, joined the hit parade with a shot to center, scoring Gordon from second base (4-0).

In the fifth inning, second baseman, Genki LeClair, led off with a hard-hit ball down the first base line. LeClair would easily steal second base then make his way to third. Nick Welch then drove the ball into deep left-center field, allowing LeClair to easily tag up and head home (5-0). Jackson Barry was given a free base after being hit by a pitch. Barry would go on to successfully steal second, giving his teammates in the dugout much to cheer about.

Alex Hagen entered the game in the sixth inning in relief of Felder. Hagen enticed a ground ball from the Rancho hitter, allowing third baseman, Jackson Barry, to field it cleanly, tag his base and throw out the runner at first. Barry and Morken have combined for two double plays in as many games.

Matthew Smallbach and Jesse Gassman also pitched in relief of Felder. With the Cougars threatening to score, Gassman picked off the runner at second to the end the last real scoring opportunity for Rancho Cotati.

Senior Kyle Felder earned the win, yielding just two hits while striking out four in five shut-out innings

Giants pitching gave up only four hits and one run. Kyle Felder earned the win. Offensively, Jake Nordstrom had two hits on the day and scored a run. Other notables were: Genki LeClair (1H, 1Run), Jackson Barry (1H,1RBI), Jack Morken (1H,1RBI), Nick Welch (1RBI), Sam Warren (1H,1Run), Jackson Reed (1H,1Run,1RBI) and Zach Gordon (1 Run). Final Score: 5-1, Giants.

“It wasn’t flashy”, Firenzi said after the game, “We scored five runs without getting an extra base hit. Our pitchers have given up just two runs in two games and are playing defense.  That’s a great combination when you are executing like we are at the plate.”

The Giants play Vanden High School in Fairfield tomorrow (2/23) at 12 noon. Ben Cohen is expected to get the start.

Freshman Score Thirteen for Second Win of the Year

2/23:  After dropping a twelve-pack of runs against Saint Ignatius. on Thursday, the Freshman Giants did one better, posting a baker’s dozen on the road against the Dublin Gaels today.  Despite being ahead 11-1 after four innings, Dublin does not have a ‘Mercy Rule’ so the teams battled for seven innings.  Redwood would end the day with thirteen runs, eight hits, and were flawless in the field as they had no errors.  Conversely, the Gaels had some issues navigating their own field as they ended with five errors on the day.

Colin Cunneen tags the runner on a pick-off play

The Giants used three pitchers with starting pitcher Kent Goodman pitching the first two innings, giving up just one run on two hits while fanning four.  Cole McGowan got the bulk of the load, pitching four strong innings, giving up just one hit and striking out six.  Lucas Atherton closed it out, giving up just one hit, striking out 2.  Together, they combined for twelve strike-outs.

At the plate, Redwood bats remained hot with six Giants getting hits, and what seems to have become a theme this year, three Giants were hit, taking a free pass (Connor Yang, Jack Piediscalzi, Matthew Jessen).  Connor Yang and Zach Johnson each had a hit while Charlie Welch, Tyler Blair and Luca Bove contributed two hits apiece to the Giants total.  Bove belted a triple, his second in two games.  Bove and Johnson led the team with three RBI’s each, on the day.

Luca Bove rips his second triple in two games

“This is the team I knew I had from day one.  Excellent pitching, timely hitting and zero errors”, Head Coach Taber Watson said after the game, “We’re going to be a hard team to beat.”

The Giants will start their MCAL campaign on Monday when they host Novato at Endriss field at 3:30pm.

Varsity Grinds Out 2-1 Victory over Vintage in Home Opener

2/20:   Head coach, Mike Firenzi and his reworked Varsity team began the defense of their 2018 MCAL championship with a hard-fought win over Napa’s Vintage high school, defeating the Crushers 2-1 on a cold aftenoon at Moody field.

Junior, Nick Welch, started on the hill for the Giants, throwing three full innings. Welch struck out six batters and conceded one run after 69 pitches.

Nick Welch fanned six just three innings of work

The Crushers took the lead in the second inning but that was short-lived. In the bottom of the third, Giants second basemen, Genki LeClair, led off the inning with a hard-hit bomb to right-center field. The speedy senior landed on third base with a stand-up triple. The Giants tied the game after center-fielder, Lucas Roy, dropped a beautiful bunt down the third base line, scoring LeClair (1-1). Next up, third baseman, Jackson Barry, lined the ball into left field, scoring Roy (2-1, Redwood). The Giants relied on big plays on defense and a steady bullpen to secure the victory in the 2019 home opener.

Lucas Roy drops a beautiful bunt on a high pitch to squeeze home the Giants first run

Pitcher, Matt Birchenough, relieved Welch in the fourth inning, picking off a runner at second with a nifty designed play with his middle infielders. The corners got involved next, when third baseman, Jackson Barry, snared a hard-hit ball, tagged third, then threw a short-hopped ball to first baseman, Jack Morken, for a critical double-play. The Giants found themselves in many tight situations all night but always found their way out.

Senior, Jackson Bender, pitched the fifth and sixth innings. Bender was sharp, striking out three while not allowing a run. The top of the fifth inning was highlighted when, with runners in scoring position, the Giants defense kept the Crushers off the scoreboard with a tremendous relay from left-fielder, Sam Warren, to shortstop, Jackson Reed, who fired a bullet to catcher, Jake Gassman, throwing the tying run out at home and preserving the one-run lead.

In the seventh inning, Jesse Gassman was given the ball to close out the game. After allowing one hit, Gassman closed the door on the Crushers by picking off a runner at second with no outs then striking out the remainder of the side.

The Giants offense finished with a total of seven hits: LeClair (2), Roy (1), Barry (1), Hagen (1), Warren (1), and Reed (1). Giants’ pitching combined for a total of eleven strikeouts while conceding just one run. This was a complete team win with contributions from 17 different players throughout the home opener.  “We executed today” Firenzi said after the game, “We bunted, had a hit-and-run, and we had a great relay play to cut off a run at the plate.  We have some things to work on, but I’m pleased with how we played today.”

Genki LeClair bangs one of his two hits on the day

The Varsity side resumes their pre-season schedule on Friday the 22nd when they host Rancho Cotate high school at Moody field. Senior, Kyle Felder, is scheduled to start for the Giants. First pitch: 3:30 p.m.

Big Third Inning Propels Freshman to First Victory

2/21:  The Giants bounced back posting their first win of the year in a commanding way beating St. Ignatius 12-2 in four and a half innings at Endriss Field. 

Staring pitcher Myles Kawashima sent the Wildcats down in order in the top of the first and after a couple of S.I. errors, Kent Goodman was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Zach Johnson made it hurt, roping a double to left, scoring Luca Bove and Connor Yang putting the Giants up 0-2 after one inning.

The Wildcats answered, after a couple of walks and a Giants error, S.I. plated their first run of the game.  The Giants would give S.I. their other run of the inning, walking home a run and tying the score 2-2.

The Giants scored ten runs in the bottom of the third.  Charlie Welch led off the inning with a single to left.  Luca Bove crushed the 2nd pitch he saw in the next at bat for a triple and a RBI.  Connor Yang knocked in Bove and reached on another S.I. error.  Kent Goodman singled to right and Zach Johnson continued the hit parade with a single to left.  Kent Goodman scored on a botched pick-off attempt and after Jack Piediscalzi walked, Matthew Jessen dropped a bunt, scoring Johnson.  The Giants had scored five runs before S.I. could record an out and come up for air.  Redwood’s first out of the inning proved to be productive one as Tyler Blair hit a fly to center that was deep enough to score Piediscalzi from third.  Cole McGowan followed with a walk, and a pitching change by the Wildcats would yield the same result, as Charlie Welch walked to load the bases.  Luca Bove would be the sixth batter in two games to get hit by a pitch, forcing Jessen home.  Connor Yang then hit back, this time forcing an error by the third baseman scoring McGowan.  Kent Goodman put the icing on the cake, rapping his second hit of the inning, plating Welch.  After the dust had settled, Redwood was up by ten runs, enacting the ‘Mercy Rule’. 

The Wildcats would need to score a run before the end of the fifth inning to continue play, but relief pitcher Tyler Blair and the Giants defense would not let that happen.  The game ended in the fifth.  “It was nice to get that first win out of the way.  Having been so hampered by rain, it was great to knock the rust off and get a good team win.” Head Coach Taber Watson said after the game.  The Giants combined for six hits (Welch, Bove, Goodman (2), Johnson (2)) and took advantage of nine Wildcat errors for the win.

The Giants are on the road to face Dublin on Saturday.

 

Freshman Drop Opener Against Vintage

2/20: Redwood’s starting pitcher, Kent Goodman, posted two shut out innings to start the game, striking out the side in the bottom of the second.

The Giants bats were quiet for the first three innings, taking the game into the bottom of the third, knotted in a 0-0 tie. With two out in the bottom of the third, Vintage strung together a double, a walk and three singles in a row, scoring two runs in the bottom of the frame.

Luca Bove led off the top of the fourth, getting on the hard way by getting hit by a pitch. Connor Yang stood up the best way you can for your fellow team mate, by driving a double on a 0-1 pitch to left, scoring Luca from first. Kent Goodman was then hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Will Davis advanced the runners to second and third on a fielder’s choice. Zach Johnson knocked in Yang from third on a sacrifice fly, and Kai Christman drove Goodman in on a grounder to the right side, putting the Giants up 3-2. The threat continued after Tyler Blair (photo0 singled and Cole McGowan became the third hit batsman of the inning, but was ended when a runner was picked off. Vintage tied the score after a walk and a couple of singles, and when it looked like the Giants would get out of the bases loaded threat, a wild pitch scored the runner from third.

Tyler Blair led the Giants with two hits and an RBI on the day

The Crushers blew the game open, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Two more Giants would get plunked by Vintage pitchers, as Kent Goodman and Nick Gehrman led off the top of the sixth by getting hit. After a ground out, Kai Christman walked to load the bases. Tyler Blair would bang his second hit on the day, scoring Goodman for the Giants fourth and final run on the day.

Vintage would add one more, making the final score Vintage 8, Giants 4. The Giants had three hits on the day, two singles by Blair and the double by Yang. Blair, Yang, Johnson and Christman each tallied an RBI for Redwood.

Redwood hosts St. Ignatius on Thursday.

 

Senior Jack Morken Signs

11/14/18:  Senior Jack Morken committed to Monmouth University today, ending a long drought of D1 signees from the Redwood Baseball program.  Morken ended the 2017 campaign with a blistering .392 batting average and led the team with 22 RBI’s.

Jack will be the eleventh player to go on to play ball after high school since 2015, the first year Mike Firenzi took over the baseball program.  “I’m very proud of Jack, he’s worked hard and his hard work has paid off.  It’s a great day for Jack and for the Redwood Baseball family.”, Firenzi said.

Where are they now?

Class of 2015:

Adam Hussain-Redshirt  Junior at  San  Diego  State  University

Attended College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif. (2016-2018).  Appeared in 39 games and hit .373 with 7 home runs, 40 RBIs as a sophomore (2018).  Named Bay Valley Conference First Team (2018).  Named to Bay Valley Conference All-Academic Team (2018).  Earned Honor Roll recognition (Fall 2017, Spring 2018).  Redshirted his freshman season

For the Redwood Varsity Adam played in 51 games, boasting a .303 batting average with 44 hits, 27 RBI’s and 29 runs scored.  He helped lead the Giants to an NCS Championship and was named Honorable Mention All-MCAL Baseball team his senior year

Tyler Peck –  Senior at Chapman University

2018: ABCA All-West Region Second Team selection.  NCBWA National Pitcher of the Year for the week of May 10th.  Started 13 games.  Led the bullpen with a 2.63 ERA and 98 strikeouts.  Threw two complete games for a 7-2 record.  Pitched 7.1 innings of Chapman’s first no-hitter since 1973, striking out 10 batters.

2018 SECOND TEAM ALL-SCIAC

Tyler was the SF Chronicle North Bay Player of Year in 2015 and made the 2015 Cal High Sports First team All-State and First Team All-MCAL.  For the Redwood Varsity, Tyler pitched 144 innings, boasting a 1.31 ERA (.92 in 2015), with 110 strike outs and 18 wins.  He held opponents to a .186 batting average.

Class of 2016:

Zach Cohen – Junior at University of New York

2017-18: Made 13 appearances, including one start…ended the season with a 1-2 record and a 5.29 ERA in 17.0 innings…held opponents to a .237 average…tossed a season-high three innings and struck out a season-high five batters against John Jay (4/18)…IAAC Spring Honor Roll…ECAC Academic Honor Roll.

2016-17: Appeared on the mound in 13 games, including two starts…finished the season with a 3-1 record…tossed a season-high three innings vs. Merchant Marine (4/19)…struck out a season-best two batters vs. Dubuque (3/13) and Yeshiva (5/4)…pitched two shutout innings against Case Western (4/8) and Yeshiva (5/4).

For the Redwood Varsity, Zach was a four-year team member and ended his career with a 1.78 ERA, with 138 strike outs in 216 innings, held opponents to a .229 batting average and had 17 wins.  He was a member of Redwood Honors Society and California Scholastic Federation.  He helped lead the team to their 2015 NCS title.  He was named 2nd Team All-MCAL in 2015.

Zack Kopstein – Junior at M.I.T.

2018: NEWMAC Academic All-Conference… Led the team with a 4-2 record as he made seven appearances and six starts in 39.2 innings pitched… Had 28 strikeouts with a .264 batting average against and a 3.63 ERA… Earned a win over nationally-ranked Trinity (Texas) on 3/2 as he threw five innings and allowed just two runs with two strikeouts… Earned a win over Emerson on 4/7 with eight strikeouts and six shutout innings… Picked up a win over Babson on 4/14 and won the NEWMAC Tournament First Round game vs. Springfield on 5/3 as he went seven innings with five strikeouts in the 5-0 win.

At Redwood ZackAP Scholar with Distinction.  Received Math, Science and English Department awards was the Co-president of the Rocketry Club.  He was a Member of the California Scholarship Federation and the Redwood High School Honors Society and was the Class salutatorian.  In his Varsity career at Redwood, Zack played in 77 games, hit .285 with a .397 On Base Percentage, had 43 hits and scored 30 runs.  On the mound he had a 1.74 ERA in 104 innings pitched, striking out 105 and ended with 14 wins.

Class of 2017:

Henry Zeisler – Sophomore at Chapman University

2018: Appeared in 21 games with a .200 batting average, three doubles and a home run…

2018 ALL-ACADEMIC (SCIAC)

At Redwood Henry was a Redwood Honors Society Lifetime Member.  In his Varsity career at Redwood, Henry played in 36 games, boasting a .378 batting average and a .484 on base percentage.  He had 37 hits, knocking in 20 runs and scored 24 runs for the Giants.  Henry’s senior season was cut short with an injury from which he has fully recovered.

Michael Benz – Sophomore at College of Marin

2018: 18 appearances…2 wins with 1 loss.  25 innings pitched with 13 strikeouts and 10 walks.  In his Varsity career at Redwood Michael pitched 54 innings, striking out 48 and ended with a 1.92 ERA and 3 wins.  He was named Honorable Mention All MCAL Baseball Team in 2017

 

 

Class of 2018:

Dane Goodman – Freshman at Whittier College

Dane was a pre-season All-American and was named to the First Team All MCAL Baseball Team in 2017 and the Second Team All MCAL Baseball Team in 2018.  In his Varsity career at Redwood, Dane played in 53 games, boasting a .450 batting average with 57 hits, 43 runs scored and 31 runs batted in.

 

 

Josh Cohen – Freshman at Emerson College

Josh was a three-year Varsity player and was named Honorable Mention All MCAL Baseball Team in 2018.  As a Varsity player at Redwood, Josh had 3 wins and in 36 innings pitched he tallied 35 strike outs and held opponents to a .223 batting average.  At the plate he ended his career hitting .331, stealing 22 bases and scoring 50 runs.  He knocked in 20 on 58 hits and only struck out 19 times in 217 plate appearances.

 

 

Head Coach Mike Firenzi and Frank Ferroni Inducted into the MCAL Hall of Fame

By Guest Correspondent, Mark Fainaru-Wada

On an evening dedicated to celebrating the elite of Marin County high school athletics, two Redwood Baseball Giants shined brightest.

Redwood head coach Mike Firenzi and former pitching great Frank Ferroni (class of 1976) joined eight others as the latest inductees into the Marin County High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Frank Ferroni (left) and Mike Firenzi (right) holding their prestigious awards

More than 200 people attended the ceremony at the Embassy Suites in San Rafael, and both Firenzi and Ferroni were well-represented by friends, family, former teammates and coaches. The one glaring absentee was legendary coach Al Endriss, a longtime mentor to Firenzi and former coach to Ferroni, who was unable to attend due to a recent surgery that left him sidelined for a few weeks. 

Both inductees took a moment during their acceptance speeches to describe the massive impact the great Endriss has had on their lives and careers.

For Firenzi, the evening put a stamp on a remarkable 27-year career – a career that, if anything, continues to pick up steam. The record he has amassed during that time is, well, naturally, Hall of Fame worthy: 434 wins, nine MCAL titles, five NCS championships, 19 consecutive playoff appearances, 48 kids placed on college rosters and 8 selected in the Major League draft.

His win total is 38 shy of Endriss’ county record (472), and the 53-year-old Firenzi has his sight sets on 500. He told the crowd he has no plans to retire, as long as his body and mind continue to thrive.

For those who have known Firenzi all the way back to his days growing up in Corte Madera and playing in Twin Cities Little League, it’s little surprise he has made baseball his life’s work.  His father, Roger, coached during the 70’s through the early 80’s at Twin Cities, making a long-standing impact on the league and the players he coached, including his son.  His name is enshrined on a plaque on a bench in right field.  It is that bench where you might find Mike taking in a Twin Cities Little League game.  The sport always has been Mike’s greatest passion, and he has forever been fully committed to the game, whether as a player or coach.

His former teammates, players and coaches know him as a man devoted to the fundamentals – a coach with little tolerance for anyone who doesn’t play the game the right way.

“I’m an old-school guy,” Firenzi told the Marin IJ for a story about his induction into the Hall of Fame. “We play catch, throw strikes and run the bases. No smoke and mirrors. That’s my formula, and it’s working.”

Firenzi first brought his approach to Marin Catholic in 1991, when the school made him its head coach at just 26. This was during a time when his alma mater, Redwood, had been the dominant force in MCAL baseball — a dynasty built by Endriss.

But Firenzi, carrying with him the Redwood traditions, transformed Marin Catholic into the county’s preeminent program. The Wildcats won the MCAL title in Firenzi’s first season, and, over the next two decades, they would go onto amass eight county crowns and four NCS titles.

Firenzi took a few years off from coaching to recharge his batteries, and then he resurfaced back home – at Redwood.

“My son Joe went to Redwood at that time. That’s how I ended up at Redwood,” Firenzi told the IJ. “When he was in Little League, I was always the dad who got there in the second inning because I had my own team that was practicing. I was missing my own kids’ career.”

Since returning to Larkspur, where he had the chance to coach Joe, Firenzi has resurrected the Giants’ program, conjuring memories of the glory days. As he did at Marin Catholic, Firenzi won the MCAL and NCS titles in his first season, and his teams have captured the MCAL crown in three of his four seasons at Redwood.

Firenzi was named the NCS Honors Coach for 2010, and after he led the Giants to the 2015 NCS title, he was selected the NorCal Division II Coach of the Year.

At the Hall of Fame banquet, Firenzi thanked his family – son Joe, mother Donna, sister Donna (aka Sissy) and longtime girlfriend Christine – and his current and former assistant coaches. He singled out Bill Benz, who grew up with Firenzi in Corte Madera, played high school ball with him at Redwood and has been coaching with him on and off since his first season at Marin Catholic.

“I’ve known Mike since we were in kindergarten together.  Growing up, we had dreams of playing in the Major League.  Little did I know back, then, that he would influence and send kids on that journey.  I’ve had the honor of coaching with him and to this day, I still learn from him, whether it’s insights on the fundamentals of the game, strategy, or how to get the best from your players, his evolution as a coach has been fun to watch” said Benz, whose youngest son, Michael, was coached by Firenzi at Redwood and is now pitching at College of Marin. “He’s devoted the majority of his life to the game, it’s great to see his work and influence recognized by the MCAL Hall of Fame.”

But Firenzi saved the bulk of his thanks for the hundreds of dedicated and talented young men he has coached over the years, saying that his success wouldn’t have been possible without them.

After Firenzi accepted his award, Ferroni was honored for one of the great careers in MCAL baseball history. His senior season of 1976 was otherworldly, producing numbers that now seem unthinkable: 17-1, with a 0.91 ERA, striking out a state-record 194 batters in just 95 innings.  This is his second Hall of Fame induction in 2018 as Frank was inducted into the Redwood Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this year.

A transfer from Tam, Ferroni was so dominant that longtime El Cerrito Coach Larry Quirico, who has spent 45 years around Bay Area prep baseball, told the IJ that Ferroni was the best pitcher his teams ever faced. Yes, said Quirico, even better than Livermore’s Randy Johnson, who would go on to play 22 seasons in the majors before being elected to the Hall of Fame.

The summer after he graduated, Ferroni pitched three innings of shutout ball in the North-South All-Star Game at Angel Stadium. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants straight out of Redwood but decided he wasn’t ready. He went on to play at Central Arizona Junior College before helping Cal State Fullerton to a National Championship.

“When I got drafted by the Giants out of high school, it was like a dream come true,” Ferroni told the IJ. “But I knew I wasn’t ready. Mentally? I was cocky as heck? But physically? Put me in against guys 19, 20, 21 years old, I’m not sure I was ready.”

Ferroni would later be a first-round Major League pick in two subsequent supplemental drafts, but his promising career was derailed by a shoulder injury.

At the banquet, several of Ferroni’s former Redwood teammates were on hand, and he made sure to thank them all. He said he was particularly grateful to his younger brother Gary (Class of ’83), who also pitched at Redwood and was a teammate of Firenzi’s. It was Gary who nominated his super sibling for his spot in the Marin high school Hall of Fame.

Roger Smith, Frank Ferroni and the ’77 Mythical National Champs Inducted into the Hall of Fame

March 3, 2018: Roger Smith (class of 1976), Ferroni (class of 1970) and the 1977 Giants baseball team were inducted into the Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fame during a banquet hosted by Bay Area radio legend (and Redwood alumni) Bruce MacGowan.

Roger Smith played baseball and basketball at the varsity level from his sophomore through his senior years at Redwood.  In 1970, he appeared in 14 MCAL games as a pitcher and led the team to a 13-1 MCAL record with a 2.25 ERA.  He earned first team MCAL honors in both basketball and baseball his senior year.

Frank Ferroni made first team MCAL in both his junior and senior years as a pitcher for the Giants.  Ferroni put up astounding numbers his senior year, records that will most likely never be broken.  He was 17-1 with a .91 ERA and had 194 strikeouts in 95 innings.  Ferroni was drafted by the Giants and the Twins but took a scholarship to Pepperdine to play for Augie Garrido and sustained an injury that prevented him from playing.  He was later drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, unfortunately, his career was shorted due to his injury.

The 1977 Mythical National Champion baseball team was inducted in the ‘Special Merit-Team Award’ category and nearly the entire team was in attendance to accept the award.  Captain Jim Connor took the podium first and recanted the historic game against Taiwan and the championship game, an epic come-from behind victory against Hayward.  Buddy Biancalana followed Jim and described the impact that head coach Al Endriss had him as a player and credited Endriss for opening doors for him to play after high school, “Texas was willing to give me a scholorship and never saw me play…just on Al’s word…that shows how well respected he was.”

Head Coach Al Endriss said, “This may be the best team that not only the MCAL but Northern California has ever seen, and will ever see…I was willing to play our team against any team, anywhere, and I knew we would win.”

With 33 wins and 4 losses, they were named High School National Champions by the Easton Bat Company and the ’70’s National High School Team of the Decade by Sporting News.  They had five High School All-Americans (Buddy Biancalana, Jim Connor, Jimmy Jones, Mickey Meister, and Greg Zunino).  Twelve players went on to play at the collegiate level.  Four players were drafted and played at the professional level (Steve Travers, Biancalana, Meister, Zunino).  Biancalana was the first round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals (drafted before Cal Ripken), and nearly won the 1984 World Series MVP and made appearances on the Late Night with David Letterman.

The players on the team were:  Buddy Biancalana, Brett Parker, Scott Sutton, Steve Travers, Mickey Meister, John Jones, John Caito, Len Tallerico, Jim Connor, Bill Scott, Gary Ferrari, Greg Zunino, David Hoffmeister, Mike Long, Jim Jones, Steve Hoffmire, Bryon Myles, Howard Gibian, Cam Garrett, Kevin Wiltz, David Lui, and Lindsay Gordon.

The 1977 Mythical National Champions accepting their award

Smith, Ferroni, and the ’77 Team join fellow Redwood Baseball Inductees John Boro-’70, Buddy Biancalana-78, Pete Carroll-’69, Richard “Butch” Brear-’61, Jim Connor-’77, Mike Connor-’73, Ken Johnson-’68, Chad Kreuter-’82, Mickey Meister-’79, Jim Peters-’69, Jerry Piro-’70, Cory Shakarian-’90, Russell Smith-’66, Kevin Wilson-’67, Greg Zunino-’77, Dick Hart-Basketball Coach & Frosh Baseball Coach and Al Endriss-Baseball Coach-’58-93.

CHAMPS!!!

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?

Frosh Giants Close Out MCAL Championship Season with Rout of Drake

5/11:  The frosh Giants completed their season with a 9-1 victory over Drake in San Anselmo.

Mikey Bender cruised through five innings, striking out six while allowing only a single run. The Giants scored early and often, scoring four in the first and another run in the second and adding on from there.  Ben Cohen, Bender and Tommy Quanstrom all had two hit days for the Giants.  Bender and Quanstrom led the team in RBIs with three apiece, while Charlie Ginsburg led the Giants in runs scored with three. Zane Kempler closed the door with two scoreless innings.

The Giants took the MCAL regular season title with a remarkable 22 wins this year against only a single defeat.  Kudos to the frosh and coaches Taber Watson, Corbin Wirta and Dan Watson on an outstanding season!